The Columbus Crew completed their two-week mini-camp on Friday. The camp gave new head coach Sigi Schmid a first look at his squad for the 2006 season.
After coming off a rough 2005 campaign, players need to show the new coach what they can bring to the team as the Crew plan for next season. The camp has given Schmid a much better idea of the changes needed to be successful in '06.
"It has given me a much better estimation. I can't touch on that right now," said Schmid. "I definitely feel I have a better handle on it."
Schmid was happy with the mind-set that the team brought into camp.
"I was very happy with the attitude of the team to work," said Schmid.
In addition to the attitude, Schmid was also pleased with the physical abilities of many of the players.
Said Schmid, "I think the athleticism of the team is pretty good. We have good speed as well."
It is also possible that several players could return, but in different positions. Schmid has been auditioning John Wolyniec and David Testo as outside backs.
"You want to get 11 good players on the field," said Schmid. "A lot of the great defenders around the world didn't start out as defenders."
Trying out players in defensive roles has several advantages such as having them learn what their opponents are thinking in a match or even potentially finding new positions.
"Sometimes, a player doesn't quite crack the starting lineup in one position. Wolyniec has started some in this league and come off the bench some," said Schmid. "Testo has been a part-time starter and also come off the bench some. Maybe sometime you can move them and get them on the field full time."
Wolyniec played in 17 games with the Crew last season after being traded from the MetroStars, including eight starts. For the season, he scored five goals and registered four assists combined with the two clubs.
Testo also played in 17 games with Columbus, starting 12 matches. He scored once and had three assists.
Although it is too early to tell, there was a huge progress as players adapted to new roles.
"David made good strides from Game One to Game Two. There was huge improvement," said Schmid. "If he can continue to improve at a quarter of that rate, he might have a good future back there."
John Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.