Taking a mental break from preparing for this weekend's rivalry match against D.C. United, four Crew players took the time to make their picks in this year's NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. The trash talking commenced as the players filled out their brackets after training.
Rookie defender Drew Beckie is projecting a Final Four of Louisville, Ohio State, Kansas and Miami, but basketball may not exactly be his forte.
"Beckie, this isn't hockey!" fellow rookie Daniel Withrow teased the proud Canadian and Denver University product as he filled out his bracket. "The Frozen Four is later."
Eric Gehrig returns to the Crew Bracket Challenge this season after finishing in fourth-place last year behind Josh Williams, Justin Meram and winner Ethan Finlay. A native of Northwest Indiana, Gehrig is picking his home-state Hoosiers to win the National Championship.
Pumped for Akron's fourth tournament appearance in school history, and third since 2009, Homegrown midfielder Wil Trapp is picking his Zips to pull off an opening round upset against Dominic Oduro's VCU Rams. The Gahanna native is picking the hometown Ohio State Buckeyes to knock off Indiana in the National Championship Final.
Finally, forward Aaron Schoenfeld is picking the Miami Hurricanes to prevail in the Final Four against Duke, Gonzaga and Michigan-- all No. 2 seeds, except the top-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs of the West Region.
The Scoring System:
- 3 points for each team correctly picked to advance to the Round of 32.
- 5 points for each team picked in the Sweet 16.
- 10 points for each team in the Elite 8.
- 25 points for each team in the Final 4.
- 50 points for each team in the National Championship.
- 100 points for correctly picking the National Champion.
Stay tuned to TheCrew.com to see which player will have bragging rights around Crew Stadium.
When Crew forward Ryan Finley transferred to Notre Dame after his sophmore season at Duke, he probably expected to start a few games for the Irish after netting 28 goals for the Blue Devils in two seasons.
Notre Dame Head Coach Bobby Clark saw things differently.
Using college soccer's unique substition rules to an advantage, Clark inserted Finley into his tactics 20 minutes into each game. Finley went on to score 28 goals, 21 of which came in 2012, despite not starting a single match in two seasons in South Bend.
"[Coming off the bench] was something I got used to," Finley explained. "The starters only played 20 minutes and I'd come on for 70 minutes, so it wasn't like I was playing only 30 minutes or anything. I was seeing an extended amount of time each game."
With Jairo Arrieta away with the Costa Rican National Team, Finley has the chance to start his first match in two years when the Black & Gold plays D.C. United on Saturday. The rookie is ready for whichever direction Head Coach Robert Warzycha decides to take on Saturday.
"I've played soccer for a long time," he said. "Whether I'm starting or coming off the bench, I think I can adapt my game and hopefully help the team out."
The U.S. Soccer Development Academy season resumed over the weekend as both Crew Soccer Academy squads traveled to Indianapolis for Sunday matches against the Indiana Fire. Goals from Jacob Atkinson and Charlie Reymann led the Crew U-18 squad to 2-0 victory over the top-of-the-table Fire. In the U-16 match, CSA battled back from a two-goal deficit to salvage a 2-2 draw with both tallies coming in the final 10 minutes from Omar Mohamed and Brett Smalley.
The U-16 squad currently sits in sixth-place in the USSDA Central Conference behind the CSA Wolves (MI) in first-place. In the U-18 division, CSA is currently in eighth-place in the Central entering spring play.
To cap off Black & Gold Week, Columbus City Hall showed its support for its hometown soccer team by placing a massive Crew jersey on the corner of Front and Broad Streets.
"The Crew is one of many reasons why Columbus is a dynamic and exciting city to live in and visit," said City Council President Andrew J. Ginther. "I encourage all resident to come out and support the Crew this weekend and all season long."
Brand Ambassador Frankie Hejduk gave away tickets to Opening Match all afternoon as part of his "Find Frankie" scavenger hunt.
Be sure to check out the Black & Gold's coverage in the March 14 edition of Columbus Alive!. Crew Soccer Academy products Kyle Hyland, Chad Barson, Ben Speas, Matt Lampson and Aaron Horton (Wil Trapp was in Mexico for International duty) are featured on the cover as Alive! writer Chris DeVille examines the evolving soccer development model in the United States and its impact in Columbus.
Also featured in the issue, editor Justin McIntosh educates readers on the Crew's supporter culture. And finally, Alive! reporter Jackie Mantey profiles the artists behind the tifo art that can be found in the Nordecke throughout the season.
Thanks again to the Alive! staff and remember to pick up a FREE copy of the issue anywhere around the city.
It's not often Crew supporters have the chance to interact and mingle with players and staff. Ahead of the club's Opening Match on Saturday, the team held its annual Supporters' Summit on Tuesday night with special guests Crew President and General Manager Mark McCullers, Technical Director Brian Bliss, Head Coach Robert Warzycha and defenders Josh Williams and Gláuber available for questions.
The event was open to Nordecke season ticket holders and active members of supporters' groups. Fans were able to ask any question they wanted to the panel. Topics ranged from Goal 10K progress to Robert Warzycha's jacket.
"Every year that the Crew tries to do something like this, it's great to actually have that connection between fans and the Front Office, players, coaches-- the whole spectrum," Supporter Aaron Angel said. "That's what sets this team apart from everyone else, they're so close with the community and continually striving to keep that relationship open. The dialogue between the two sides is always formal, always cordial."
"It's always great interacting with the players," fellow supporter Julia Oesch added. "I'm a huge Josh Williams fan, and he knows it. He's always so cordial, all of the players are. They always want to just sit talk, give you a hug and say 'Hi.' It's always a great experience meeting Robert [Warzycha] and the Front Office. They're really relaxed and they want to get to talk to us, which is nice."
For Williams, its was a nice change of pace from typically interacting with fans through Twitter.
"You can kind of put a face to a Twitter name now," the defender said. "It's good because you don't normally get to meet fans that much. This is more of a personal setting here. I was a little nervous at first when I didn't know what they would be asking, but they handled pretty well.
"It was fun to get up there and hear some interesting stuff and some funny questions here and there."
The Crew's resident Canadian Drew Beckie is looking forward to a weekend trip across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The rookie defender is expected to be welcomed by friends, family and fellow Canadians for the match.
"I'm always excited to go back [to Canada]," Beckie said over the phone. "Even though Vancouver isn't home, I love being back and I'm looking forward to seeing friends there."
After playing four years at Denver University, Beckie can't wait to hear "Oh, Canada!" played before kickoff for the first time in his professional career. The Regina, Saskatchewan native has represented his country at the U-17, U-20 and U-23 levels in the past.
"I'm a very proud Canadian," he explained. "I love the National Anthem. I think Americans love theirs too, but it's just something that's in the Canadian spirit. Playing for the National Team, you really feel that pride to represent Canada. I'm really excited to hear 'Oh, Canada!'"
Despite his Saskatchewan roots, Beckie is an avid follower of the NHL Vancouver Canucks. The rookie faces a conundrum as his Canucks face the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday evening, but the rookie isn't bailing on the team he grew up cheering for.
"I always root for the Canucks, but now Columbus is my hometown team," Beckie said. "I'm kind of torn, but I'm going to go with Vancouver. I don't want to make any enemies, but I'll say it will be a draw and an overtime win for the Canucks. That's the easiest way I can predict the game."
Despite falling 3-1 in Sunday's Final against Mexico, Crew midfielder Wil Trapp earned a spot on the CONCACAF U-20 Championship's Best XI team. The Gahanna native started all six matches for the United States and scored one goal in the tournament to help his country qualify for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
"[Trapp] was one of the guys that was one of our 'Steady Eddies' throughout the tournament and his presence in the middle of the midfield allowed some of our other attacking players to do what they do best and improvise, and Wil is a good reader of the game and anticipates a lot of things that could happen and do happen," said Crew Technical Director and U-20 Assistant Coach Brian Bliss of Trapp's performance after the Mexico match.
"Knowing what we know about him, and what he does on the field, he's an essential part of that group and his consistent play is probably his biggest asset, along with his ability to read the game and his leadership. He's a great asset for that team and we look forward to him playing in the U-20 World Cup."
Trapp will return to Columbus this week to begin his rookie season in MLS before re-joining the U.S. U-20s for the FIFA World Cup in Turkey this summer.
Though over 2,200 miles away, the Crew's weekend trip to Los Angeles will be a homecoming of sorts for Southern California natives Chad Marshall and Tyson Wahl. Marshall (Riverside) and Wahl (Newport Beach) played youth soccer together and are expecting plenty of friends and family to be in attendance at the Home Depot Center for the Black & Gold's match against Chivas USA on Saturday.
"There will definitely some family and a couple friends at the game," Wahl said on Thursday. "It's always nice to go to LA and it would be especially nice to come away with a win."
The Crew hasn't played at the Home Depot Center since 2011, and Marshall is looking forward to playing in front of family once again.
"It'll be nice to have a good group of friends and family there," the veteran defender said. "It'll be cool to get to play in front of them, especially because we didn't get to go out there last year."
Kickoff for Saturday's match is slated for 10:30 p.m. ET and can be found on FOX Sports Ohio.
Playing in the biggest match of his young career, a massive weight was lifted off of Wil Trapp's shoulders as the United States handled Canada 4-2 in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship quarterfinal to qualify for this summer's 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey on Tuesday night. Trapp's deflected, long-distance volley to make it 3-1 just before haftime gave the U.S. the momentum it needed to hold of its rival to the North in the second half and secure the victory.
Trapp and the United States move on to face Cuba in the semifinal of the regional tournament on Friday, March 1 at 6 p.m. ET.