OBETZ, Ohio – Now that Crew rookies Ethan Finlay and Kirk Urso have their first MLS games in the book, they’re eager to push on and become regulars.
Urso played the full 90 minutes as a holding midfielder in Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Colorado while Finlay got a quick introduction off the bench just 12 minutes into the game, after midfielder Dilly Duka suffered a hamstring injury.
“I was nervous, but in all honesty, it was probably the best way to be doing it,” Finlay said on Tuesday to MLSsoccer.com. “There was no time to think about it, where if you were a starter you’re thinking about it the night before or all day.”
Urso admitted to nerves but no more so than when he lined up to help North Carolina win the College Cup in December.
“Once the game starts you really focus on the game,” he said. “I didn’t have time to take too much in. It was an exciting experience. It’s something I’ve dreamed about for so long.”
Midfielder Eddie Gaven saw Urso, the 10th pick in the Supplemental Draft, become more comfortable as the match progressed.
“Kirk did well,” he said. “It was a very tight game, obviously. There wasn’t too much time or space on the ball. We’ve got to find him more. He’s someone who can be a link between the backs and forwards.”
Finlay had progressed well in camp, after being the Crew’s top pick and 10th overall in the MLS SuperDraft out of Creighton. Finlay was in line to start against the Rapids if veteran Gaven didn’t recover from a slight knock.
However he did and Finlay was anticipating a late entry into the match before Duka went down.
“It was not what I expected,” Finlay said. “It was kind of weird because it was at the point where I was probably 20 minutes of just being cold because after warm-ups we went and then had the national anthem and stuff.
“We usually get up about 15- 20 minutes (into the game). About 10 minutes in, Dilly pulled up with a hamstring.”
As with Urso, Finlay had good moments and some mistakes expected of a first-year player but he received a passing grade from Gaven.
“He was a real bright spot for us in the game,” Gaven said. “He was able to get two or three shots off. He played very good defense as well.”
Assistant coach Oughton Duncan said he expects Urso and Finlay to relax and show even more in their next game, possibly the home opener against Montreal on April 24.
“It’s done and dusted. It’s not your first game anymore,” Oughton said. “Now you can get on with getting things done and playing. They’re good kids as well. They work hard and want to learn. They want to compete and their attitude is what you want out of professional players.”