BACK HOME IN TEST AGAINST TORONTO
The Black & Gold return home for their second home match of 2014 after opening the season with a pair of victories away from Crew Stadium ... the Crew is looking for wins in its first two home matches to open the year for the first time since 2010 when the club went 4-0-0 at Crew Stadium to begin the campaign ... in the three years since, the Crew went 3-0-1, (2011), 1-2-1 (2012) and 1-1-2 (2013) through its first four contests at home.
TIME FOR TRILLIUM CUP
The Crew and Toronto FC battle on Saturday for the first of three meetings in 2014 to decide the Trillium Cup, presented by Scotts ... the Crew has secured the Trillium Cup five times ... 2008 marked the first year the award was up for grabs and the Crew held the trophy from 2008-2010 before a Toronto regular-season series victory gave the Reds the cup for 2011 - Toronto’s only Trillium Cup victory ... the Crew regained the award in 2012 with three victoies over Toronto and retained it in 2013 with a 2-1-0 record against the Reds ... Trillium is the provincial flower of Ontario and the state wildflower of Ohio and Scotts joined as the presenting sponsor of the award ahead of the 2013 series.
PIPA AND THE REDS
Federico Higuain has recorded five goals and two assists in just five meetings with Toronto FC ... he recorded a two-goal performance on August 18, 2013, assisted Dominic Oduro on the game-winning goal on May 18, 2013 and the Crew playmaker recorded a brace in the final meeting between the two teams in 2012 on October 28 ... Pipa has been quite efficient against the Reds, as he’s scored all five goals on just seven shots on goal in 435 minutes.
"I'm just really happy."
In the middle of a chilly April downpour in Central Ohio, that's how Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark says he's adjusting to life in Columbus after spending the last four years playing abroad in Norway. Born and raised in Michigan, Clark is happy to back in the warmth of Midwest hospitality.
"I'm really happy, that's all I can really say," he said with a smile. "I keep saying that because it's the truth. I'm just super happy. It's simple, but it's the truth."
For Clark and his fiancee, Carella, it's the simple things like baseball and American television they enjoy about living life back Stateside.
"We're just kind of still happy to be in the States. It's kind of hard to understand, but when you leave you're just kind of happy here. When you leave the country for four years, you don't take for granted just being here. That may seem strange, but everything is good."
He continued: "Watching the news, or just watching American programs -- I haven't had March Madness in years. I haven't had [Major League Baseball] in four years. Those things are very exciting."
Undefeated and averaging less than one goal against in three matches so far this season, the soccer transition has been positive as well -- but not just for Clark.
Carella played collegiately at Appalachian State University and at Clark's alma mater, Oakland University. Now, she's helping out with coaching on the girls' side of the Crew's youth development system.
"She's coaching, she's trying to talk lineups with me, trying to talk strategy," Clark laughs. "We're a soccer house through and through."
Less than four months after moving to Ohio, it seems the future Clark family has found a home in Columbus.
Crew defender Michael Parkhurst earned his 25th cap for the United States on Wednesday in the United States' 2-2 draw with Mexico at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Parkhurst made his second-straight start at leftback, and played the full 90 minutes in the draw.
The Crew Captain is due back in Columbus ahead of the Black & Gold's Trillum Cup clash with Toronto FC, presented by Scotts, on Saturday.
Crew Soccer Academy midfielders George Braima and Ben Swanson were recently called-up to represent the United States at the U-17 and U-18 levels, respectively.
Braima and the U-17 U.S. Men's National Team head to Bosnia-Herzegovina for the Josip Katalinski International Tournament and two international friendlies in Zagreb, Croatia. In the Katalinski Tournament, the U.S. takes on Montenegro and Sarajevo Select before wrapping up play in the tournament against either the Bosnia U-17 National Team, Belgrade Select or the Macedonia U-17 National Team in a placement match. In Zagreb, the U.S. plays Croatia on April 8 and April 10.
Swanson and the U.S. U-18 squad will stay stateside for a camp that includes a friendly with Canada on April 8 and another against Mexico on April 12. Swanson recently trained with the Crew First Team following the Copa del Atlantico in the Canary Islands.
Following Saturday's dramatic 2-1 victory in Seattle, the Crew is at the top of ESPNFC and Sports Illustrated's Planet Fútbol Power Rankings this week. On MLSsoccer.com's list, Gregg Berhalter's side is in the number two spot just behind FC Dallas. Through three matches this season, the Black & Gold are the only club with a perfect record in MLS.
See the full rankings below.
MLSsoccer.com: 2 (4)
ESPNFC: 1 (7)
SI's Planet Fútbol: 1 (10)
For the second time already this season, Crew forward Federico Higuaín has been named to MLSsoccer.com's Team of the Week following his goal and assist in the Black & Gold's 2-1 win over Seattle Sounders FC over the weekend. Higuaín has already compiled three goals and two assists this season to lead the Black & Gold in scoring.
Goalkeeper Steve Clark was named Honorable Mention for his five saves against Seattle.