For the first time this preseason, Homegrown forward Aaron Horton trained with the Black & Gold on Tuesday. Horton spent his offseason traveling the globe between a mission trip in South Africa and trials with FK Sarajevo in Bosnia and Hammarby IF in Sweden.
Training with teams in Europe was a valuable experience for the 20-year-old forward.
"It was awesome just being able to get out and travel around the globe, playing with different clubs in Europe," Horton said. "It was a great experience. I had a lot of fun too. I think I gained experience on all levels."
For Horton, the differences in culture and soccer in Bosnia and Sweden took some getting used to compared the lifestyle he is accustomed to in Columbus.
"It's different.That's the best way I can put it," Horton explained. "Sarajevo was different from Sweden, Sweden is different from here. It's all different. The training was all good, but at the same time, it was very different. The style of play in every single country is different. It was just about adapting to the places I was at and how they play, how things work. All-in-all, it was good."
Upon his arrival back at the Crew's training ground in Obetz on Tuesday, Horton was welcomed with open arms by his teammates as he enters his third season with the Black & Gold.
"I'm happy to see everyone," he said. "Everyone here has welcomed me back warmly. I love these guys, I love my teammates. It was good to be around the coaches again, they were happy to see me back. It's good to be back."
During a busy weekend that consisted of two matches, and travel from Florida to North Carolina and from North Carolina to Columbus, several Crew players took to Twitter to honor their fallen teammate around the inaugural Kirk Urso Memorial Match. Even players who didn't get the chance to play alongside Urso like Dominic Oduro and Drew Beckie showed their respect.
Here are some of the highlights, 140 characters at a time:
— Ethan Finlay (@EthanFinlay13) February 24, 2013
Heading to North Carolina with my brothers to honor a teammate that was taken too soon. #KU15
— Josh Williams (@josh3williams) February 24, 2013
Urso was my roommate in residency, a hard worker, great player, and even better person. Looking forward to playing in his memory #crew96
— Ryan Finley (@Ryan_Finley9) February 24, 2013
— Aaron Schoenfeld (@aaronschoenfeld) February 24, 2013
It's your day bubs. Maybe I can hit a patented Urso bomb. Either way it's an honor 2 play in your memory. Miss u Kirk. Let's have fun 2day.
— Eric Gehrig (@eGehrig16) February 24, 2013
Just know you're not alone @kurso369 . We miss that witty funny humor you always had everyday with that outstanding hair and smile . So glad
— Justin Meram (@JustinMeram) February 24, 2013
I get to play today for you. We all love you and miss you so damn much! #KU15
— Justin Meram (@JustinMeram) February 24, 2013
— Tony Tchani (@TonyTchani23) February 24, 2013
— Dominic Oduro (@Freakyfast8) February 24, 2013
I know I gave up twitter for lent but I think The Lord allows a tweet for Kirk Urso, although I didn't know him, it's an honor to be here
— Drew Beckie (@DrewBeckie) February 24, 2013
Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum stopped to chat with TheCrew.com's Alex Caulfield following Saturday's 1-0 loss to the Montreal Impact.
The year was 2008.
Alejandro Moreno was heading to a team dinner on the eve of another road match. Suddenly, a request.
ESPN, the network broadcasting tomorrow's match, wanted to speak to Mr. Moreno.
Flush with excitement and perhaps a nerve or two--this was ESPN, after all--Moreno strode into the meeting room with the producers and broadcast talent, ready to speak clearly and candidly about the next day's match. He was going to knock this interview out of the park.
That is, until he found out he was only serving as a translater. For his strike partner, Guillermo Barros Schelotto. What a bummer.
Still, Moreno sucked it up and sat in the interview room for nearly two hours, orchestrating a conversation between the two parties. He didn't have to stay, it wasn't his job, but he did it anyway.
Three years later, Moreno's phone is ringing. It's ESPN, and they want to speak with him again. This time, however, it's because they want to offer him a job. Turns out being a good sport and choosing to stay in that interview room was a good call, after all.
Speaking in front of the 2013 version of the Columbus Crew, this was Moreno's lesson. Interviews and media obligations might not always seem like fun, but if you approach each one with a professionalism and a positive attitude, they can pay big dividends in the end, even after you're done playing.
Moreno's insight was just a part of a two-hour discussion on the ins-and-outs of dealing with the media in MLS, led by Dan Courtemanche, Will Kuhns and Gabriel Gabor. The training sessions have been utilized by 12 teams during this preseason as a way to make sure their players are sharp when they step outside the white lines.
For the young players, the information was new, and likely more thorough than they anticipated. For seasoned vets like Danny O'Rourke and Chad Marshall, the session served more as a refresher before the start of the campaign. These guys literally do hundreds of interviews a year, so it's good to be reminded of some key principles:
Mainly, show your personality, never lie, be a good person and stay away from doing things like this:
And of course, don't get yourselves in a situation like this, either:
Back in action after an off day, the Black & Gold took to the training field this morning before doing a youth soccer clinic for the Greater Osceola United Club in Central Florida on Tuesday evening. Below are some shots of the guys helping out the local youth side. Participating players included Ben Speas, Aaron Schoenfeld, Ethan Finlay, Matt Lampson, Eric Gehrig, Justin Meram, Chad Barson and Josh Williams, along with Assistant Coach Duncan Oughton.
Crew midfielder Wil Trapp and the United States begin their 2013 U-20 World Cup Qualifying campaign against Haiti on Monday night in the CONCACAF U-20 Championships in Puebla, Mexico. The Homegrown product from Gahanna, Ohio has been a mainstay in Head Coach Tab Ramos' camp leading up to the tournament, and figures to be an influential figure in the United States' midfield.
The U.S. features in Group A of the 12-team tournament with Haiti and Costa Rica as the top four nations will advance to the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey this summer.
Monday night's match against Haiti can be found on FOX Soccer Channel, and will be shown live at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Ahead of Saturday evening's Disney Pro Soccer Classic clash with USL-Pro side Orlando City (6:00 p.m. ET/Stream), the Black & Gold played a scrimmage on Saturday morning against MLS rival Sporting Kansas City. The technical staff wanted an extra match to get their players additional minutes, and the Crew delivered, downing Sporting by a final score of 5-2. The Black & Gold had five different goal-scorers, with Shawn Sloan, Ethan Finlay, Justin Meram, Konrad Warzycha and Ben Speas all finding the net.
"It was great for everybody. We got our guys more playing time that we were looking for - some guys got 90 minutes and some got 60 - but it was a good exercise," said Crew Assitant Coach Ricardo Iribarren. "It wasn't the start we were looking for, but we found the way we needed to play and got the result. We're happy with everybody and it was a good win."
Full match details are below.
SKC - Dom Dwyer (Soony Saad) 5
CLB -- Shawn Sloan (Danny O'Rourke) 8
CLB -- Ethan Finlay (Aaron Schoenfeld) 46+
CLB -- Justin Meram (unassisted) 59
CLB -- Konrad Warzycha (Kyle Hyland) 64
SKC -- Soony Saad (Kyle Miller)
68 CLB -- Ben Speas (Ethan Finlay) 71
SKC -- Peterson Joseph (caution; tactical foul) 17
CLB -- Danny O'Rourke (caution; reckless foul) 35
CLB -- Eric Gehrig (caution; delaying a restart) 52
Sporting Kansas City: Brian Sylvestre*; Kyle Miller, Ike Opara, Yann Songo'o, Josh Gardner; Michael Thomas (Lawrence Olum 61), Peterson Joseph, Christian Duke*; Adama Mbengue* (Mike Reidy* 59), Dom Dwyer, Soony Saad
Columbus Crew: Samir Badr*; Jordan Gafa*, Eric Gehrig, Drew Beckie, Kyle Hyland*; Ethan Finlay, Danny O'Rourke, Tony Tchani, Justin Meram; Shawn Sloan*, Aaron Schoenfeld
Second Half: Daniel Withrow*; Reed Matte*, Eric Gehrig, Chad Barson, Kyle Hyland*; Ethan Finlay, Kevan George, Konrad Warzycha*, Justin Meram; Ben Speas, Ryan Finley
TheCrew.com caught-up with the Black & Gold's newest signing, rookie Drew Beckie, who officially joined the club's roster on Friday afternoon.
Crew Designated Player Federico Higuain made the media rounds while in New York this week. Here is an interview Pipa did with CNN Español.
“Espero poder quedarme aquí mucho tiempo” - Federico Higuain
Translation: "I hope to be able to stay here for a long time"