COLUMBUS, Ohio – The temperature was “only” in the upper 80s by the time practice ended Thursday at Crew Stadium, but even that was a welcome relief from last week's scorching conditions.
Columbus, like much of the country, experienced record highs before and after Independence Day, and the Crew coaching staff certainly noticed.
They continued the trend in recent weeks of starting training an hour earlier at 9 am whenever excessive heat and humidity were forecast. By comparison, practices from March through May, when morning temperatures often started in the 50s, began at 11 am.
Despite the precautions, midfielder Chris Birchall said the hot weather is taxing. It has been 90 degrees or higher in Columbus for 14 of the past 15 days, including three triple-digit readings last week.
“Anyone who says it’s not making any difference to us is lying because when you train for as long as we have [in] the heat, two weeks non-stop near 100 degrees or sometimes over, it takes its toll on you,” he said. “You feel tired then the next day you have to come in and do the same thing. Your body is so used to being hydrated, then dehydrated, then hydrated again. It’s not good for the body.”
Of course, the former LA Galaxy player joined the Crew two months ago from his native England where the temperature rarely reaches 100 degrees (37.7 celsius back home for Birchall).
Still, Chilean midfielder Milovan Mirosevic thought Columbus weren't “fresh” for their match last Sunday at Montreal, a 2-1 loss, but coach Robert Warzycha said the fact Mirosevic, Chad Marshall and Dilly Duka were coming off injuries was a bigger reason than the training.
“I’m not surprised they are not fresh,” Warzycha said. “They have to fight through it.”
During the hot spell Warzycha shortened practices.
“We practice basically for an hour, sometimes 55 minutes,” he said. “We want the intensity to be the same just in a shorter time.”
Despite the rigors the Crew have undergone, midfielder Eddie Gaven said the team will be energized for Saturday’s game against Sporting Kansas City (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“The coaching staff has done a good job of cutting back training a little bit to make sure we’re going to be fresh for the game on Saturday and we’re not going to be working too hard during the week,” he said. “I don’t think [the weather] is going to be an issue.”