KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Halfway through his team's game against Orlando City S.C., Crew head coach Robert Warzycha offered some cutting advice to his players. Playing the role of spirited underdog and buoyed by a home crowd, the Lions had brought an aggressive style of play to the first half that the Crew found itself trying to match. Until, that is, Warzycha simplified things.
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Halfway through his team’s game against Orlando City S.C., Crew head coach Robert Warzycha offered some cutting advice to his players. Playing the role of spirited underdog and buoyed by a home crowd, the Lions had brought an aggressive style of play to the first half that the Crew found itself trying to match.
Until, that is, Warzycha simplified things.
“We were trying to play the same game, trying to be aggressive and it wasn’t anything that was soccer-related for a little bit,” he said. “I didn’t like that, and I told them at halftime. The second half was a little better: We started focusing on the game and passing the ball instead of kicking people.”
The result was a 3-2 win played in uncharacteristically cold conditions during which the Crew never trailed but twice gave up one-goal leads. The final blow came courtesy of Federico Higuain, whose penalty kick in the 89th minute capped a night when he assisted on his team’s other two goals.
Seven yellow cards were handed out — four to the Lions — but Orlando City’s James O’Connor was shown a red card in the 68th minute with the score tied at 1. Josh Williams put the Crew ahead 2-1 six minutes later on a corner kick by Higuain, but the Lions again tied the match when Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum gave up a rebound that deflected off a teammate and into the goal in the 79th minute.
“I think the game was played at the highest intensity of all the preseason games,” defender Tyson Wahl said. “It was the fastest game. They had the crowd behind them. It was a night game. I think it was good in that way because all the other games have been middle-of-the-day preseason games at a slower pace, so it was good for the whole team’s defense to play under that type of pressure.”
The Crew took the lead three minutes into the game but also lost the services of its most experienced player for the evening. As Agustin Viana headed in a Higuain free kick, defender Chad Marshall took an elbow to his head. He lay facedown for several minutes before leaving the field under his own power, but after receiving a concussion test on the sideline he was escorted to the team’s locker room.
Marshall hid his face in his jersey as he walked away from the bench, but Warzycha said he will be fine.
“I thought maybe that was going to be a concussion, but I think he got hit in the jaw,” he said. “At halftime he was sitting on the bench and I knew that he didn’t have a headache or anything else. He’ll be fine for next game.”
The game marked the first goals allowed by the Crew’s first-team defense this preseason.
“That’s great and it feels awesome, but that’s just not realistic,” Wahl said. “You’re not going to go the whole season not getting scored on, so it was good to see how we adapted to goals being let in.”
The Crew will face MLS foe Montreal in the championship game of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic at 8 p.m. Saturday before closing preseason training with the Kirk Urso Memorial Match the following day in Greensboro, N.C.