Sirk’s Notebook: Oughton’s IntroDunctions - 2011

Kiwi reprises annual tradition with a roast of the new guys

At long last, the time has come for the 2011 edition of Oughton’s IntroDunctions, whereby Duncan Oughton shares all that he has learned about this year’s Crew newcomers. This is the sixth annual edition of this utterly preposterous Crew tradition. Each year, Duncan closely observes all of the Crew’s newcomers, be they reserve players or international superstars, and then shares his completely unexaggerated findings with the fans.

This tradition started in 2006 when the Crew underwent an extensive makeover that saw a good portion of the roster turn over. I missed the first half of the season to care for my mother in her final months, and when I came back, I didn’t have the slightest clue who was who on the Crew. So I enlisted the help of Duncan, who quickly informed me, for example, that Andy Gruenebaum was a goalkeeper making a handsome profit from renting his personal DVDs under the guise of a shady business called Rabbi Rentals.

I found that Dunc’s descriptively detailed and factually flawless reports were incredibly helpful to Crew fans as we all attempted to bond with the newcomers, so Oughton’s IntroDunctions became an annual service that the Kiwi has been happy to provide. In 2007, we learned that Guillermo Barros Schelotto only ate food in burrito form, and that Danny “Meathead” O’Rourke forcefully signed autographs for people who didn’t know who he was. In 2008, Duncan revealed that Emmanuel Ekpo was so bewildered by the concept of ownerless Canada geese that he was going to corral them all and start his very own goose farm. In 2009, we learned that Eric Brunner locked up the title as The World’s Most Annoying Man, and in 2010, we were informed that in between bicep curls and Jersey Shore episodes, Dilly Duka ran an Albanian taxi cab service to and from Obetz for the other young players.

Over the course of the 2011 season, we’ve seen Justin Meram and Rich Balchan combine on a dramatic goal at New York, Bernardo Anor put his stamp on a historic win at Houston, and Julius James maintain a friendly smile while trading elbows with Steven Lenhart. We’ve observed Sebastian Miranda’s steady play, Tom Heinemann’s tireless work rate, and Josh Gardner’s recording breaking goal/own-goal combo. We’ve all gawked at Eric Gehrig’s hair. And these events barely scratch the surface when it comes to this year’s incoming crop. We’ve seen a lot from our newcomers ON the field, but with Oughton’s IntroDunctions, we can finally learn more about what our newcomers are like OFF the field. With this 100 percent accurate information, we can become even closer to our new players on a personal level and officially welcome them into their place in our Massive history. It is a rite of passage that every new Crew player since 2006 has endured. Only Chad Marshall pre-dates its existence.

After a few lean years, the 2011 edition of Oughton’s IntroDunctions gets its very own Notebook this time around on account of all the new faces. On Sept. 16, Duncan and I sat down for an hour-long conversation over coffee and mint-chocolate flavored water. (“I intro-Dunc-ed you to a new and delicious flavor of water,” he said.) There was an awful lot of ground to cover.

“It’s a big class,” Duncan said. “It’s a big group that has come in.”

This year marks the first year that Duncan is not officially a teammate of the players he is intro-Dunc-ing.

“I’m one of their peers, but I’m also not one of their peers because I have gone to the dark side, which is the coaching staff,” Duncan said. “I’ve joined the Voldemort crowd in the Harry Potter wizarding world. [More on this in the Cole Grossman section.] I had to be a little tamed back this year. Was any of this really tamed back? Anyway, I hope nobody takes offense to these. They are all just fun and games.”

While I suppose it’s true that the players can no longer crunch Duncan at practice in retaliation like they could when he was their teammate, surely they can “accidentally” kick soccer balls at him when he’s not paying attention. I assume this happens most days anyway, but anyone who’s aggrieved can always kick the balls harder than normal.

Two disclaimers:

1. I am not going to bother to put quotes around Duncan’s introDunctions. Any comments, explanations or interjections on my part will be in brackets. Otherwise, all comments about each player are Duncan’s.

2. As always with Oughton’s IntroDunctions, the views and opinions are those of Duncan Oughton, and may not necessarily conform to those of the players, coaches and staff of the Columbus Crew, or any reasonable sense of objective reality.

With that out of the way, let’s start learning!

******

#7 BERNARDO ANOR

Bernardo is a Venezuelan who loves to work out and loves to look all buff, but a cool breeze can injure the man. He’s been injured playing soccer tennis, and he’s been injured by a sniper in the woods that took him out and caused him to roll an ankle when nobody was around. For all the working out, those show-muscles aren’t panning out. But he has a lovely smile and he’s a really nice guy. I don’t say that about too many Venezuelans. *cough*cough* Alejandro Moreno… *cough*cough* Emilio Renteria*cough*cough*.

#2 RICH BALCHAN

Well…

(long pause)

Does that sum him up?

No, Rich is a lovely guy. He’s a lovely guy, but as you talk to him, you realize that Indiana University must have been giving degrees away in cereal boxes. I’m not even sure if he has a degree. And if he does, I’m not sure what it was in. Perhaps it was in anti-communications. I’ve had some terrific conversations with the kid, but then I’ve had conversations where it’s like talking to a brick wall. I think Danny O’Rourke got all the brains from IU, Ned Grabavoy got all the wit, and then Rich Balchan…well…

Rich is an interesting character, and he’s as fast as lightning. He’s like the white Stephen Herdsman. That’s what he should be called— The White Herds. He’s got pace to burn and injuries to match.

[NOTE: Stephen Herdsman may very well have been neck and neck with Brian West as the fastest player in Crew history, but due to injuries, he only played 15 games in his two Crew seasons. Balchan has already played 19 games in his rookie year alone. As an interesting “where are they now?” aside, Herdsman now coaches with the Grand Rapids Crew Juniors.]

#31 JOSH GARDNER

Josh Gardner came into the team with a certain Tom Heinemann from the Carolina RailHawks. And along with them came a little prize named Marco Rosa. [Rosa is the Crew’s communications manager.] They’re the new kumbaya group. They sit around with Tom Heinemann strumming his guitar, Josh Gardner singing a little bit and telling tales of himself and how great his greatness of his previous experiences is, and then Marco Rosa just loving every second of it, just being in the presence of both of them.

Josh has probably done the equal most appearances on the team, tied with Tom Heinemann, because Marco puts out the appearances. Josh has probably made more in appearance money than he has on his salary this season, thanks to Marco, who must be getting a cut of that.

We should just do Heinemann and Gardner together. It should just be joint.

[We immediately skip ahead to Heinemann .]

#32 TOMMY HEINEMANN

Tommy is the Geico commercial caveman/Timber Jim wannabe. If soccer doesn’t work out for the guy, I think we’ll see him in Portland sawing a piece of wood every time the Timbers score a goal. I think he’s just waiting for the Timbers to get really good so he can go out there and really get the chainsaw cranking.

Outside of work, Tommy likes to play solo acoustic guitar, singing songs of the RailHawks and Josh Gardner and Marco Rosa… to a crowd of two. But sometimes Josh leaves Marco in the audience and comes on stage to sing songs of his time with the RailHawks, which was glorious. Josh also sings about being the fastest guy on the team, except for everyone. He said he was the fastest white guy on the team, but then he forgot about Robbie Rogers… and Rich Balchan… and Chad Marshall… and Shaun Fran—oh wait, he’s not white. But you get the idea.

If I had to pick a favorite Tom Heinemann tune, it would be difficult because I’ve only heard one or two. I would say it’s either “RailHawks For Life” or “I Love Josh and Marco.” Those are the only two that I’ve heard. I haven’t picked a favorite yet. I’m hoping maybe to hear a new song in a different genre.

[I noted that Tommy is close with Andy Gruenebaum, so I wondered if there was also a Gbaum-themed song that Duncan hadn’t heard yet.]

I don’t think Gbaum has deserved a song yet, and I think we all know why. I don’t think we need to get into that. He probably owes Tommy money.

#16 ERIC GEHRIG

Oh wow. Eric Gehrig. He comes in with numerous nicknames, but I think I will just refer to him as the new Simon Elliott, due to his haircut. Horrible. Just horrible. No offense, Simon. I’m sorry about that, Simon. I shouldn’t lower your haircut to Eric Gehrig standards.

Eric apparently wore the number 10 in college, and he was a “spielmarker.” That’s what he referred to himself as. He’s of German descent, but he’s only been to Germany four times. He was born in America, but claims Germany, loves Germany… and yet I think I’ve been to Germany more than he has. So that’s interesting.

But yeah, he refers to himself as a “spielmarker” from college, but obviously, coming here, we haven’t seen that side of him. We’ve seen the touch tackle. But he’s a lovely man and he’d do anything for his friends, such as when he sees you, kissing you on the neck. It was slightly uncomfortable, but I guess I’m one of his friends. I’m trying to get out of that inner circle. It’s like a hug and a kiss on the neck. I’m not going to demonstrate it here, Sirk. We’re in a public place.

[I mention that Eric is a Chicago Bears fan.]

Is he from Chicago? I just know about Germany. But yeah, he loves the Bears. He’s one of those cats that talks about Chicago every second until Germany is mentioned, and then it’s all about Germany and Chicago is long gone. But then if Chicago comes back up, he’s a Chicago fan.  

But he’s a nice kid. I don’t want to say too much nice stuff about him, though, because his hair might grow even worse and he might try to kiss me twice like a French German.

#19 COLE GROSSMAN

[From Duke!]

I think you’ve said it all right there, Sirk. Cole is from Duke. He thinks he’s better than Wake Forest. He thinks he’s better than Harvard. He thinks he’s better than Stanford. He even thinks he’s better than Cal State Fullerton, which… you have got to be kidding me.

Chad Marshall has often said that two quarters at Stanford is better than a degree from Cal State Fullerton, but I think Cole would do it one better and say that one visit to one class at Duke is better than a degree from Cal State Fullerton.

But yeah, Cole went to Duke, where I think he studied the art of wizardry. He’s a huge Harry Potter buff. He’s been seen wearing proper outfits. He’s got a mini broom, which he sometimes flies to training on. That’s true. He does have a little broom. It may have been gifted to him. But he does refer to himself as the boy that you cannot kill, or whatever that thing is. I think the next step for him, and I’m surprised he hasn’t done it yet late night, is getting a tattoo of a lightning scar on his head.

He got his hair cut about a month ago and was disappointed because he didn’t look as Potter-like as he did when he had his hair. But he is deep into the world of wizardry. He has been seen at a dress-up party in full Potter get-up. Cole is an interesting, interesting character. From the movie Harry Potter.

You will have to ask him about this, but I think he has given everyone on the team a name from Harry Potter. I’m not sure what I am. I think he may have called me Snape or something? Snape? Is that it? I think it’s because I have gone to the dark side, which is the coaching staff, but I’m still on the good side, which is the players. So I’m assuming that may make sense to people who are into Harry Potter. So yeah, that’s Cole.

#27 AARON HORTON

Aaron Horton is an Olentangy Orange product who left college early. Whoops. No, but he came home and I think he had a little stage where he loved his home cooking a little too much. After being in college and not eating for a year, he came home and ate a year’s worth in a month. He had to cut that out, and now he’s getting into form and Crew fans might see him in black and gold for a game beyond his brief cameo he made when he first got here.

Aaron smiles a lot, and he’s a good kid. I think he’s still trying to find his way in the professional areas of life. He’s still feeling his way. He’s the baby of the group. He and Korey Veeder. They’re still on the nipple, if you will, sucking on the teats of the older gentlemen.

Aaron grew up as a Crew fan. I’m sure watching me play was a fond memory of his. But Aaron did a have a Bring Your Pet to School Day, and his pet was Jeff Cunningham. Or something like that. He took something to school, and his something was Jeff Cunningham. Now Jeff’s his mentor, so hopefully Jeff keeps him tightly under his wing and teaches him a thing or two and then Aaron can get to 135 goals and pass the suddenly famous Jeff Cunningham.

#33 JEFF CUNNINGHAM

[Jeff obviously spent the first seven years of his career, from 1998-2004, with the Crew. But since he has now returned home to break the league’s all-time goal scoring record after six years in the MLS wilderness, I thought it might be fun for a brief re-introDunction for those fans who weren’t around when Jeff first made a name for himself in Columbus.]

Jeff is a traveling man. He started out for a long time in Columbus and then took a tour of the U.S. and Canada, with various stops of port along the way. There was a Colorado, a Salt Lake, a…. some place up north, whatever that was… and a nice stay in Dallas. And then we got the golden goal boy back. It was beautiful to see him get goal number 134. I think I had a tear in my eye.

It’s a different dynamic now. I used to fight him at practice, and we’d get into our little battles where I would kick him, and then he would try to kick me and hurt himself. Now it’s ‘Hey Jeff’ and ‘Hey Duncan.’ Now it’s all smiles and there’s no chance to kick each other. Now that we can’t kick each other, it’s the old Jeff and Duncan from off the field. Now it’s all pleasantries. It’s lovely.

Jeff is the grandpa of the team now. Sorry, Jeff, for saying that. He’s the mentor. He’s the old guy. Maybe he’s providing the previously mentioned teat for Korey Veeder and Aaron Horton.

Jeff’s a dad now…. to three. He’s got his daughter, plus his two Obetz adoptees.

#26 JULIUS JAMES

[NOTE: Two other Trinidad & Tobago players are referenced in this section. First is Travis Mulraine, who injured Oughton in a preseason match during Duncan’s rookie year. The very first time I interviewed Duncan, he spoke of giving Mulraine a swift kick when the Crew faced him in the regular season. When I told him that Mulraine had been released, Dunc replied, “In that case, I will have to go down to Trini and beat him with a stick.” Yes, that was my very first conversation with Duncan Oughton. The other Trini is everybody’s favorite cackling gap-toothed goofball, Ansil Elcock. The running joke with Ansil was that he would leave for the T&T national team, then fail to come back in a timely manner due to trumped up “visa problems” that would enable him to attend Carnival. With those back stories out of the way, let’s meet Julius James…]

My history with Trinis started a long time ago with Travis Mulraine. Julius—if you see Travis Mulraine, kick him, please.

Julius is a typical Trini. You can’t understand a word he says, unless he wants to be understood, and then you understand every word. Julius loves to hear his own voice, which is good because I think he’s the only one who understands himself. I think maybe Jeff Cunningham understands him sometimes.

Julius has been a revelation for this team. First and foremost, he has talked a lot. He has also talked some more. He has done a great job on the field. Then he has talked even more.

He was going to take me to a Caribbean food place, which I was all excited about, but it must have been so good that it was shut down three days after he told me about it. We never got to go there. His word may not be very trustworthy about food that is good for eating.

He’s got a big smile and the guys refer to him as the Old Spice guy. In his spare time, he does his TV commercials and various other appearances using Old Spice. It’s a lovely supplemental income.

We haven’t seen that Carnival problem yet with Julius. I think that will happen next preseason, if we are going to see that issue. We missed it this year, fortunately. He probably did it in D.C. Maybe that’s why they let him go to us. He’s a great player, so that’s the only possible reason. Now that he’s established himself here, I’m sure he will talk himself into going to Carnival next year.   

#10 ANDRES MENDOZA

[Mendoza joined the Crew late last year, and therefore was never officially intro-Dunc-ed…until now.]

Ol’ Mendo. What can you say about him? He wants to be called Condor but they call him Panther? Or is that he wants to be called Panther but he’s called Condor? No, I’m pretty sure we call him Panther because the first time he came on the field, there was a thing like, ‘El Pantera! [Duncan makes hideous wildcat noises]!’ … and I’d never heard of anyone having their own noise before. That was extremely horrible. This isn’t your fault, Andres. Whoever did that, and I’m guessing it was you Francisco, that was terrible. [Francisco Terreros is the Crew’s Director of Hispanic Business Development.]

So I think he likes to be called Pantera, but his national team calls him Condor. So he’s like Kenny Powers on “Eastbound and Down.” He wants to be called something, but everyone calls him something else. We can’t mention those Kenny Powers names on the Crew website.

Andres is funny because he understands everything that everyone says in English, but he won’t speak English unless he has to. He has a guy that follows him around and translates for him. We’ll just call him his right hand man. There’s another guy in the locker room who’s looking for a right hand man, right Rusty?  Ooh, make sure you put that one on there. Sorry Rusty!

[When told of this comment, Crew equipment manager Rusty Wummel gave his blessing and said it was pretty funny, then assured me that his private revenge would be forthcoming.]

The right hand man is a weird concept. Could you imagine going on a date with a right hand man? Let’s say you went to dinner. You would talk to the dude and the dude would talk to the woman and the woman would talk to the dude and the dude would talk to you… but then the woman would hook up with you. It would be really weird because he would have talked to her all night, but then she’d be hooking up with you, not him. I guess that’s why he’s a right hand man.

But back to Andres. He’s obviously been scoring goals. He’s got some interesting celebrations that he’s come up with there. There’s thumb sucking, baby carrying, dusting off his name on the back of his jersey…he’s got all sorts of good stuff. Hopefully we see a lot more of those.

Now he’s starting to joke around a lot more in the locker room. The other day there was a TV thing going on outside and pretty much everyone had left. He was standing there in a towel, so I said, “TV outside! Naked!’ He dropped his towel and ran outside and then ran back in! So his humor is starting to come out now.

#9 JUSTIN MERAM

Justin Meram came on the radio show and I had been hearing so much about this mating call that he does. It’s not actually a mating call. That’s what I called it. It sounds like it would attract hyenas in the desert or something. But he has this noise that he makes. It’s incredible. Sometimes you’ll hear his nickname ring out across the training ground, and then what you hear back is his mating cry.

Justin is from Michigan, so he wears the blue and gold of Michigan quite religiously around training at Obetz. Obviously, Danny O’Rourke, being a local boy, doesn’t like that too much. I’m surprised that outfit hasn’t been burned yet. But Tucker Walther is a happy man. He’s all smiles because he loves the blue and gold himself. So we won’t hold that Michigan thing against Justin because Tucker is a great guy. Justin… he’s still to be determined.

Justin has terrific foot skills, but I haven’t quite worked out what’s upstairs to match the foot skills.

#21 SEBASTIAN MIRANDA

[NOTE: Before we start with Miranda, I should mention that throughout the last few years, via the IntroDunctions, Oughton has shared with us his ongoing concerns about an alleged South American mob syndicate run by Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Gino Padula, who use young players as mules to carry out their nefarious, yet unspecified, criminal activities. This will be referenced a few times in the remainder of the 2011 version, so I just wanted to remind readers of this ongoing storyline.]

Sebastian is the Spanish father of the team because he is from south of the border. I always refer to him as Mexican even though he is from Chile. He doesn’t like me getting his country wrong one bit, but Mexican is easier to remember.

He’s a family man and he’s a great guy. He’s so nervous about his English speaking. I used to try to get him on the radio show, and he’d say “No, no, no. My English. My English.” I kept asking, and then finally he said, “OK, for a little bit.” So I planned to have him on for a three or four minute segment just to let the fans hear him… and then I couldn’t get him off the damn radio! He just kept talking and talking and talking. After we were done, he says, “Yeah, I come on again!” So I think you might soon find that I’ve been kicked off and that Sebastian Miranda is co-hosting Inside the Crew.

He’s been a steady regular with the first team, and like I said, he’s the Spanish father. He’s possibly the Spanish Godfather to the likes of Emilio Renteria, Condor Panther or whatever, Bernardo Anor, and Santiago Prim. He’s the Godfather, if you will, of that group. I think he has taken over for Gino and Guille when it comes to their mob operation. He’s the brains of that operation now. Gino and Guille moved up and started a “business project,” and now Sebastian uses the young guys as mules. So Sebastian has filled in that spot in the chain. They are the Godfathers, and he is the under-Godfather. What would you call the under-the-Godfather person? The assistant to the Godfather? Kind of like me as the assistant to the Technical Director?

#28 SANTIAGO PRIM

He’s the newest of the mules. His English is perfect, which is strange, because the other Argentineans that I have dealt with, that was not the case when they got here. He’s a terrific young man with loads of flair. It’s funny because at first he tried to make out like he didn’t speak English very well, but then one day Josh Williams told a joke and Santiago reamed him, telling him he was an idiot. It was pretty funny, but he blew his cover.

He’s got his jokes down and he likes to make fun of people. He makes fun of Ben Sippola. And he and Josh Williams like to jaw back and forth, which is dangerous. I’m waiting for something to explode there. Some say Josh’s problem came from a vitamin store, but I think it was from the South American cartel.

I see a bright future for Prim in the South American cartel because he is Argentinean just like the original Godfathers. I think he’s gunning for Sebastian. Poor Sebastian Miranda doesn’t realize what he’s gotten himself into. I think that’s why Sebastian Rozental left, originally. The Argentineans moved in.

I think Sebastian Rozental started the whole thing, and then he moved out of his house and Guillermo moved in. Same house. And now that Guille moved out, Sebastian Miranda lives there. The exact same house. So now I’m just waiting for Santiago Prim to move into that house. That’s how you’ll know it went down.

[I had no idea that the same house has been passed down.]

I’m dead serious. Rozental, Schelotto, and now Miranda. This is a legitimate operation going on here. They’re not smuggling Vegemite, I’ll tell you that much. I’ve asked if they could, but they said no.

[This house thing really bolsters your claim about the South American mob syndicate.]

Rozental still owns the house, so I think he may be the king of the Godfathers. Now that I think about it, maybe I was wrong. Maybe this is all based out of Chile. Maybe that’s why Guillermo and Gino got the boot. Sebby wanted another Chilean to take over the operation. Enter Sebastian Miranda. I think I’m on to something here, Sirk. I need to go undercover.

#25 ALEX RIGGS

Let’s just start by saying that Mr. Riggs thinks that he should be in Vogue magazine. He’s got that model strut—shoulders up, chest out. Having said that, he’s got the huge upper body for Vogue, but it would have to be all upper body shots because he’s got little legs.

[Like former Crew goalkeeper Noah Palmer?]

Oh, nothing like Noah Palmer. He had one-foot legs and a six-foot torso. Alex’s legs are a lot longer than Noah’s, but he’s still not proportional.

Riggsy’s from Missouri State University, which means he is corn-fed. Boy is he corn-fed. He’s a big boy. He’s a true redneck, but he’s got the modeling aspect as well. It’s like split personality. He’s one of those guys where his talent was found in the corn fields. He came in with a big dip in his lip, a straw hanging out of his mouth, driving a pickup truck with hay bales in the back, and then started dancing on the bed of his truck in his cowboy boots, and that’s how he got discovered. He’s adapted to the ways of the city pretty quick and has now turned to the modeling side. Now he struts around the streets of Columbus waiting for one of the Abercrombie & Fitch spotters to reel him in for a catalog shoot.

We haven’t seen much of Mr. Riggs on the field. He’s pulled some rather curious injuries, such as getting jumped while getting out of his car. He got out of his car and someone clocked him on the side of his head. Someone whacked him one, maybe trying to steal his car or something, but he’s a silly guy to mess with. He’s a big lad. I think the person realized that when they whacked him in the back of the head and it didn’t fell the big fella, that they were barking up the wrong tree and off they ran. Maybe he tried to steal somebody’s modeling gig, so they tried to jump him and slap him with their handbag. I’m not sure.

And to the women of Columbus, I say watch out ladies. Don’t let his modeling good looks fool you. He’s straight.

#22 DEJAN RUSMIR

[NOTE: Duncan’s international conspiracies apparently also apply to Eastern Europe, as we will soon find that he has Dejan and Russian goalkeeper coach Vadim Kirillov involved in who knows what.]

So Dejan Rusmir drives up in a Caravan and calls everyone “gypsy,” but he’s the one in a Caravan. Figure that out. I’m pretty sure that Dejan is a gypsy. I think he keeps a knife in his sock so that he can shank someone, so I just want to say, “Watch out David Beckham! If he’s on the field, he knows you’ve got a big wallet!” Maybe that’s what he’s waiting for. Never trust a gypsy.

[Note: Beckham flew back to Los Angeles from Columbus the day before the Galaxy played the Crew. Despite all those speculative #BecksReturnedToLABecause tweets, the truth is obviously that he heeded Duncan’s warning.]
 
Dejan has a family that finally got here four months after he did. That was very good for him. It was also a relief for me, because I wasn’t sure if it was just a front. He’s Serbian, so I think he might be a front for something involving Vadim. I think because of his soccer abilities, Dejan may have been placed here as some sort of witness protection program, and he’s been placed here under the watchful eye of Vadim Kirillov, who we all know has a shady past. Vadim got his own start in the witness protection program as a member of the Muppet Show, but his voice got too famous as Kermit the Frog, so they had to move him into soccer coaching, which allows you to go rather unnoticed if you are a goalie coach in Columbus, Ohio. So I think they tried that with the Serbian. Who’s going to notice a Serbian midfielder living in Columbus, Ohio? I’m not sure why Dejan would be in the witness protection program. We’ll just let the readers each make something up for themselves. I think he may have in fact shanked someone during a soccer match in Serbia while trying to take their wallet.

#24 BEN SIPPOLA

Little Ben. He’s probably going to battle Jeff Matteo for the title of littlest man with the biggest calves in Crew history. If they do film another Hobbit or Lord of the Rings in my hometown, I will be recommending his name. He’s the right height for it. Just glue some fur on the top of his feet and he’s ready to rock. He’s got big calves like a little hobbit and fat feet like a little hobbit. He’s good to go.  

Ben is quite a random guy. You think he’s all nice and pleasant, but then one day he’ll tell you to shut the (bleep) up. And you’re just like, “What?!? Where did that come from?!?” He’s a random, but funny, guy.

He’s also gone under the wing of Jeff Cunningham. He’s served 4,000 crosses after training in a month period for Jeff Cunningham to finish from the six. Thanks to Jeff, the poor kid is after training for four hours chipping balls to the six. I think maybe that’s why his calves are so big. So he does all that crossing, but during training, he gets a chance to cross and he chips it right to the goalkeeper at the six because he’s used to chipping balls to Jeff at the six. Good work, though, Ben. You helped Jeff set the record. Jeff scored his 133rd on a header from the six. We’ll give you an assist for that, little buddy.

#6 TONY TCHANI

Good question. Who?

He walked into the locker room. Then he walked out. I’ve only seen him a few times since. I think he’s been spending his time over at the Orthopedic Center of Excellence with Dr. Edwards and the rehab staff. Tony may have to be an introDunction for the future. All I know of him is that he smiles a lot, loves to laugh, and wears big watches.

[I noted that Tony’s one of several younger Crew players active on Twitter.]

Really? Oh my god, I didn’t even get into that. I’m not on Twitter, so I don’t know all of it, but come on. Eric Gehrig? “I’m eating.” Or “I’m going to ride on an airplane.” Oh really? That’s good stuff. Everybody was dying to know. So that’s Eric Gehrig on Twitter.

#23 KOREY VEEDER

Korey is one of the young guys sucking on the proverbial teat. He came in, then left for the under-20s. Supposedly. I didn’t see him over there. Maybe he really is under the Jeff Cunningham wing and is now being called into elusive national team camps. Come to think of it, I didn’t even know there WAS an under-20s!

He’s a good, young kid. He’s shy, but watch out for him. He’s not too outspoken, but once the ice is broken, he’s not afraid to have his say. I don’t want to get into too much depth on that one, but he’s a cheeky little bugger. He’s not afraid to have a wisecrack every now and again, and I respect that.

He’s a tough one to nail down. Out of all the ones, he’s the toughest one. He seems like a nice man, but I don’t know if I would turn my back on him just yet. He’s off to the beat of his own drummer. I might try to mold him and shape him. Poor kid. He’s shy, but not innocent. That’s the key. Keep an eye on him.

#3 JOSH WILLIAMS

[Like Mendoza, Josh Williams joined the Crew late in the 2010 season, after the IntroDunctions had already taken place. So this is his formal IntroDunction.]

Josh was up for the Most Eligible Bachelor in Columbus award. He’s quite suave. Josh might need to watch out for Alex Riggs, who might be knocking on the door to take away that eligible bachelorhood title. Josh did a little bachelor competition. They didn’t really pick a winner, which was strange to me. He strutted his stuff on a catwalk and waved at people. Women, mostly. He smiled for the camera and did a couple of magazine shoots.

It wasn’t just the bachelor contest that kicked off Josh’s keen body image. Josh is trying to be a meathead so that he can be in LeBron’s inner circle. I think he wants to be a bouncer or some member of his entourage, so he’s been doing a lot of one-armed pushups. He’s even tried the one-finger pushups, but he hasn’t gotten it yet. He falls flat on his face.

With Josh being from Akron, LeBron is like… the King of Akron? The King of Used-To-Be-From-Akron? He’s in Miami now, but Josh still follows him. He would go there in a heartbeat if he gets the call-up to be in the inner circle of LeBron.

J-Will, as some people call him, struts around wearing Robbie Rogers’ fashions. You’re from Akron, Josh. You’re straight up from Akron. Who dresses like Robbie Rogers when you’re from Akron? He’s a really nice guy, but he’s from Akron, you know? He should just wear… Wranglers… a plaid shirt…wear crocs… or whatever styles they wear in Akron. I’m not sure of the styles there, but I’m sure they don’t dress like Robbie Rogers. At the end of the day, Josh is a nice guy. From Akron.

[So even though LeBron is viewed as a spineless, traitorous villain by most of Northeast Ohio, Josh has stuck with him?]

When LeBron’s heart left Akron, so did J-Will’s. His heart is now in Miami. J-Will hasn’t gotten to his groupie stage yet in the inner circle, where he can sit there in Miami with LeBron, boozing, staring into LeBron’s eyes… but he’s working hard to get there. His time will come. He’s working out and he’s dressing more and more like Robbie Rogers every day.

[Well, sometimes LeBron has that Robbie Rogers sweater-and-tie look going.]

Maybe that’s what it is! Maybe it’s a LeBron thing! You’ve hit the nail on the head, Sirk! For the first time in your life, you’ve gotten something right! It’s not Robbie Rogers! He’s trying to look like LeBron!

[Who sometimes dresses like Robbie Rogers.]

Wait, so you’re trying to tell me that LeBron tries to dress like Robbie Rogers? You’ve completely missed the nail that time. You’ve just gone and undone the one good point that you’ve ever made. I thought we were trying to have an intelligent conversation here. I’m done talking with you.  

Questions? Comments? Your BS detector overheat to the point of melting? Feel free to write at sirk65@yahoo.com or via twitter @stevesirk