The Crew moved to 2-0-0 in the 2013 preseason with Wednesday's 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. After just 10 days of training and two games, Head Coach Robert Warzycha likes the way his team has shown progress.
Though Andy Gruenebaum was sidelined against the Fire, Warzycha's current first-choice defense with new signing Agustín Viana at leftback managed to keep another scoreless 45 minutes on Wednesday. Viana replaced rookie Chad Barson as Josh Williams moved to rightback and Tyson Wahl paired with Chad Marshall in central defense.
"It was good game," Warzycha said after the win. "I think guys stepped up against a very dangerous Chicago team and played well. The new signing, Viana, I like his composure."
"I liked what I saw, but there's still a lot of work to do," he added.
The Crew was also dangerous offensively with Federico Higuaín pulling the strings in the attack.
"Pipa Higuaín was very effective at getting the ball in the pockets," Warzycha explained. "He can be dangerous and spread out the defense as a forward."
The Crew will play one more match in Bradenton on Friday against the New York Red Bulls at 11:00 a.m. ET.
Warzycha once again played every healthy player on his roster 45 minutes on Wednesday, just as he did in Saturday's 1-0 win against D.C. United. The Head Coach expects to see his team's stamina continue to improve over the next few days.
"I think we played a good 35 minutes and then after that we had a little fatigue," Warzycha said. "That happened last game against D.C. and happened this game too. We're working very hard and we're trying to work on fitness. We're not worried about the last 10 minutes of the [first] half because I'm sure we're going to be much fitter moving forward."
The Crew will train again on Thursday ahead of Friday's match against New York.
Unlike Saturday's match against D.C. United, Federico Higuaín wore the captain's armband on Wednesday instead of Chad Marshall. Though the Argentine playmaker stepped in to calmly convert a first half penalty kick, Warzycha assures that multiple players will fill the captain's role this preseason.
"We're just plugging different guys into that role right now," Warzycha proclaimed. "Chad has been the captain for the last two years and we need to find out if anybody else can have that same responsibility. Pipa was [captain] today and someone else will be on Friday."
Just six months into his tenure with the Black & Gold, Higuaín has left an impression on his coaches and teammates alike.
"I think he leads by playing good soccer and lead by being the person that he is," Warzycha complimented the Argentine. "He has a personality and he's a good player and a good person.
"He is a leader whether he is the captain or not."