For his performance against the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday, Federico Higuaín was named to MLSsoccer.com's Team of the Week for Week Six. With four goals and six assists already this season, Higuaín has earned Team of the Week honors three times through five matches in 2014.
For the first time in his life, Crew midfielder Hector Jimenez is adjusting to life outside of California. Born in Huntington Park outside of Los Angeles, raised in Bell Gardens, schooled at Cal-Berkeley and spending the first three years of his career with the LA Galaxy, Jimenez is anxious to return to the Golden State this weekend when the Crew faces the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday (3:00 p.m. ET / UniMas, Time Warner Cable SportsChannel).
Jimenez is anticipating many of his friends and family in attendance at Buck Shaw Stadium, making the five-hour drive from Southern California.
"This is a game that when I was in LA, I looked forward to the most," Jimenez said after the Crew's Wednesday training session. "I trained with [the Earthquakes] during the summer and stuff like that. It'll be a good game for me, my family is coming up. The team is excited. Hopefully we can get on a winning streak again."
Winning two MLS Supporters' Shields in three seasons with the Galaxy, Jimenez can't help but view the 'Quakes as a rival.
I think [Galaxy vs. Earthquakes] is one of the biggest rivalries in the League, to be honest, during those years I was in LA. It's a team that you go and play at their field, they don't want to lose points."
This weekend marks the only trip the Crew will make to California this season as it hosts the Galaxy and Chivas USA in Columbus later in 2014. Jimenez will surely make the most of his limited return home.
"Just California, the sunshine," answered when asked what he missed most about the Golden State.
"I went to school in the Bay Area. I have a lot of friends still there, so it will be good to see them and play well in front of them."
The only downside of versatility is never knowing where a player might line-up on the field.
Though he's featured solely at centerback in his first season with the Black & Gold, Michael Parkhurst has featured at both left and rightback for the U.S. Men's National Team. Most recently, the Crew Captain put in a solid 90-minute performance in a 2-2 draw with Mexico last week.
Following Wednesday's training session in Obetz, Parkhurst could be seen working on his crosses from the left side. With the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil steadily approaching, Parkhurst is working to stay sharp should he get the call from National Team Head Coach Jürgen Klinsmann.
"I just want to make sure every now and then I'm hitting some crosses from the left and the right because you never know when I'll play there for the Crew or for the National Team," he said. "I just want to be able to have a good performance whenever I'm called upon to be an outside back."
In his tenth season as a pro, Parkhurst has earned 25 caps for the Stars and Stripes and is in competition for the United States' final 23-man roster for this summer's World Cup.
Saturday's 2-0 loss to Toronto FC ended the Crew's perfect record and saw the the Black & Gold slip in this week's Power Rankings. After sitting atop ESPNFC and Sports Illustrated's rankings last week, the Crew still lands in the top five in both outlets' lists and comes in at the number four position in MLSSoccer.com's weekly rankings. See the full Power Rankings below.
MLSSoccer.com: 4 (2)
ESPNFC: 5 (1)
Crew defender Ross Friedman picked up an assist in Dayton Dutch Lions FC's 1-0 win to open USL-PRO play over the weekend against the Charlotte Eagles. Friedman found Dayton forward Brock Granger on a corner kick for the match-winner in the 40th minute. Fellow Crew loanees Kevan George, Matt Walker and Aaron Schoenfeld also saw action for the Dutch Lions in the win. Schoenfeld nearly doubled Dayton's lead, but his shot from outside the box hit the woodwork just ahead of the halftime whistle.
"I'm just really happy."
In the middle of a chilly April downpour in Central Ohio, that's how Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark says he's adjusting to life in Columbus after spending the last four years playing abroad in Norway. Born and raised in Michigan, Clark is happy to back in the warmth of Midwest hospitality.
"I'm really happy, that's all I can really say," he said with a smile. "I keep saying that because it's the truth. I'm just super happy. It's simple, but it's the truth."
For Clark and his fiancee, Carella, it's the simple things like baseball and American television they enjoy about living life back Stateside.
"We're just kind of still happy to be in the States. It's kind of hard to understand, but when you leave you're just kind of happy here. When you leave the country for four years, you don't take for granted just being here. That may seem strange, but everything is good."
He continued: "Watching the news, or just watching American programs -- I haven't had March Madness in years. I haven't had [Major League Baseball] in four years. Those things are very exciting."
Undefeated and averaging less than one goal against in three matches so far this season, the soccer transition has been positive as well -- but not just for Clark.
Carella played collegiately at Appalachian State University and at Clark's alma mater, Oakland University. Now, she's helping out with coaching on the girls' side of the Crew's youth development system.
"She's coaching, she's trying to talk lineups with me, trying to talk strategy," Clark laughs. "We're a soccer house through and through."
Less than four months after moving to Ohio, it seems the future Clark family has found a home in Columbus.
Crew defender Michael Parkhurst earned his 25th cap for the United States on Wednesday in the United States' 2-2 draw with Mexico at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Parkhurst made his second-straight start at leftback, and played the full 90 minutes in the draw.
The Crew Captain is due back in Columbus ahead of the Black & Gold's Trillum Cup clash with Toronto FC, presented by Scotts, on Saturday.
Crew Soccer Academy midfielders George Braima and Ben Swanson were recently called-up to represent the United States at the U-17 and U-18 levels, respectively.
Braima and the U-17 U.S. Men's National Team head to Bosnia-Herzegovina for the Josip Katalinski International Tournament and two international friendlies in Zagreb, Croatia. In the Katalinski Tournament, the U.S. takes on Montenegro and Sarajevo Select before wrapping up play in the tournament against either the Bosnia U-17 National Team, Belgrade Select or the Macedonia U-17 National Team in a placement match. In Zagreb, the U.S. plays Croatia on April 8 and April 10.
Swanson and the U.S. U-18 squad will stay stateside for a camp that includes a friendly with Canada on April 8 and another against Mexico on April 12. Swanson recently trained with the Crew First Team following the Copa del Atlantico in the Canary Islands.
Following Saturday's dramatic 2-1 victory in Seattle, the Crew is at the top of ESPNFC and Sports Illustrated's Planet Fútbol Power Rankings this week. On MLSsoccer.com's list, Gregg Berhalter's side is in the number two spot just behind FC Dallas. Through three matches this season, the Black & Gold are the only club with a perfect record in MLS.
See the full rankings below.
MLSsoccer.com: 2 (4)
ESPNFC: 1 (7)
SI's Planet Fútbol: 1 (10)
Chad Marshall won't be the only one seeing old friends as oppostion on Saturday when the Crew takes on Seattle Sounders FC. Defender Tyson Wahl was selected by the Sounders in the 2008 MLS Expansion Draft and made 39 appearances in three seasons for the club before being picked up by the Montreal Impact in the 2011 MLS Expansion Draft.
Saturday's match will mark the first time Wahl has returned to CenturyLink Field despite having played for three clubs since his departure in 2011.
"It's definitely one you circle on the schedule," Wahl said of his return. "I have fond memories of being here. It's definitely been a while. Last year, we didn't travel out here. My previous team's just didn't go. It's exciting. It's nice to be around the city and I'm definitely excited to step out on the stadium field again."
Wahl helped Sounders FC to three-straight Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups during his time in the Emerald City.