The Crew Reserves began their 2013 campaign Tuesday morning with a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire at the Black & Gold's training facility in Obetz, Ohio.
Midfielder Konrad Warzycha found the back of the net just before the halftime whistle to give the Crew a 1-0 lead heading into the break. In the second half, the Fire leveled in the 62nd minute when trialist Colin Rolfe rebounded Matt Lampson's save to beat the 'keeper on a follow-up to tie the match at 1-1.
The two rivals would go back-and-forth in search of a winner throughout the final half-hour until Ethan Finlay drove a cross far-post to find Bernardo Anor for the finish to give the Black & Gold a late advantage.
"It was a great buildup, Tony [Tchani] got the ball at about midfield and 'megged the guy," Finlay recalled the game-winning sequence. "He played me in, and we were pretty much behind them and we had three guys trailing in. Bernardo was on the far post and Aaron [Schoenfeld] made a great near-post run. I whipped in a cross, Bernardo was in the right spot and had a great finish."
For Finlay and others who may not regularly see First Team minutes, the Reserve League is a prime opportunity to showcase their talents for Head Coach Robert Warzycha.
"[The Reserve League] is very important," Finlay said. "It gives Coach Warzycha an opportunity to see us play and it gives us an opportunity to get minutes in a game setting if you're not with the First Team all the time."
"You can practice all you want, but if you don't get games you're not as sharp as you can be," rookie defender Drew Beckie added. "I'm behind two great guys in Gláuber and Chad [Marshall], so I look forward to these games because this is where I'm going to get better."
The Crew Reserves will play again on Sunday morning against the New York Red Bulls at Montclair State University in New Jersey.
BATTLING THE ELEMENTS
The orange match ball made a rare appearance on Tuesday as snow flurries blanketed the fields at the Crew's training facility in Obetz during pre-match warmups. The club's grounds crew with the help of the Crew's team staff spent three hours shoveling the field on Monday afternoon to get it ready for Tuesday's match.
For Canadian Drew Beckie and Wisconsin native Ethan Finlay, it was a match not unlike any other they have played in March while growing up in colder climates.
"It was just like home," Beckie said after the match. "Kudos to the grounds crew for getting the field ready for us. It's nice that we got to play the game, because we've been practicing and guys were anxious to get out there."
"I've played in colder weather, but this is tougher to play in just because of how wet the field is and we had snow coming down during warm-ups," Finlay added. "It makes it tough because there are puddles in certain places and the field is harder in certain areas. I'm used to it, but you only play in this weather once every couple of years. It's fun.
"It was great to get the 2-1 win today in really tough conditions. It wasn't the prettiest game, but it was a good win."