After spending 28 of the past 33 days on the road in Florida and North Carolina for preseason training and matches, the Columbus Crew is happy to be home, for now at least, as the Black & Gold prepares for its first match of the season on Saturday against Chivas USA.
"We were getting real sick of each other," Goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum joked. "We had a long preseason trip, a lot of good results. Obviously, we didn't end it the way we wanted to [with a 1-0 loss to the Montreal Impact on Saturday], but we're really looking forward to getting the season underway against Chivas."
"It's great to finally end the preseason, especially on a high note with playing in the [Kirk Urso Memorial Match]," veteran midfielder Danny O'Rourke said. "I think guys were happy to see their families and friends and puppies and everything. We're excited to get out there and get the show on the road against Chivas on Saturday.
O'Rourke continued: "I think everyone was just sick of being in a hotel. We're happy to be home for a couple days to kind of re-charge the batteries and get back out there for a 10-day road trip."
With eight newly signed players on the roster and several more fighting for spots, the preseason presented ample opportunity for the new signings to become acclimated.
"It's always good to be home, but we understand that we have some work to do," Head Coach Robert Warzycha explained. "Florida, in my opinion, was a very successful trip. We got a lot of work done. Obviously, having a lot of new players together, we had to have some time where we work on certain things. I like the [Disney Pro Soccer Classic]. I think we had very good competition. Overall, I'm happy with the preseason."
"Every team has change, so we're going to have to try to mesh together," O'Rourke echoed. "We have to get the new guys acclimated with the guys who have been playing here a while. We have to figure out the system that is going to work best for us."
Far from the sunshine of Florida the club practiced at its Obetz training facility for the first time in 2013 on Tuesday in the rainy, 35-degree weather that February brings to the Midwest. The team will be relieved to travel to Southern California on Thursday for its season opener against Chivas USA after working out a few kinks while training in Columbus.
"I think we're coming together," Gruenebaum said. "Obviously we were training in some tough conditions today, but we just have to take it in stride.
"I think mentally, I think everyone is rearing to go. We can't wait to get the season underway."