A two-week gap in-between preseason matches to work on tactics and on-field shape paid off for Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter and the Crew on Wednesday afternoon as the Black & Gold kicked-off play in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic with a 3-1 win against Toronto FC.
Playmaker Federico Higuaín put the Crew on top early in the 10th minute, curling a free kick past the Reds' wall and newly acquired goalkeeper Julio Cesar. Josh Williams doubled the lead two minutes later with a rocket from the corner of the 18-yard box.
Toronto would get one back in the 14th minute as an attempt on goal deflected off Crew defender Tyson Wahl and by 'keeper Matt Lampson. Un-signed draft pick Adam Bedell sealed the victory in the 61st minute with a sliding finish from Agustín Viana's service.
"The goals were good," Berhalter commented after the match. "The goals came at a good time. The goal by Federico [Higuaín] was a great free kick, but more importantly, it settled the game down. It got us in a rhythm."
While the win and the goals were important, Wednesday's match finally provided the Crew with a chance to execute the vision Berhalter has laid out in training sessions over the past two weeks.
"We've kind of spent some time laying the new foundation down and kind of setting a new way to play," defender Tyson Wahl said after the match. "It was nice to see we could apply that in a real game, as real as it can get. It's a relatively serious preseason tournament, so it was good to see us play well."
Added Williams: "It was good, positive stuff today. I think the idea of these games is to take what we're doing in training and translating it to the game. Today we saw a lot of good things as far as possession, position and defense.
"There are things we can improve on, obviously, but it was pretty good today."
The Crew continues play in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. ET against the Philadelphia Union.