The Crew kicked off its first official training session of the 2013 season at SuperKick in Lewis Center, inside from the snow flurries and frigid temperatures Columbus experienced on Monday. While the practice session was mostly focused on conditioning, the Black & Gold also worked through a few possession drills before a short scrimmage to end the session.
While the Crew's roster at this point is far from complete, Head Coach Robert Warzycha is happy to see his squad mostly healthy heading into the 2013 season.
"It was good to see that we have almost everybody healthy and ready to go," Warzycha said. "Bernardo Anor is the only player on the sideline, he's recovering from his ACL injury. Everybody is anxious to get better and fit for Florida."
The team will train indoor at SuperKick on Tuesday and Wednesday, before flying to Bradenton, Fla. on Thursday to train at the IMG Academy. The Black & Gold's first preseason friendly takes place Saturday at 11:00 a.m. ET against D.C. United.
THE NEW GUYS
Three of the Crew's five new additions so far this offseason were present at Monday's training. First Round SuperDraft pick Ryan Finley, Homegrown signing Chad Barson and veteran defender Tyson Wahl trained in full while Second Round pick Drew Beckie will join the team in Florida and Homegrown midfielder Wil Trapp is currently participating in United States U-20 National Team camp in Puebla, Mexico.
The new faces present seemed to gel quickly with the Crew's returning players. Playing for his fifth MLS club, getting acquainted is something all too familiar for Wahl.
"It's been an interesting experience, but also a healthy one," the veteran defender explained. "I'm kind of a quiet person, generally. It's kind of forced me to step outside my box and meet and make friends quickly, adapt quickly, be open to change quickly. I tend to like to have my things set and if you're changing teams, you can't be set in your ways. I think it's been a challenging, but healthy experience. From what I've seen so far, these guys get along and there is a good work ethic. I'm excited for the year."
The newcomers were relieved by the welcoming nature of the Crew locker room.
"The guys were very welcoming, obviously that calms the nerves a little bit," Finley said. "Once you get into training, the nerves go away and you're just focused on playing soccer. I thought it was good first day getting out there and playing a little bit with the guys."
"It seems like we've got a pretty good locker room, good camaraderie," Wahl added. "We've been here for about a week, getting used to it. It's the first official day and it seems like the guys are motivated to have a better season. Everybody is pretty positive."
NEW JOB, OLD JOB FOR BARSON
Chad Barson started his new job playing for the Crew at a former place of employment on Monday. Barson spent a summer during high school working at SuperKick.
Employment at SuperKick had its advantages for the then-aspiring pro.
"I would always volunteer to clean up stuff and pick up soccer balls," the Akron product said. "I kind of used that as a little extra training time in here."
Now as a rookie for the Crew, Barson's former job certainly paid off in more ways than one.
GAVEN ON CALL
Crew veteran Eddie Gaven arrived at SuperKick on Monday prepared to top the career year he had in 2012, but don't be surprised if you see him bolt from training unexpectedly. Gaven's wife, Paula, is pregnant with the couple's second child and is due to give birth in the coming weeks.
"I'm not really nervous," the veteran said. "It will happen whenever it's meant to happen. I am on-call. Whenever she goes into labor, I'm going to have to go help her out. We'll see when it happens, but I'm very excited to become a father again."
The couple already has a one-year-old, Zachary, and experience will come in handy for Gaven Baby Number Two.
"I've been through it once before, but obviously every time is different," Gaven said. "You never know how exactly it's going to go down. I just want to be there to help her out.
"I don't have to do anything. Obviously, it's all about her. I just want be at her side and help her out any way I can."