Crew midfielder Chris Birchall was like a little kid on Christmas when he found out he'd be playing against his hometown club Stoke City on his first day of training with the Black & Gold.
"That just made my day," Birchall expressed with laughter upon learning the news back in May. "I just can't believe what you just said, really."
"Stoke is exactly where I lived. I know a lot of the Stoke players," he continued. "I get to share the field with my best friend."
Birchall's best friend is Stoke defender Andy Wilkinson. The Potters' right back seved as Birchall's best man at his wedding back in June and is godfather to Birchall's son, Ashley.
"The chances of (Birchall) coming from the other side of the world to play for a team, then for us through a preseason tour that we've never done before to come and play against him-- the chances are unreal," Wilkinson said after Stoke's Monday training session in Obetz.
The two have know each other since they were six, and have been best friends ever since. Wilkinson says they're both looking forward to getting the best of each other on the field Tuesday night.
"We've only played each other a couple of times," the Potter said.
"If there's a chance for a tackle, I'm sure neither of us will back out," Wilkinson said laughing.
The Crew and Stoke City kick off at 7:30PM EST from Crew Stadium.
For Birchall's take on the match, listen to the latest edition of the Sideline Sit Down.
FOX Sports Ohio analyst Duncan Oughton previews tonight's match against D.C. United.
Crew legend Frankie Hejduk took to the streets of Columbus early Friday morning on a trolley decked out in Black & Gold to rally fans ahead of tomorrow's match against D.C. United. Afterward, Frankie joined 99.7 The Blitz's Loper and Randi on air to help promote the match.
With training open to over 1000 local youth for Kids Day at Crew Stadium, Crew defender Josh Williams was showered with chants to dunk the ball over the crossbar. As you can see from the GIF below, J3 gave the kids what they were asking for:
Crew rookie Ethan Finlay was recently honored with the Omaha World-Herald's prestigious Fred Ware Award for his accomplishments playing for Creighton University. According to the World-Herald's website, "The Ware Award is given annually to the four-year college athlete in Nebraska who, in the judgment of the newspaper's editors, made the most significant achievement in sports while representing the best traditions of his or her institution. The late Fred Ware organized The World-Herald's sports department and served as sports editor from 1924 to 1942, and later was managing editor and a member of the newspaper's board of directors."
Past winners of the Ware Award include current Detroit Lions star Ndamukong Suh, Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, Atlanta Hawks sharpshooter Kyle Korver, and Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch.
For the full article, check out the World-Herald's feature on the Crew rookie.
Photo courtesy of Creighton Athletics.
Crew Technical Director and United States U-20 Men's National Team assistant coach Brian Bliss and Crew Soccer Academy product Wil Trapp left Columbus on Monday for the 2012 Milk Cup in Northern Ireland. The U-20s will train at Liverpool FC's facilities this week before their opening match on Saturday against defending champions Denmark. After finishing in third place last year, Trapp feels the U-20s are poised to make a run at the title in 2012.
"I'm pretty excited," the Akron midfielder said last week. "We've got a good group going. I think with the team we have, we can make a good run at the final."
"The level of competition is good," Bliss added. "It's still, from those countries and the U.S. as well, the preparatory phase leading up to the next cycle for the (FIFA U-20 World Cup) qualifying period. So it's a good opportunity for us to get into Europe and play some quality European teams to measure ourselves and see where we're at. We're looking forward to it. We've been invited to that tournament for a number of years and we've done well in the past there. I think we have the same expectations this time around."
Trapp has split his time between this summer between the U-20 National Team, training with the Crew, and playing with Bliss and the Crew Juniors Super-20s.
"I've been playing a lot of high quality games, training with the Crew as well has been helping me a lot," Trapp said of his progression in 2012. "Just working on speed of play, it's gotten a lot faster. My range of passing as well. I think playing with the National Team, as well as training (with the Crew), has really pushed me to the next level a little bit more."
"(Trapp) brings the same stuff to the table every time," Bliss complimented the Gahanna native. "He brings a good attitude, professionalism, he knows his role, and he's a leader when he's on the field. Organizing, he's generally in possession of the ball, and guys look to him for that stuff whether it's with (the Crew) or the U-20s."
The U-20 National Team will compete against Chile, Denmark, Mexico, Turkey, and host Northern Ireland at the Milk Cup.
Ahead of Buck-a-Beer, Buck-a-Brat Night, Duncan Oughton previews the Crew vs. Sporting Kansas City.
Duncan Oughton's new feathered haircut inspired the debate of the worst haircuts in Crew history at Thursday's training. Here is the input from Crew players and staff:
Head Athletic Trainer Dave Lagow: Terrible haircuts I've seen: Eric Gehrig, terrible this year and the long, Beetlejuice, some would argue the Crypt Keeper from Tales of the Crypt to the terrible combover he has right now. Cole Grossman, last year just went in for a normal haircut and came out with an awful, awful child's haircut which led to him grown his hair out like a girl, terribly. But he's kind of got it back together now. Duncan Oughton, present. Rusty Wummel- not a bad haircut, but a bad style. I would argue, prior to my time, the Guille mullet was not a good look. I hate to do it, because he's been a great addition this year, but (assistant athletic trainer) Phil Watson had a terrible haircut this year, which he felt awful about. He needed a haircut, he had a very specific instruction to the woman and she ran with it and it butchered it. He was a Peyton Manning lookalike.
Eric Gehrig: My defense is, it was damage control…
Cole Grossman interjects: Can I just go on record and say that I've liked all of his haircuts? (laughs) I just want that to go on record to show that I'm his only friend, his only true friend that appreciates his hair.
Gehrig: My current hair situation is due to (a female hair stylist at a Columbus salon that will not be named) really did me bad.
Josh Williams: How much did you pay for that?
Gehrig: Fifteen or twenty. Then I had to go home, go shorter, and this is where it's at. But for sure, worst haircut on the team is Netzo.
Andy Gruenebaum: Everyone is going to say Gehrig. Gehrig had a Zack Morris phase. He's had a lot of different phases. I'm going to go Netzo. I don't know what he's doing with that hair. It's beyond anything a Jewish man could accomplish.
Equipment manager Rusty Wummel: There's been so many guys with so many bad haircuts… Manu (Emmanuel Ekpo), when he first came, it was pretty bad… Duncan never left the seventies. That's part of his problem, in general. It explains a lot about him.
Chad Marshall: The one that Duncan has right now. He asks for the Lloyd Christmas I think… I think it's straight Lloyd Christmas from Dumb and Dumber.
Duncan Oughton: Chad said that? He's ridiculous. Worst haircut… There's been a lot of them over the years. Gehrig's is kind of a lack of haircut. Obviously, front office-wise, Brian Bliss's horseshoes are less than average. Your red hair, Cody, it's struggling. (Editor's note: It's strawberry blonde.) Sebastian Rozental, when he was her had kind of a Worzel Gummidge thing going on, like a scarecrow cut. Bobby's mustache, in terms of hair was really bad and occasionally still is. As a consistent performer of bad hair, I'm going to say Danny O'Rourke. He thinks it looks amazing, but it's always emo, there's been cornrows at one point in time. It really just average… Also, Mike Lapper's hair hasn't changed in 12 years. It's the LEGO man clip on cut.
Danny O'Rourke: No comment.
Eddie Gaven: The worst haircut would have to be my army haircut from 2008. I tried to cut my own hair. It didn't work out too well, so I had to buzz it and it was real high and tight. I got grilled by the guys for a while from it. I don't even know if I had a beard back then, so I just looked really weird. That's probably the worst haircut in my time here. Basically, I'm throwing myself under the bus.
While reading a blog entry about life in Montreal written by Impact rookie Andrew Wenger on a Duke University website for a Soccer and Politcs class, I stumbled upon a well-written research paper by current Crew midfielder Cole Grossman written during his time as a Blue Devil about soccer in Africa. Written in 2009, Grossman looks at the future of soccer on the African continent following the 2010 World Cup.
Check it out here.
Photo courtesy of Duke Athletics.
In just a couple of hours, the Crew will kick off against new Eastern Conference rival the Montreal Impact. Originally opened in 2008 for the NASL Impact, the team kicked off MLS play in the newly renovated Stade Saputo on June 16 with a 4-1 win over the Seattle Sounders. Before the Crew plays its first game in MLS's newest stadium, here is your own personal tour of the Stade Saputo:
The view from the northwest corner(where the Nordecke would be at Crew Stadium) of Stade Saputo at field level. Notice the observatory from Olympic Stadium, home of the former Montreal Expos, in the background.
The vantage point from atop the Impact supporters' section facing south.
My view of all the action tonight, from the press box.
Finally, Rusty Wummel and Dave Lagow's office for the night: the visiting locker room.