Crew SC assesses fitness and execution in preseason friendly

Crew SC remains unbeaten in this year’s bout of preseason matches after drawing 2-2 with the Swope Park Rangers Wednesday night. Columbus has played three matches in the Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson, Arizona—all of which have resulted in draws.

Sporting Kansas City’s USL affiliate came back twice in the friendly, including a header off a set piece in stoppage time for the final tally. Crew SC Captain and defender Michael Parkhurst admitted it was disappointing not to get the win, but highlighted some positive takeaways.

“It’s always good when you get two goals. We could’ve had a couple more—we created enough chances; we were close—that’s a positive,” he said. “I thought a couple younger guys—Marshall [Hollingsworth], Amro [Tarek], a couple of the new guys—really stepped up and played well tonight. You take positives from every game and I thought there were plenty of those tonight.”

Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter mentioned finishing more chances as an area to improve, but was pleased with his team’s overall performance. The Black & Gold have featured 22 different players in each match, allowing the guys to get comfortable and the technical staff to evaluate options.

Midfielder Mohammed Saeid was one of the substitutes to start and play the whole second half Wednesday night.

“We’ve brought in some good players and it hasn’t been that difficult for them to adjust to us, or for us to adjust to them,” he said. “We’ve been gelling well and we try to continue to get better every training and it shows in games that some of the parts are there, but some still need improving; but we have plenty of time.”

Ola Kamara is among the new players, arriving last Friday and making his debut in Black & Gold against Swope Park. He quickly showed his ability to impact the match, dishing an assist to Ethan Finlay in the 66th minute. Federico Higuaín broke open the scoring in the 35th minute on a tap-in from Cedrick Mabwati’s powerful shot.

“It was another good opportunity to give our guys game minutes and I think both groups did pretty well,” Berhalter said. “It was good to look at some guys in different positions and really assess where we are from a fitness standpoint, but also from an execution standpoint.”

From the execution standpoint, Parkhurst isn’t satisfied yet.

“It’s not a finished product yet,” he said. “We need to keep improving. We’ve got one more game to fine tune some things and have a better performance going into the first week of the season.”

Crew SC will closeout the Desert Diamond Cup against the New England Revolution this Saturday at 9 p.m. ET. It’s the final preseason match for Columbus before heading to Portland on March 6 for the 2016 season opener and MLS Cup Final rematch. The match vs. the Revolution will be streamed live at ColumbusCrewSC.com.

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