With preseason in the books, Crew SC’s attention shifts to Portland

Crew SC may have dropped its final preseason match to the New England Revolution, but despite the 1-0 loss in the Desert Diamond Cup final the Black & Gold are leaving Tucson, Arizona with many positive take-aways.

“The guys, they worked extremely hard and we can’t ask anything more of the effort they put in. So, we’re certainly pleased with that,” Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said following the match. “It was a good game. I thought we had our opportunities, had a lot of the ball, and unfortunately we didn’t get to score.”

Against the Revs, Crew SC came out of the gates playing its typical possession-based game. The Black & Gold strung together a number of nice passes in the first half, pushing the ball forward particularly on the right wing.

Lacking sharpness in the final third, Columbus struggled to create clear-cut opportunities in the first 20 minutes, however. Instead, New England caught the Black & Gold on the break in the 21st minute as Teal Bunbury put away the game winner on a rebound after Steve Clark blocked his first attempt.

“We had a lot of the ball. The final pass will come,” the goalkeeper said. “It was a good game. We’re happy to be moving on to Portland.”

Clark stressed that in the week leading up to the season opener against the Timbers, Crew SC will continue to work on finding its rhythm, something the Black & Gold did better as the match against New England continued.  

Hector Jimenez with a shot after a nice build-up (25th), Harrison Afful with a deflected cross (35th), Ethan Finlay with a low shot just wide off the post (64th) and Tony Tchani with a powerful header on frame (74th) possessed the biggest opportunities for a Crew SC equalizer.

Crew SC leaves Tucson with three draws and a loss, but more important than the individual results is the progress the team has made over the course of preseason.

“We did a lot of hard work in Florida and now in Arizona,” Clark said. “The team looks good. We look like we’re ready for the season.”

Berhalter acknowledges there’s still work to do leading up to the March 6 opener in Portland, but the Crew SC boss is happy with how his team is coming together.

“The cohesiveness isn’t perfectly there but the guys have made good strides,” Berhalter said. “The new guys have integrated nicely into the team and we’re getting there. We’re making progress and we’re happy with that.”

“We’re ready,” he added. “We’re ready for the season to start. Preseason is in the books and we’re excited about the first game.”

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