One week after possibly the busiest week of international call-ups in Crew SC history, Wednesday’s practice session found the team still short a few players.
At the EAS Training Center in Obetz, the Crew went through 10-on-10 scrimmaging while reporters were present because, well, that’s as many bodies as coach Gregg Berhalter had to work with. Still absent were forward Kei Kamara (Sierra Leone), midfielders Justin Meram (Iraq) and Ben Swanson (United States U-20) and defenders Harrison Afful (Ghana) and Sergio Campbell (Jamaica, then on loan to USL affiliate Austin).
For those who are back, however, it was a chance to start using the experiences they had with their countries to help out their club.
“It’s really good to see your teammates in a different environment and see how they use what they learned here and transfer it over to the national team level,” said midfielder Kevan George from Trinidad & Tobago. “You can tell that it helps the team get better.”
This season, George has made as many appearances for his national team as he has for the Crew: five. In this latest game, George came on in the 70th minute of a 3-3 tie with Mexico played Friday night in Sandy, Utah, a rematch of a 4-4 tie between the teams during the summer’s Gold Cup.
The result left George excited about the future for the Soca Warriors.
“I think it’s something that we can learn from, but it was a lot of improvement (from the Gold Cup),” George said. “I thought we played a much better game. Coach was happy with our performances. It was a good game for the fans as well. (Mexico) didn’t sit back and we didn’t give them the respect because we know that we can compete against them. Now we’re not saying, ‘Hey, we’re better than Mexico.’ We respect them and I think we can compete with them now.”
George said this most recent camp will help prepare the team for World Cup qualifying.
“It was a good transition … just the altitude sucked for the first two or three days,” he said. “There was no drop-off there, being with the team. They’re like family. Everyone is so supportive of each other. We always have fun together, but when it’s business it’s business time. All the friendships go out the window. Speaking for myself, you have to showcase yourself and push your teammates, push yourself so we can be the best Trinidad & Tobago team we can be and take it step by step to do well on the journey to qualify for the World Cup.”
Those players who remained in Columbus were able to watch several of their teammates playing elsewhere and think about others who are awaiting a call.
“I think playing for your country is one of the most rewarding things you can do,” George said. “Playing for your club is great, but when you represent where you come from as a little kid, we’ve seen guys who have made it far from our country and we want to be one of those guys that little kids work towards to become. As far as the other guys go, they’re all deserving and I think a lot more guys in the locker room deserve it as well. Everything is about timing: when it’s your time, it’s your time, whether it’s for club or country.
“I think the guys in the locker room who haven’t been called yet will get their chances, and for those of us who did get called I think we did well.”