LEWIS CENTER, Ohio – The first day of Crew preseason camp in recent years has been marked by snowfall, and Thursday was no exception as the club opened its 2011 season at an indoor facility north of Columbus.
Venezuelan forward Emilio Renteria gave the cold weather and flurries a big thumbs-down while Californian Robbie Rogers anticipated sledding later in the day.
They and their teammates looked forward to getting through the next week of workouts before heading to sunny Arizona on Jan. 29 to continue preparation for the Feb. 22 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal leg against Real Salt Lake at Crew Stadium.
[inline_node:317124]Crew coach Robert Warzycha knows the team will not get into game shape holding eight-vs.-eight scrimmages indoors, but he does have goals for the team before heading to a sunnier destination.
“We want to get into a rhythm,” he said. “The first part of the preseason [is] to get acclimated to the work, get the heart rates a little higher so they are ready when we get to Phoenix.”
The camp is also the perfect time for the players to get acclimated to each other.
With nine gone from last year’s team and a newly expanded 30-man roster, it was a bit of a surprise that name tags weren’t pasted to the yellow practice jerseys.
“It happens every year that you say goodbye to a couple of friends,” goalkeeper William Hesmer said. “This year, it happens to be a lot of friends. That’s part of the business. You accept it.”
NO-SHOWS — Draftees Rich Balchan, Cole Grossman, Justin Meram and Bernardo Anor were present Thursday, but two others weren’t. Andy Adlard was to arrive Thursday night and Ben Sippola on Sunday.
Also, veteran Chilean defender Sebastián Miranda is expected to land in Columbus for the first time on Sunday.
LOOK AT ME — Those invited to camp included midfielder Cory Elenio, who appeared in two games for the Crew in 2008-09 and played for Carolina (USL) last season, and defender Nelson Akwari.
Akwari made 30 appearances for the Crew in 2003 and '04 and also played for Real Salt Lake before making minor league stops in Charlotte, Charleston and last year in Vancouver (USL).
Ohio State product and former FC Dallas goalkeeper Ray Burse Jr. is back training with the club and is joined in goal by Jason Stenta of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL).
Former Northwestern left back Mark Blades, who played for the Chicago Fire’s Premier Development League team in 2010, is also on trial.
Argentine midfielder Neri Bandiero is expected to train with the Crew next week and into the Arizona segment.
CREW VIEW — New forward Tom Heinemann is still recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery and didn’t train. … Center back Kwaku Nyamekye, a 2010 draftee who did not play last year, signed and practiced. … Defender Aaron Hohlbein, taken in December’s Re-Entry Draft, will sign with the minor league Miami FC (NASL), according to Crew technical director Brian Bliss.