The Columbus Crew defeated Swedish side Malmö FF 1-0 in their first preseason match Wednesday in what head coach Gregg Berhalter called a “good test.”
But the new Crew boss knows that the scoreline wasn't the most important result of the match.
“Everything we've been working on for the last eight days had been leading to this game,” Berhalter told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Thursday. “All of the tactical structure that we'd been putting in, we wanted to work on.”
Berhalter was aiming for something of a 4-2-3-1, a formation that both squads of 11 in each half deployed. The new coach has given little away about his playing style thus far, and Wednesday’s game was the first demonstration of how his squad may line up.
But while he knows it's still early in preseason, Berhalter wasn't happy with his team's positioning.
“I don't think it was executed properly,” he said. “It looked more like a 4-4-1-1; it wasn't exactly how I'd like to see it. We still have work to do on it, and we need to work and get it down.”
Berhalter admitted that the 4-2-3-1 was what he was shooting for on Wednesday but declined to confirm that he would be implementing a similar formation when the regular season begins.
“It's hard to tell at this stage,” he said. “We don't have the full group in. We have some injured guys, so as we start getting more of our guys back and in camp, it's hard to tell.”
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Despite acknowledging that there was plenty of work to do, Berhalter said he liked what he saw overall from his players and that he's happy to have the opportunity to see where work can be done.
“The guys stood up,” he said. “Mentally they got tired at parts of the game, and they have to battle through it. It was a challenge.
“If we were nine days into training and I said it was a perfect performance, I think we'd be in trouble a little bit. We know there's stuff to work on.”