Crew Cuts: Meram, Hansen return to full trainingThe Columbus Dispatch, Ohio — Andrew Erickson The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio
July 16--With Ben Swanson and Gaston Sauro (season-ending injury list) serving as exceptions, Crew SC expects to be near full strength when it resumes league competition against the Philadelphia Union next Saturday.
Justin Meram (ankle) and Niko Hansen (hernia surgery) both practiced in full Saturday after practicing in limited capacities on Friday at Mapfre Stadium. On Friday, Meram was limited to warmups and running around the field. Hansen participated in drills off to the side but did not compete in team drills while practice was open to the media.
Hansen has missed three straight games, as expected, after undergoing hernia surgery in Wisconsin last month. Meram initially injured his ankle mid-shot in a 2-0 loss to Atlanta United. He returned just a few days later to play the final half-hour of Crew SC's 1-0 victory over Minnesota United.
Were the returns to full training earlier than expected?
"A little bit, I'd say so," coach Gregg Berhalter said. "Niko's been doing a great job of taking care of himself, and Justin we've been cautious with, but today the ankle felt good so we wanted to give him a go."
Berhalter reiterated Saturday he could use 20-plus players Monday in an international friendly against Eintracht Frankfurt in an attempt to give experience to reserve players and limit the workload on regulars with a Saturday game against Philadelphia coming up.
The Crew changed over the majority of its lineup at halftime of a preseason game against the USL's Charleston Battery in February. It's likely Crew SC will use a similar setup on Monday against Eintracht.
"Yeah, we'll probably mix the group," Berhalter said. "It's a reward for these hard training days that guys get to compete."
Eintracht lost 4-1 in a friendly against the San Jose Earthquakes on Friday and played 19 players. San Jose subbed all but one player over the course of the game.
Columbus is the last stop in a three-city American tour for Eintracht during its preseason, but don't expect too dense of a scouting report from Berhalter and his coaching staff on Eintracht's matches in Seattle and San Jose.
"I mean, we watched the Seattle one just to see what they're doing and we'll keep an eye on the San Jose one, but it's not a full analysis," Berhalter said earlier this week. "We want the guys to have fun. We want them to enjoy themselves."
A few players are at least somewhat familiar with Eintracht from watching Bundesliga games on Fox.
"I have (seen Eintracht) a couple times, yeah. Obviously an American guy there in (Timmy Chandler), but they're on FS1 and FS2 and Fox played a lot of Bundesliga this year, so I'm familiar with them," midfielder Ethan Finlay said. "A mid-table team in one of the more underrated leagues. We've had some guys and obviously some coaching staff who were former players in that league, so I've heard stories about the style and I expect a tough game even though it's preseason for them."
He said it
"I think those people are pretty stupid, whoever they may be. And if it's you, don't take it personal."
-- U.S. Men's National Team coach Bruce Arena, on critics of midfielder Alejandro Bedoya
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