In a game without consequence on the Crew's regular season, Head Coach Robert Warzycha issued a challenge to his squad before Saturday's friendly against FA Cup winner Wigan Athletic.
"I told the guys before the game: 'You decide what you want to do today,'" Warzycha explained. "'This is your experience, not mine. You decide what you're going to do when you go on the field and how you're going to play. It's up to you.'"
In his first First Team minutes since May 11, rookie striker Ryan Finley made the most of the opportunity to play against European competition by scoring the Crew's lone goal in the team's 2-1 defeat. The tally seemed to light a spark in the rookie as he created several more chances for his team in the minutes that followed.
"Some of the guys like Ryan Finley took [the message] to heart. He was buzzing a lot," Warzycha said.
"I'm happy some players took that chance."
Playing at rightback, Eric Gehrig supplied the assist from the flank on Finley's strike. Like Finley, Gehrig made the most of his minutes in the friendly.
"Any chance I get to prove to [Warzycha] that I'm able step on the field, you've got to take advantage of it," the defender said. "That's the mindset I've been taking my whole career, all three seasons."
Perhaps the performances of Finley, Gehrig and others against Wigan could force a change in Warzycha's lineup when the Crew returns to MLS play. The Black & Gold return to League action at home on July 20 against the New England Revolution (TICKETS).