Head Coach Robert Warzycha’s first-team selection on Sunday against the Portland Timbers provided Crew fans a chance to see more than half of the squad include in-state talent.
The special Ohio ties have gained some local attention as many were originally featured ahead of the 2013 home-opener at Crew Stadium in an issue of Columbus Alive!. Sunday marked the first time in which three Crew Homegrown Players started in a single match.
In fact, six Ohio-raised athletes managed to make their way into the starting XI, helping the Crew earn a 1-0 victory against a Timbers that entered Crew Stadium unbeaten in their last 15 matches.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Official Statistician of Major League Soccer:
48 players born in Ohio have been signed to an MLS club at some point in their career. Among that total, there are currently 20 active players around the League who hail from the Buckeye State.
13 of those 48 athletes were, at one time or other, under contract to the Crew.
That list of course only includes players that were born in the state of Ohio, and does not include players that were born elsewhere but still consider Ohio their hometowns on official rosters. For example, current Black & Gold players Konrad Warzycha (Born in Poland - raised in Dublin, OH) and Matt Lampson (Born in Tennessee – raised in Hilliard, OH) have specific Ohio ties but are not included below.
The players’ name is followed by the number of appearances they have made for the Crew and the years they called Crew Stadium home.
Chad Barson (8, 2013) Columbus, OH
Eric Brunner (39, 2008-2013) Dublin, OH
Marc Burch (7, 2006-2013) Cincinnati, OH
Brad Friedel (38, 1996-1997) Lakewood, OH
Aaron Horton* (1, 2011-2013) Lakewood, OH
Kyle Hyland (0, 2013) Bay Village, OH
Chris Leitch (37, 2002-2011) Columbus, OH
Danny O'Rourke (140, 2005-2013) Columbus, OH
Kenny Schoeni (1, 2008-2010) Cincinnati, OH
Ben Speas (14, 2012-2013) Stow, OH
Wil Trapp (1, 2013) Columbus, OH
Brandon Ward (6, 1996) Westerville, OH
Josh Williams (47, 2010-2013) Canton, OH
*Currently on loan with LA Blues of USL PRO
When mentioning Dominic Oduro to any Crew supporter, they usually think of two things – his blistering pace and his love of Papa John's pizza. Today, while his speed was not on display, Oduro managed to share a few slices of his favorite pizza with a group of appreciative supporters in front of Crew Stadium.
“I took off a half-day to come down here”, said Chris Welsh, who enjoyed a piece of pizza with his wife and fellow Columbus Crew season ticket holder, Heather. Oduro joined the couple shortly after they were seated, thanked them for their support and encouraged them to grab another slice.
Oduro, who is not shy about relating his fondness for Crew supporters and his own fans alike, remained humbled by the opportunity to give back after working a personal endorsement with the official pizza of the Crew and Crew Stadium.
“I appreciate the fact that some people are coming from work just to be here for a bite – that really makes me feel happy and proud,” said Oduro at the event, which previewed the special $11 Crew Pie – an extra-large pizza conveniently priced after Oduro’s jersey number – set to launch next week.
“I want to thank Papa John's for making this thing happen.”
Even though the turnout was impressive, as more than 150 slices were distributed in the lunch-hour event, Oduro insisted that he was happy with the idea of a low-key event, for the fans.
“I just want to show my appreciation, at the end of the day, to all of the fans out there. It doesn’t matter how many are in the crowd,” said the 27-year-old Ghanaian. “I’d be excited if just one person showed up.”
Complementing the pizza party, the Crew’s leading goal-scorer also made a personal donation to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank as the culinary-based event called for recognition of helping the less fortunate.
“I’m just trying to give back to the community – it’s just another way for me to try and carry it forward. Hopefully my donation to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank can help to feed a couple of people out there. My hope is that people will see what I’m doing and try to do the same.”