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.
We should all take a moment today to thank the soccer lords for social media.
How else could a membership manager at Perth Glory Football Club in West Leederville, Australia connect with Columbus Crew fans in Columbus, Ohio?
It all started on August 1, when Chris Edwards individually tweeted all 19 MLS Clubs, asking why he should support each one. A few short days later, the Crew faithful had convinced Chris that he needed to be Columbus ‘Til I Die. In his words, the fans had been brilliant in communicating and engaging with him, which is one of the reasons why he was interested in supporting the club. But for Chris, being able to support the club didn’t just mean being a fan from afar. He wanted to make an impact all the way from Australia, but wasn’t exactly certain how to do so. That was how he and I became connected; one of our season ticket holders recommended he speak to me about some ideas, and we started exchanging (lengthy) emails.
We started to discuss the similarities in the two front offices—Perth Glory plays in the Hyundai A-League, which is incredibly similar in structure to Major League Soccer. Both our clubs played their first season in their respective leagues in 1996. Until Crew Stadium was built in 1999, we started our first few seasons playing out of Ohio Stadium (built for football). Perth has been playing in stadiums structured for cricket or Australian-Rules football as they wait on construction to begin for their updated venue. Michael Garcia and Bobby Despotovski, both former players, work with the club in their front office, just as we’re lucky to have Frankie Hejduk and Duncan Oughton working with ours.
Perth refers to their season ticket holders as “members” of the club, and as a membership manager, Chris works on building their season ticket base. I shared with him the details on Goal 10k and the importance it holds for our club as we get closer and closer to 10,000 season ticket holders. Perth, too, is seeking to reach new membership numbers this season, so we had much to share with each other.
As our conversation turned to talking about the benefits of young players being able to see the game live, it became evident how Chris wanted to support the team. In order to both contribute to Goal 10k and help our local youths, Chris purchased four full season tickets and donated them to Kicks For Kids, a program of the Crew Soccer Foundation. Through Chris’s donation, 72 kids will have the opportunity to see the highest level of the world’s beautiful game live in 2013.
Crew Soccer Nation, please be sure to welcome our new MASSIVE member, Chris Edwards to our family. From the other side of the world, Chris will be touching the lives of our youth right here in Columbus Ohio.
If anyone wants to connect with Chris Edwards…
Perth Glory FC
Written by Crew Season Ticket Account Executive: Melanie Seiser
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.
The Urso family has decided to have Kirk’s legacy live on off the field, by giving the gift of tissue. Columbus Crew sponsor Lifeline of Ohio, the local nonprofit that promotes and coordinates organ and tissue donation, is giving fans an opportunity to honor Kirk's gift at upcoming games.
Statement from Lifeline of Ohio:
Kirk Urso was truly a hero on and off the field. He not only touched lives as a member of the Columbus Crew, but he will continue to impact others through his gift of tissue donation. Help us honor Kirk's legacy as a tissue donor by wearing a green Donate Life bracelet. Stop by the Donate Life booth before any Columbus Crew home game to pick up your free bracelet and honor our hero, Kirk Urso.
Stop by the Donate Life booth on the Crew Kicker Plaza before the game on Wednesday to pick up one of 4,000 green Donate Life bracelets to support Kirk's gift of life.
To learn more about organ and tissue donation, or to register as a donor, visit: www.lifelineofohio.org/crew
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.