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.
Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum continues to garner accolades for the stellar season he is having. Most recently, Gruenebaum was tabbed as the goalkeeper in Soccer America’s Midseason Best XI. According to the famed soccer publication: “The longtime veteran has been peppered with shots…and he’s compiled a 1.06 goals-allowed average and made more saves than any keeper except Matt Pickens of Colorado.”