The college soccer season kicked off this past weekend. Here's a look at how some Crew Youth alumni started the season in NCAA Division I:
Akron Zips- (1-0-0) This Week:4-0 W vs. Florida Gulf Goast.
Caleb Porter started five Crew Youth products in the Zips' rout of Florida Gulf Coast Friday night. Wil Trapp, Chad Barson, Eric Stevenson, Thomas Schmitt, and freshman Andrew Souders all played starting roles in the 4-0 win. Stevenson and Schmitt scored the first two goals of the match. In addition, Stevenson supplied the assist to Schmitt on his way to being named to College Soccer News' National Team of the Week.
The Crew's Director of Soccer Business Development, Jeremy Parkins, was at Cub Cadet Field for the season opener: "It was exciting to see five former players from our system have the opportunity to start for one of the top teams in the country... The first goal of the evening was Eric Stevenson with a shot from about 20 yards out, and so it was exciting to see that go in. Then, Eric found Thomas Schmitt for the second goal. It was exciting to see our guys scoring goals."
Louisville Cardinals- (0-1-0) This Week: 0-3 at Maryland
The Cardinals opened the season with a 3-0 loss on the road to Maryland. 2010 product Alex Obbey came off the bench and had one of Louisville's better chances in the 40th minute, but his attempt was blocked by the Maryland defense.
Xavier Musketeers- (0-0-1) This week: 1-1 D at Northwestern
Both Matt and Will Walker started and played significant minutes in the Musketeers' road draw against Northwestern. Matt Hill and freshman Rhodes Moore each came off the bench for Xavier. Matt Walker recorded three shots with one being on target, while Moore was able to force one shot in the stalemate.
Boston College Golden Eagles- (1-0-0) This Week: 2-1 W at Quinnipiac
Goalkeeper Justin Luthy saved five shots to help the No. 14 Golden Eagles to the 2-1 victory. Boston College returns to action Monday night against Boston University.
UCLA Bruins- (0-1-0) This Week: 3-2 L vs. New Mexico
The second-ranked Bruins fell to No. 6 New Mexico on Friday night. Defender Matt Wiet played the whole match and nearly recorded an assist from a long throw-in. UCLA returns to action on the road against Maryland on August 31.
The good folks at TopDrawerSoccer.com, Travis Clark and J.R. Eskilson, highlighted the Top 30 Homegrown prosepects playing in NCAA Division I this season. Which one of these players will follow in the footsteps of Aaron Horton, Matt Lampson, and Ben Speas?
From the article:
D Chad Barson, Akron, Senior (Columbus Crew): A solid center back and experienced senior -- Barson has played in 73 games in his college career to this point -- Barson is going to be a prominent figure on Akron’s side once again.
Who's ready for football season?
To hold you over, here's footage of Crew forward Justin Meram kicking field goals during his time at the University of Michigan. Meram briefly spent time place kicking with the Wolverines football team before deciding to focus solely on soccer.
After spending the summer playing with the United States U-15 and U-17 National Teams, Crew Soccer Academy standout Benny Swanson has accepted an offer to participate in the US U-17 Residency program in Bradenton, Florida.
The 15-year-old Grove City native hopes his decision will help him secure a spot in next year's U-17 World Cup.
"It's a great opportunity. It was kind of hard to pass up," Swanson said. "The [FIFA U-17] World Cup is next year in Dubai. I would like to make that roster, hopefully. If I don't, I hope I just learn every day in training in that environment with that pro mentality."
"It's great for our organization," Crew Technical Director Brian Bliss said. "Obviously it's a little bit premature to be speaking about Benny as a future pro for the club, but he's on the right track. It gives credibility to our organization on the youth side as to what we're doing."
Bliss says residency can only help Swanson's promising skill set.
"Right now, he's only getting three or four days of training each week, he's going to get five or six days each week training with the top players in the country at his age [in Bradenton]." Bliss explained. "He's got the ability to break down players off of the dribble and create on his own. He works for the good of the team in terms of being a team player. He's got an eye for the pass and can deliver it. He's got a multitude of skills and being in that environment for the next year, it's going to make him a better player."
The young midfielder's drive and skill set reminds Bliss of a certain US Men's National Team mainstay.
"He's got a lot of things Michael Bradley had," Bliss said. "Bradley grew physically really quick at the end, but he was also undersized. [Bradley] had the ability to dribble, pass, create, and had the same attitude and hunger for the game that Benny has. There are some comparisons. They may be unfair because Michael is a full national team player and I don't want to put pressure on [Swanson], but he's got a lot of this same [skills]."
Being in the same sentence with Bradley and others who attended the U-17 Residencty previously such as Landon Donovan, Brek Shea, and Eddie Gaven is still surreal Swanson says, but he remains determined to one day don the Black & Gold as a professional.
"It's kind of surreal, but I've been working hard. That's where hard work will get you," Swanson said. "The Crew has helped me a lot to progress as a player and as a person."
"[Playing professionally for the Crew] would be a dream come true," he finished.
Admittedly, Houston hasn't been my favorite city I've visited with the Crew this season. It's extremely hot and humid, there's nothing to do around the team hotel, and nearly every restraunt downtown is closed on Sunday.
However, the Dynamo's new BBVA Compass Stadium has made up for the misfortunes mentioned above.
The first thing I noticed when I walked into the stadium: there's a lot of orange in this place.
Outside the press box, images of various Houston Chronicle front pages over the past few years pay homage to Dynamo's short time in Houston.
A Dynamo legend overlooks the entrance to every lower-level section. For example, here's Brian Ching at the entryway to Section 125.
Here's the view from the north end of the stadium, looking toward the stage area. The dimensions of the field at BBVA Compass Stadium are 70 yards x 115 yards to suit the Dynamo's style of play and execution on set pieces. The MLS preference for pitch size is 75 yards x 120 yards.
In the southwest corner of the stadium is where the Dynamo supporters groups sit. No, Crew fans, it's not as big as the Nordecke.
Finally, and most importantly, the Crew's Equipment Manager Rusty Wummel was a happy camper with the spacey visiting locker room.
The wait is over, Crew fans.
Designated Player Federico Higuaín arrived in Columbus Wednesday morning from Argentina. The forward will be introduced Thursday at 10AM EST right here on TheCrew.com via live stream.
Check back later for more details.
Federico Higuaín's move to Columbus was halted by a snag in the Argentine immigration office, but the striker should be in Black & Yellow soon Technical Director Brian Bliss said this afternoon.
"According to what the immigration people have told us, the stamp has been placed into [Higuaín's] passport," Bliss explained. "Federico is en route to pick it up either today or early tomorrow morning. Once he gets the passport, Tucker [Walther, the Crew's Director of Team Operations] will book his ticket [to Columbus]."
Higuaín will not be available for Wednesday's match against the LA Galaxy, but Sunday's match in Houston could be a possibility.
The Crew Soccer Academy's U17 squad finished in third place of the 2012 Generation Adidas Cup Thursday in Tukwila, Washington. The U17s topped the San Jose Earthquakes side 3-2 behind Benny Swanson's game-winner.
Hilliard native Nathan Kohl won the Golden Boot at the tournament, scoring six goals in all.
The squad was made up of players born in 95 and 96 from CSA, CSA Wolves, Challenger Crew Juniors and Grand Rapids Crew Juniors:
Matthew Appel (Canal Winchester, OH) Crew Soccer Academy
William Bayemi (Canal Winchester, OH) Crew Soccer Academy
Aiden Bean (Powell, OH) Crew Soccer Academy
Brady Blackwell (Dublin, OH) Crew Soccer Academy
Sam Brown (Ann Arbor, MI) Crew Soccer Academy Wolves
Julian Castro (Lorain, OH) Challenger Crew Juniors
Georges Daoud (Columbus, OH) Crew Soccer Academy
Dominic Grida (North Royalton, OH) Challenger Crew Juniors
Carter Grimm (Columbus, OH) Crew Soccer Academy
Noah Hutchins (Columbus, OH) Crew Soccer Academy
Tyler Kidwell (Dublin, OH) Crew Soccer Academy
Nathan Kohl (Hilliard, OH) Crew Soccer Academy
Andrew Lewis (Rockford, MI) Grand Rapids Crew Juniors
Andrew McKelvey (Dublin, OH) Crew Soccer Academy
Charlie Reymann (Worthington, OH) Crew Soccer Academy
Carter Richardson (Dublin, OH) Crew Soccer Academy
John Schuman (Columbus, OH) Crew Soccer Academy
Ryan Scott (Grand Rapids, MI) Grand Rapids Crew Juniors
Benjamin Swanson (Grove City, OH) Crew Soccer Academy
Blake Townes (Canton, MI) Crew Soccer Academy Wolves
To help pay tribute to Kirk Urso, Crew veterans Eddie Gaven and Andy Gruenebaum were kind enough to share their memories of their fallen teammate.
Eddie Gaven: "One of my fondest memories of Kirk was down in Florida during preseason this year. We had some down time in between training sessions, and so Andy and I invited him over to our room to teach him how to play Settlers of Catan, a nerdy board game we sometimes play. I figured it'd take him a while to learn and so I was expecting to get a few easy victories against him. But he picked it up incredibly fast -- so fast actually, that he beat us the first two games! I remember thinking then, that there was something special about this kid. And indeed, there was. He was everything you could ask for in a teammate -- honest, hard-working, and humble. On the field, I always wanted him on my team during practice, and off the field, I always enjoyed his company, his sense of humor, and his infectious positive attitude. I will miss him as my teammate for sure. But I'll miss him even more as my friend."
Andy Gruenebaum: "From day one of preseason, it was apparent that Kirk was tailor made for our locker room. It is very rare for a rookie to come into a professional environment and put their stamp on the clubhouse, both personality and playing wise. I can speak volumes about the characters of all of our rookie class this year, but Kirk seemed to embody everything that a friend would want, and a franchise could build upon. Even with an injury setback, Kirk showed up everyday with a smile on his face, and a positive demeanor. I have never had the privilege of meeting Kirk's family, however in my blessed time around Kirk, it is obvious that he had a wonderful upbringing and support group in his friends and family that helped shape him into the wonderful person that he was!"
A special thank you to Eddie and Andy for sharing these memories of Kirk during this difficult time.
Major League Soccer has granted the Crew permission to wear a patch on the club's uniforms to memorialize Kirk Urso, who passed away suddenly on August 5.
"We kept (the design) within the style and tradition that we have established at the club in honoring those that have passed," team equipment manager Rusty Wummel explained. "We have two styles. The black will be used on the home kits and the gold will be used on the secondary kits, placement is above the Adidas logo."
The Crew hopes the patches will be ready in time for Wednesday's match against the LA Galaxy.
Check out the mock-up below: