Crew midfielder, Birchall, gets married over MLS break
When Chris Birchall said goodbye Columbus on June 1 he left behind the hotel room he had lived in for weeks and bachelorhood.
Upon his return from England on Tuesday evening the newly married Crew midfielder headed straight to his just-purchased home in the northeastern suburb of Westerville. Yes, it’s been a whirlwind for the former Los Angeles Galaxy player since signing with the Crew on May 7. He let the club know before the deal was reached that the wedding was two years in the making and that the date would not be changed.
Fortunately it came during a three-week hiatus from MLS play.
“That’s why I’m so glad the Crew understood everything,” he told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “The club was great. Obviously I’m 28. I’m not a kid. I’m going to look after myself when I’m back home. I went back to get married and now it’s time to get serious.”
He can do so without having the worries of finding a house for his wife, Lucy, and their three-year-old son Ashley. They are expected to join him in four or five weeks after getting their visas approved.
Birchall said the family will spend the offseason in Columbus while renting their home in Stoke, England.
“We’ve been sick about moving back forth [while he was with the Galaxy],” he said. “We weren’t married so she had to go back every 90 days. Then in the offseason we spent a couple of months back in England but it gets a bit pricey when you’re paying for the family to fly every three months. Now that we’ve got the visas we’re going to make the most of them.”
Birchall couldn’t help but think about his teammates in Columbus on his wedding day because the reception was held at 17th century mansion called Crewe Hall.
“I felt a bit guilty because it was my wife, my wife now, who was sorting it all out and putting the final touches together when I was here,” he said. “On the day it all came together. Everything went well.”
A honeymoon will have to wait until after the season while Birchall pursues playing time with the Crew. He had been an unsigned free agent after being released in the fall by the Galaxy so he had work to do when he came to Columbus.
“The four weeks initially when I was here was what I really needed,” he said. “Even though I was back for my wedding and everybody thought it was party time it was five or six out of the nine or 10 days that I was in the gym. I didn’t want to lose my fitness.”
Birchall made his Crew debut for the final 24 minutes against Chicago on May 26 and went the distance vs. Dayton in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup three days later.
After Birchall did a series of sprints to end Wednesday’s practice, assistant coach Mike Lapper was pleased, “He looked good, like when he left. Just the wedding ring is different.”