Crew wraps up Carolina Challenge Cup Saturday with regular season looming

Black & Gold returns to Columbus Sunday for final week of preparation before First Kick

The Columbus Crew will wrap up its preseason match schedule this Saturday, March 3, when it faces D.C. United in the final contest of the Carolina Challenge Cup at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C. The game will kick off at 5 p.m. and will be streamed live on www.thecrew.com <http://www.thecrew.com> .
 
The Crew opened its preseason slate with a 2-1 setback vs. Malmö FF of Sweden on Feb. 8, in Bradenton, Fla., followed by a pair of wins over the U.S. U17 Men’s National Team on Feb. 11. The Black & Gold capped its Florida phase with a 2-0 loss at the hands of the Seattle Sounders on Feb. 15.
 
After returning to Ohio for a few days of training at Crew Stadium, the team traveled to Charleston for the Carolina Challenge Cup, a four-team round-robin tournament. The Black & Gold opened the tournament with a 2-2 draw with the host Charleston Battery of the USL Pro League on Feb. 25, then suffered a 1-0 setback at the hands of the Chicago Fire on Wednesday (Feb. 29). The Crew played a friendly match against the College of Charleston in between the two matches, defeating the Cougars 2-0 on Monday (Feb. 27).
 
The Black & Gold will return to Columbus on Sunday, March 4, for a final week of preparation before opening the 2012 MLS season in Colorado on Saturday, March 10. That match will be televised live on FOX Sports Ohio, the Crew’s new regional broadcast partner, with Dwight Burgess and Duncan Oughton on the call.
 
CREW ADDS EXHIBITION MATCHES DURING BYE WEEK
The Crew has added three friendly matches during its bye week between the season opener on March 10 and First Kick 2012 on March 24. On Monday, March 12, the Black & Gold will host the University of Notre Dame at Crew Stadium at 11 a.m. Then on Saturday, March 17, the Crew will host a doubleheader against Michigan State and West Virginia University at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., also at Crew Stadium. All three are free and open to the public.
 
DILLY DUKA RETURNS FROM U-23 NATIONAL TEAM DUTY
Crew midfielder Dilly Duka returned from U.S. Under-23 National Team camp in North Texas, where they were preparing for the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament that kicks off on March 22 against Cuba in Nashville, Tenn. Duka played 45 minutes in the squad’s 2-1 win over FC Dallas on Wed., Feb 22. He scored a goal in the 3-0 win over the San Antonio Scorpions of the NASL on Feb. 25, and featured as a substitute in the 2-0 win over their Mexican counterparts on Wednesday (Feb. 29) at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
 
OHIO ARMY NATIONAL GUARD SENIOR BOWL III TO BE HELD AT CREW STADIUM ON APRIL 14
The Ohio Army National Guard Senior Bowl III will take place at Crew Stadium on Saturday, April 14, at 1 p.m. The Ohio Army National Guard Senior Bowl was created to showcase some of the best college football players in Ohio and remains the only college all-star game in the Buckeye State. The North Team holds a 2-0 advantage over the South, winning last year’s contest at Crew Stadium, 19-16. Event promoter GameDay Management has announced that Franklin County Children Services will serve as the event charity. Foster children, under the care of FCCS and other local agencies, will have the opportunity to attend the Senior Bowl free of charge, and Senior Bowl participants and coaches will provide a free football clinic, under the direction of FCCS, prior to the game. Tickets to the Ohio Army National Guard Senior Bowl III are on sale at the Crew Stadium Box Office and online at TicketMaster.com. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 day of the game. For more information about the Ohio Army National Guard Senior Bowl III, visit www.OhioCollegeFootball.com.
 
CREW ACADEMY AND PRE-ACADEMY TEAMS RETURN FROM TRIP TO SOUTH CAROLINA
The Crew Soccer Academy and pre-academy teams joined the senior team in Charleston, S.C., for the first portion of its stint. While in South Carolina, they had the opportunity to interact with the senior team and participated in matches against local soccer clubs and other MLS academy teams. On Feb. 24 the CSA U18s defeated SC United Academy, 3-2, behind goals by Brett Elder (2) and Alex Crognale, while the U16s tied SC United, 0-0. On Feb. 25 it was the pre-academy teams turn, as 98s defeated SC United, 2-1, with goals by Said Ahmed and Indie Shedie, while the 97s dropped a 3-1 decision to their South Carolina counterparts, with Tyler Thomas scoring for the Crew. On Feb. 26 all teams were in action with the U18s losing to the New York Red Bulls Academy, 2-0, and the U16s drawing New York, 0-0. The 98s drew CASL, 2-2, with goals by Stephen Milhoan and Emeka Eneli, while the 97s defeated CASL, 2-1, with goals by Tyler Thomas and Eddie Folds. On Monday (Feb. 27) the U18s and U16s faced D.C. United with Brett Elder tallying two goals in the 18s’ 3-2 loss, while the 16s dropped a 3-0 decision.
 
CSA RESUMES DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY SEASON THIS WEEKEND
The Crew Soccer Academy U16s and U18s will resume their U.S. Soccer Development Academy schedule this weekend with a pair of home matches at Ohio Dominican University in Columbus. The U18s will open the weekend by facing the Andromeda Football Club of Texas on Saturday, March 3, at 1 p.m. followed by the U16s at 3:30. On Sunday, March 4, the U18s will face Solar Chelsea Soccer Club, also from Texas, at 10 a.m. followed by the U16s at 12:30 p.m