OBETZ, Ohio – Cole Grossman may have started both CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal matches against Real Salt Lake earlier this year, but the rookie has yet to play in the Crew’s four regular-season games.
That’s why the midfielder won’t take lightly Sunday morning’s reserve match at Crew Stadium against the University of Louisville.
“You have to use it as an opportunity to get better,” Grossman said. “It’s particularly tough if you don’t have the right attitude. It’s important for rookies to not get too emotional about not playing a lot and understand the realities of professional sports.”
The Duke product played the second half of the Crew’s first MLS Reserve League match against D.C. United on March 20 – a 3-2 loss – and scored against St. Louis University during a 2-0 win on April 2.
“I try to approach them as if they were one of the regular games,” Grossman said of the reserve matches. “You don’t get anything out of them if you don’t.”
The Crew’s next Reserve League game is April 23 at Toronto FC following the first-team game. While every player wants to be on the varsity team, so to speak, playing for the reserves is harder for veteran players who don’t crack the first XI or the 18-man game-day squad.
“Obviously there are guys who are going to be disappointed because they’re not playing,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “With the reserve games, we’re giving them a chance in a game situation. How they are going to approach it is up their character. So far, they are approaching it in the right way.”
Usual starting left midfielder Robbie Rogers was on the bench at the start of the season opener at DC before entering for the final 24 minutes. He was up bright and early the next day to play the first 45 minutes in the Reserve League game.
“With the adrenaline and emotion from the night before, it’s tough to wake up in the morning and play that reserve game,” Rogers said. “I think it’s great for guys who aren’t getting much playing time to stay fit and get quality game minutes. I just think it’s rough to do it in the morning like that.”
Andy Adlard, a first-year midfielder from Indiana University, welcomes any minutes he can get in the Reserve League because he, like other players, is still trying to earn his first appearance with the full team.
“When you play other reserve teams it’s their jobs [on the line], too,” Adlard said. “They’re trying to do what we’re doing. Everyone is really battling for positions. You want to impress in those games. It’s not like another scrimmage. It’s actually a league and you get paid for winning.”