A WIN WOULD MAKE RARE CREW HISTORY ...
A win on Saturday would make for an odd statistical Crew record not achieved in the club’s first 18 years of existence ... the Black & Gold have never opened the season with back-to-back wins ... opening with consecutive victories may be a rare feat, but opening the season unbeaten after two games is not ... most recently in 2010, the club rattled off an eight-game clip of unbeaten soccer, posting an 6-0-2 run through the third week of May.
... BUT TAKE IT ONE GAME AT A TIME
The Crew opened the Gregg Berhalter era with a victory in Gregg Berhalter’s MLS coaching debut ... the Sporting Director and Head Coach began his MLS coaching career after coaching at Swedish side Hammerby IF ... said Berhalter postgame after his first win, “It was a great way to get started ... the emphasis was on starting and playing our game from minute one. I think we did that ... we went out there and we were brave and wanted to play ... when I look at going on the road and controlling the opponent, I think we did well. We scored two fantastic goals on the road and I’m happy with our overall performance.”
BERHALTER AMONG CREW COACHES WITH WINS IN CLUB DEBUTS
Gregg Berhalter, the seventh Head Coach -- and first Sporting Director -- in club history, led the Black & Gold to a win in his first game on the sidelines ... with the win, the Crew is now 5-1-2 all-time in the historic first match under a new coaching tenure, securing points in all but one debut (Sigi Schmid, 2005).
TOUGH TO BEAT GOOD DEFENSE
The Black & Gold blanked D.C. United, 3-0, in the first regular-season test of 2014 ... the Crew saw Philadelphia in the preseason during the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in a 1-0 win for the Crew on February 22 ... Columbus finished the 2014 preseason with a record of 4-0-1, competing in five matches and taking home a tournament title at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic ... the team’s lone draw came in a wild, back-and-forth 4-4 finish against USL-PRO side Orlando City SC to finish group play before a 4-1 victory over defending MLS Cup Champion Sporting KC on March 1.
Kirk Urso was recently honored with the Illinois Youth Soccer Career Achievement Award along with Birmingham City defender Jonathan Spector. The award was started in 2013 and given to Illinois Youth Soccer alumni who have achieved great success on the soccer field while also making an impact off the field. Kirk and Jonathan join Brian McBride as the only recipients of the award.
"We have known Kirk since he started participating in our Illinois Olympic Development Program (ODP) process," said Mary Jane Bender of the Illinois Youth Soccer Association. "He was not only a talented, hard-working and disciplined soccer player but a very kind and thoughtful person. While Kirk was in residence at the U.S. Training Camp in Bradenton, he welcomed our Illinois ODP team players who came to play his National Team and even joined us for dinner to their great delight. He volunteered in our Illinois Soccer for Success program for at-risk children living in Chicago’s inner city. He participated as a coach-in-training in our Illinois ODP camps and was a role model to the younger players. Kirk always had a smile on his face and is the personification of sportsmanship.
"He made the U.S. soccer community a better place."
Urso was drafted 10th overall in the 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft by the Crew and made 6 appearances in his rookie season before passing away suddenly on August 5, 2012 due to a congenital heart defect.
Wil Trapp was just a high schooler when the Crew claimed its 2008 MLS Cup title anchored in part by Brian Carroll's play in central midfield. While it was Guillermo Barros Schelotto's playmaking magic that caught Trapp's eye at the time, the 21-year-old looks back now at Carroll's presence on the field in admiration as he gets set to face the Black & Gold's former midfield stalwart, now with the Philadelphia Union, for the first time as a pro on Saturday (6:00 p.m. ET / TICKETS).
"I guess I didn't watch him as much as I should've back then, I was more focused on guys like Schelotto," Trapp admitted at the Crew's media day on Thursday. "Now that I look back, I think his leadership qualities and the way he gets the ball, moves it and keeps the tempo and rhythm in the game is huge. He did that for the team that won in 2008.
"I think that's something I can bring to the table, but I can also improve on."
Carroll missed the Union's match against the New England Revolution due to illness; the 32-year-old veteran could be back in Philadelphia's lineup for Saturday's match.
The Crew Soccer Academy's Sean Zawadzki was called-in to U.S. U-14 Boys' National Team camp earlier this week by Head Coach Tony Lepore. The camp will run from March 22-30 in Carson, Calif. While in Florida for the Black & Gold's preseason, Crew legend Frankie Hejduk paid a visit to Zawadski while the youngster was training with the U-14 BNT in Lakewood Ranch.
Good Day Columbus' Dana Turtle paid a visit to Crew Stadium on Tuesday ahead of Opening Match on Saturday.