Crew Rookie Kevan George returned to Columbus on Wednesday after serving international duty for the Trinidad & Tobago U23 squad for CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying in Los Angeles. Though the U23 Soca Warriors failed to move on to the next round of qualifying in Kansas City, George's time with the T&T U23s provided valuable experience.
"It was a phenomenal experience overall," George said of his time with the Soca Warriors. "I learned to play with different players and adapt to different roles that the coaches wanted me to perform."
After going 90 minutes in all three of T&T's qualifying matches, the rookie midfielder is happy to be back with the Black & Gold.
"I missed being around the guys and training with the team I was drafted with. I'm just happy to be (in Columbus) again," George said Thursday.
With both a first team and a reserve match this weekend in Toronto, George could see minutes with the Crew in some capacity.
Following Thursday's training session, Eric Gehrig, Justin Meram, and Josh Williams brought a little basketball to the pitch, check it out:
It's never to late to scout the enemy.
Check out highlights from Toronto FC's 1-1 draw against Santos Laguna in CONCACAF Champions League last night:
The Crew's newest signing, forward Aaron Schoenfeld, sat down with TheCrew.com's Cody Sharrett to talk about his path to Columbus, his MLS debut, and more.
Cody Sharrett: Aaron, first of all, welcome to Columbus. Explain the process and emotions of leaving the Montreal Impact camp and getting a call from the Crew.
Aaron Schoenfeld: The day I got released from Montreal, I was pretty devasted-- as any player would be. It's been definitely my dream to become a professional soccer player. When that happened, it was kind of a whirlwind. You don't know if anything else is going to work out. At the same time, when I got released, the next day I was in camp with Orlando City SC, a USL side. I trained with them for three or four days, and then I got a call from (the Crew). It was just crazy, the turn of events. I was more than excited to have one more opportunity. I knew if I didn't make it here, I would have to end up playing in a lower division.
CS: You made your debut against the team that cut you, Montreal. You had a couple of good touches, but never really got a chance at goal, was there any extra motivation to score against the Impact?
AS: I little bit, for sure. At the same time, I'm not saying I disagree with their decision... I was confident enough and I thought I should've made their roster, but since I'm not mad at them there's no hard feelings. Obviously, I wanted to go out there and not necessarily prove that they made a mistake, but at the same time those are my buds and it's always fun to score on your friends.
CS: You're from Knoxville, Tennessee. MLS-wise that's kind of a no-man's land. Were there any teams you followed growing up?
AS: To be honest, the Columbus Crew is the closest team to Knoxville. If you do support MLS there, it's the Columbus Crew. Growing up, we played tournaments in Dayton. A lot of my teammates and I would drive to the Crew games.
CS: You're obviously a big guy at 6'3", providing a nice target forward for the Crew. What weapons do you bring to the field?
AS: I try to use my strength and my size the best that I can. If I utilize it, it can be an advantage: being big, trying to hold the play up and linking other people in. Pretty much, my game should be around the ball, getting a head to the end of balls, and getting tap-ins off the rebound.
Crew legend Brian McBride made his television debut over the weekend, appearing on Fox Soccer's Matchday and Goals On Sunday. The former United States national team captain served as an in-studio analyst, providing commentary on weekend action in the Barclay's Premier League. McBride will continue to give his take on the beautiful game throughout the week for Fox Soccer's coverage of the UEFA Champions League.
In addition to his in-studio work, McBride sat down with FoxSoccer.com's Jamie Trecker to dish on the current state of American soccer. (Nevermind the jersey he's wearing in the photo.)
Heading into Final Four week, Justin Meram retained his lead in the Crew's bracket challenge. Meram, Eric Gehrig, and Cole Grossman tied for correctly picking four teams out of the Elite Eight. Rookie Ethan Finlay was the only player to predict more than one Final Four team. The Creighton product correctly chose Kentucky and Kansas to make the trip to New Orleans.
Check back next week to see who takes the crown in the Crew's March Madness bracket challenge.
1. Justin Meram 189 points
2. Ethan Finlay 186
Josh Williams 186
4. Tom Heinemann 183
5. Eric Gehrig 182
6. Cole Grossman 157
Few players have yet to make history against MLS's expansion Montreal Impact. However, Crew striker Tommy Heinemann holds a special memory of playing against the French-Canadian side.
While playing for the Carolina Railhawks in 2010, the St. Louis native sent the then-NASL Impact packing in the semifinals of the USSF Division 2 playoffs with a series-winning strike in the 89th minute of the second leg to put the Railhawks ahead 2-1 on aggregate.
The Crew hopes some of Heinemann's magic can rub off on his teammates as the Crew welcome the Impact to Columbus for First Kick 2012.
Crew rookie Kevan George and the U23 Trinidad & Tobago National Team will kick off CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying against Mexico tonight in Los Angeles. George scored in the Soca Warriors' final preparation match against Clarema United on Sunday. Friday night's match vs. Mexico can be found on Universal Sports Network and streaming online at CONCACAF.com. Kickoff is slated for 11:30PM EST.
The Crew Soccer Academy's Wolves U15/16 squad debuts in the number one spot of ESPN's Development Academy Power Rankings this week. The CSA Wolves are 6-0-1 thus far in the academy season. Ali Jawad leads the U15/16 squad with six goals early on in the season.
CSA joined forces with the Michigan Wolves in May 2011. The club is based out of Livonia, MI.
Check out the full rankings on ESPN.com.
In an effort to spruce up the United States' first Major League Soccer-specific stadium, LED field boards have been installed at Crew Stadium ahead of Saturday's home opener against the Montreal Impact. The boards are just one of many upgrades for the 2012 MLS season.
"I think it's going to be a fantastic addition to the fan experience at Crew Stadium," team president and general manager Mark McCullers said.
The boards will also increase the Crew's sponsorship opportunities in conjunction with the team's new television deal with Fox Sports Ohio.
"With our Fox Sports Ohio deal, it's going to give our sponsors and our corporate partners the best possible platform to deliver their brand message," McCullers continued. "There's a lot of flexibility, it marries well with the increased distribution we have at Fox Sports Ohio and gives the sponsors a great platform."
In addition to the new LED field boards, new menu items can be found at Crew Stadium's concession stands along with updated concourses and plaza experiences.