Sirk's Notebook: Oughton's IntroDunctions 2012
It’s that special time of year again. It’s time for the 7th annual edition of Oughton’s IntroDunctions, whereby Crew TV analyst / assistant coach Duncan Oughton concludes months of intensive research to fill all of us in on the Crew’s new players. The idea is that once Crew fans learn about the players representing our club, the closer the bond that they will feel, and therefore the more they will want to cheer for those players. We all remember how nobody cheered for Guillermo Barros Schelotto until everybody learned that he ate all foods, including milk and cereal, in burrito form. The rest was history.
This annual tradition—some may call it a roast, but we all know that Duncan is not the least bit prone to exaggeration under any circumstances—has been a rite of passage for every new Crew player since 2006. That year, I missed the first half of the season to be with my terminally ill mother. When I returned to Columbus, Crew coach Sigi Schmid had blown up the roster to the extent that I hardly knew who anyone was. I enlisted Duncan’s help, and he filled me in on all sorts of important facts, like how then-rookie goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum ran a thriving underground DVD rental business called Rabbi Rentals.
Each year, the education continued…
* In 2007, we learned that Brad Evans had been repeatedly bitten by poisonous snakes and scorpions as a child growing up in Arizona, which made his body flimsy.
* In 2008, Duncan revealed that Emmanuel Ekpo was thrilled to learn that Ohio’s nuisance population of Canada geese had no owners, so he was going to corral them and start a goose farm.
* In 2009, we found out that Eric Brunner held the title of The World’s Most Annoying Man.
* In 2010, Duncan reported that Dilly Duka founded an Albanian taxi cab service to run all of the other rookies to and from Obetz.
* In 2011, Duncan taught us that Julius James talks a lot, Jeff Cunningham adopted and nursed Aaron Horton and Korey Veeder, Eric Gehrig had outdone Simon Elliott for the worst Crew hair style of all time, and that Cole Grossman had the galling temerity to somehow think that Duke was a more renowned institution of higher learning than Duncan’s alma mater, Cal State Fullerton.
So now it’s time learn about 2012’s newcomers! Before we begin, two disclaimers:
1. I am not going to bother put quotes around Duncan’s words in the 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/or staff of the Columbus Crew, nor any reasonable sense of objective reality.
With that out of the way, let’s start learning!
#28 MATT LAMPSON
Samsonite. Swanson. Swami. Michael Sampson. He’s been called a good number of things by the players and the coaching staff. It took a while to get his name right, similar to the movie Dumb & Dumber. In the end, I think they just chose the suitcase name, so instead of Lampson, he is Sampson. I think his name was Mark Sampson at one point in the huddle.
Matt’s obviously a homegrown kid, so he was very well known by at least ten people in Ohio before he came to the Crew. Actually, a bunch of people probably knew him from Ohio State as well, so make that 20 people.
I think one of the key factors in the Crew picking him up as a homegrown player is that he used to come train with us, and every time he would come to train, he would bring all of these baked goods. He would bring mango bread, banana bread, cinnamon loaves…his mom is a baker. She’s like a fancy-schmancy baker. She does an outstanding job. Her stuff tastes delicious. When it came to the question of should we sign this guy, I think the mango bread put it over the top. He’s a good goalkeeper, but man, he sure brings a lot to the table. Literally. He brings lots of different deliciousness.
He’s a big kid and he’s a really intelligent kid. I think he actually gave up going to medical school to be a backup MLS goalie. Whoa. Whoops. Good decision there, buddy. But we love Lampson. He’s a big dumb smart guy. I think that’s the best way to describe him.
Also, his dress sense is interesting and questionable. It’s the whole smart-dumb thing again. He tries to be smart by bringing back old-school gangster movies, but he ends up looking quite dumb.
#4 CARLOS MENDES
The Puerto Rican slash Mexican slash American. I think. Something like that. No, he’s Portuguese, not Puerto Rican.
Carlos is a veteran of this league, even though he’s new to us. When he came in from New York, it was a great pickup for us because he’s a very experienced guy. Coming in, he didn’t just bring a soccer player. He brought an X-Factor. Or an America’s Next Top Idol. Or whatever those stupid shows for 12-year-olds are. He loves a good sing-along. He sits on this random box and beats it like it’s a drum. It has a name, and it has like an amp and microphone that comes from it. He’s really good at beating on a box, as well as at soccer. It’s really cool to have multiple talents like that. I mean, he can hit a box and make it make noise. That’s really good, Carlos. Well done. I love it.
His main claim to fame is that his brother-in-law made it to Hollywood on American Idol. That’s pretty cool. He got cut right before the main TV group, but he’s outstanding, and I think Carlos has been kind of flying on this guy’s coat tails. He beats on his box on stage sometimes while this other guy is singing, which thankfully the guy’s voice goes right over top Carlos’ playing, because his voice is really good.
Carlos can also play the guitar. He plays a mean guitar. He has some musical talent. Whenever he’s done with MLS, he’ll have one those outstanding careers on a street corner, busking, making more money than most of us make in our regular jobs.
[Last year, you told me that Tommy Heinemann had two songs: “RailHawks For Life” and “I Love Josh and Marco.” (Josh Gardner and Marco Rosa, who were with Heinemann during their Carolina RailHawks days.) Does Carlos have any of his own songs?]
Carlos probably has two songs on each instrument, meaning four right off the bat. I think he plays a regular drum set, and plays it really well, so that’s at least six songs. I mean, he knows only two songs, but he can play them on three different instruments, for a total of six songs. That’s pretty amazing to me. “So Long New York” or “So Long Red Bulls” was one of them, and then the other one is called “Viva la Mexico”, which is weird since he is from Portugal.
[Do you ever talk (crap) to him about MLS Cup 2008?]
I think just a flash of the ring every now and again rubs it in enough. I think he’s still crying on the inside.
#32 NEMANJA VUKOVIC
[Let me start. Where does the nickname Netzo come from? I don’t see how you get Netzo out of Nemanja.]
That is an excellent question, Sirk. It all goes back to Scoop. (Crew goalkeeper coach Scoop Stanisic.) See, Scoop isn’t his name. I don’t know that anyone knows his real name. He just calls himself Scoop. Nemanja is Scoop’s adopted son here in America. They drive everywhere together. They do everything together. Scoop has taken him under his wing, and in doing so, he has given him this name.
When he first got here, we found that his name isn’t really hard to say. Nemanja isn’t hard to say. You can say it. I can say it. We all can say it. But Scoop said we shouldn’t call him Nemo because it’s embarrassing because of Finding Nemo, so he said we should call him Netzo. It kind of stuck, but Nemanja was like, “Why are you calling me this?” But that’s what Scoop told everyone to call him, so he’s got this name that is kind of mentally challenging in the sense that he has to be thinking, “Why are you calling me Netzo when Nemanja is easy to say?” But I think they do that with a lot of foreigners. Sometimes they have these long names, so they call them Steve or Andrew or something. But he got Netzo. You’ve got to give Scoop a lot of credit on that one.
#8 CHRIS BIRCHALL
Aww, Birchy. The little engine that can. Except not little. He’s a big engine. I call him Meat Pie. He’s just a tank. He’s got all sorts of different names. Some of the Trini connection call him Juggernaut.
[Back when he first starting playing for T&T, my buddies Flick, Z-Man, and I used to call him “The Trini Jackie Robinson” for breaking the color barrier.]
Yeah, Birchy’s English, yet he somehow became the token white guy on the Trinidad & Tobago national team. I guess his mom was born in the harbor there or something, so by default, he can play for Trinidad. He’s a weird one in that sense. I think South Park named a character Token. That’s another one of his nicknames. Because he’s so international, as an English, Trini, American, he hangs out with everybody. He’s just floating around between groups, looking to find another national team to worm his way onto.
Birchy is a lovely guy. He’s kind of a jokester. Everyone loves Birchy. He’s got a fantastic way of speaking the English language. He speaks it like it is meant to be spoken—English. Not this American English that everyone else speaks here. Obviously, I have a common bond with him because I too, coming from New Zealand, speak English. So that’s great because I have someone I can talk to who understands me. We can chat together, so it was a big plus for me when Birchy arrived.
He gets very excited whenever you talk about David Beckham. He talks of good old times hanging out in LA with David. Even though he is from Trinidad, and David Beckham is from England, he says they are from the same country, although I can’t quite see how.
And I’ll tell you what, Birchy’s become quite a goalkeeper. If we ever need to go back to the third string, Eddie Gaven may have lost his job. Even though Eddie got Save of the Week—clap and give yourself another pat on the back, buddy—Birchy is just, like, some sort of flying meat pie. He’s digging balls out of the top corners and making amazing saves after training. It’s pretty cool to see. In a sense, it’s a nickname my dad once had, and you can throw it Birchy’s way—The Flying Pig. Or the Flying Meat Pie. Whichever you choose.
#37 KEVAN GEORGE
Kevan is kind of a secret. He always has this huge smile on his face. He comes out, works so hard, does his daily work, and every now and again, you’ll hear something. The word “bamba”, I think it is. Just that word. Like, he’ll make a nice pass, then he says “bamba” and smiles. His smile is so inviting and warm, and then you see him make a tackle and he just kills somebody. It’s a typical Trini tackle. He’s got that in his game.
Maybe it’s a Trini thing, but he’s friendly with everyone. Trinis are always so nice and quiet. Well, I wouldn’t say they’re ALL quiet. Julius. But a lot of them in the past, apart from Julius, are known to be fairly quiet and go about their work, and then when it’s time to relax and laugh and joke, they are very good at that. Kevan can do a little bit of that, but he’s mostly the quiet, hardworking assassin. It makes me wonder what he’s hiding.
But what can you say about Kev? He keeps his nose pretty clean. He just cruises out, does his work, does more work, kicks a few people, says “bamba”, kicks a few more people, smiles, and then goes back in the locker room.
He’s got those long, long legs. He’s the complete opposite of (former Crew goalkeeper) Noah Palmer back in the day. Noah had a long body and mini legs. Perhaps Noah could get Kevan to loan him a little bit of leg. But I think Kevan is on his way to becoming a very good soccer player, so we may need to revisit this introDunction as maybe he will come out of his shell more.
I know he misses his good buddy Aubrey Perry. Kevan and Tre Perry, they were attached at the hip. I think all of Kevan’s talking was used up in the first three months of the season, talking about FIFA. Apparently he rates himself very highly in that video game, and Aubrey Perry rated himself very high as well, so they used to battle. That’s when Kevan would talk. He would talk a lot of crap about FIFA. Kevan and Aubrey would both talk a decent amount of crap to Tony Tchani about not being as good as them. So I think Kevan used up his yearly allotment of words talking crap about FIFA.
#10 MILOVAN MIROSEVIC
[NOTE: For years now, Duncan has used the IntroDunctions to assert that former Crew midfielder Sebastian Rozental is the head of some sort of mysterious international cartel. It’s been a long-running conspiracy that always has questions, but never any answers. In 2008, Duncan hypothesized that the cartel was providing Danny O’Rourke with weightlifting supplements, but that theory was never re-visited. Instead, we are left with a cartel lineage that runs from Rozental to Schelotto and Padula, to Sebastian Miranda, and now some more new faces. In fact, Rozental, Schelotto, and Miranda have lived in the same house, one after another, which makes Duncan suspicious. The cartel’s purpose remains a mystery, but Duncan is still on the case. One of these years, he is sure he will crack the case.]
See, again, another that has come in under that whole Sebastian Rozental cartel. I think Milo is a Chilean, but “Milovan Mirosevic” doesn’t sound so Chilean, does it? So I think Milo could be the spy that is trying to infiltrate into the Croatian mafia a little bit. Sebastian Rozental hand-delivered Milovan Mirosevic to the Columbus Crew. He said, “I’m coming to town and I’m bringing this guy in with me.” So I think there may be something to this.
Again, this conspiracy theory we’ve had for all these years, all of sudden this guy is Milo’s agent, he brings him into town, slots him into the neighborhood—not into the cartel house that Sebastian Miranda still runs, but you’d think that maybe if Milo wasn’t being followed or tailed, or if there weren’t some questions over this guy, he would have moved into the basement with Sebastian Miranda, like Gino did with Guillermo, or like Marcos Gonzalez did with anyone who had a basement. So I think again, Sirk, we’re really onto something. We’ve got to boil this down, because the next thing you know, I mean, Dilly Duka, he’s not Croatian, he’s Albanian, but whatever. Just look out, buddy.
Milo is a good professional. He goes about his work very well. Again, so many of these guys keep their nose clean, so it’s hard to dig up dirt for these introDunctions.
Oh wait, Milo’s dog. This could go back to the cartel. He’s got this dog that had to be specially flown in. (Tucker’s assistant) Captain Ron had to go to New York to pick up this dog, I think bypassing customs. I think Captain Ron pulled right up to the runway and pulled the dog off of the plane, and then drove straight back to Columbus without stopping for gas or food. I think those were his orders, which was interesting because he ran out of gas and had to push the car the last 12 miles into Columbus with Milo’s dog safely inside.
That dog gets everything. The dog sleeps in the bed and Milo’s wife sleeps on the couch. That dog is pampered 24 hours a day. It’s a special dog. They say a man’s best friend is his dog, and in Milo’s case, man’s best friend is certainly his dog.
#25 JAIRO ARRIETA
Little Costa Rican. He’s got a big smile. His English is very limited, so I haven’t had a good talk with him yet, but he’s learning English a lot faster than Emilio. In fact, in just eight short weeks, he knows double the English that Emilio has learned in three years. Hopefully, Jairo can start teaching Emilio English as he gets it. Maybe he did. Emilio does have a new sentence, so maybe he got it from Jairo. That new sentence for this year is “Are you kidding me?” Emilio now says that. There might be a word with an F somewhere in there. You can place it where you want.
But back to Jairo. This guy is a tank. His ankle could be the size of my head, and he will tape it up and train and play. He’s a little animal. You’ve seen it on the field with his work rate, but he brings it to Obetz every day. He’s out there just running crazy. You’re like, “Dude, your ankle is the size of a soccer ball right now. This is crazy. What are you doing?” But he just smiles. It’s unbelievable.
I helped him out with a few things for his family and he proudly—and I mean proudly—bought me a hat that says Costa Rica on it. It’s a lovely hat. If I was a tourist in Costa Rica, I would buy this hat. But I think more than anything, his point was that, “Hey, I’m from Costa Rica.” I think, like most people, I thought he was Mexican. As you can see from my shirt right here, anything north of Ohio is Canada, and then south of Ohio, I thought everything’s all Mexico. But apparently it’s not. Apparently there’s a place called Costa Rica where they make sweet hats.
Jairo enjoys a good joke. He’s always laughing. I think if he spoke fluent English, he would be a really funny guy. I’m looking forward to that.
#13 ETHAN FINLAY
Aww, Little Fins. Ethan is a super nice guy. Again, it’s hard to get dirt on some of these guys. He came in from the draft, very well-spoken . The one thing that shocks me is that, soaking wet, he’s 140 pounds. Carrying a ten-pound weight, he’s 150 pounds when soaking wet. That made sense, right? Was my math good?
You know, he’s a wiry little character. He’s got those bendy legs. They can bend back and in all directions. To nutmeg him, you have to chip the ball between his knees because there’s no way you’ll fit the ball between his ankles, which are touching.
He likes to have a good joke, so every now and again, you’ll see a soccer ball come ripping across the field like he’s trying to nutmeg me from half a field away, and then you’ll see him looking like, “Did it go through? Did it not go through?” That’s Ethan. He’s not afraid to rip them from anywhere in the region. I’ve taken one in the (groin) from him. He really shouldn’t kick a soccer ball at a coach’s (groin), because I can make him run. But he’s a good kid.
He’s a competitive little guy as well, whether it be in training, or in preseason at shuffleboard. You know that game for old people? The game where you hit an oversized checker down a concrete pathway toward some colored squares or triangles or something? Man, this guy, I would look out my window and he would be having arguments about the score in old people shuffleboard. The sad thing is, he was arguing with the old people! I think some of them couldn’t hear, so it was a pretty sweet argument. But no, he’s a competitor and a feisty little fella. He’s a lovely man.
Kirk Urso was another one playing that shuffleboard game. Whenever Ethan was getting fired up and arguing with old people or whoever he was playing shuffleboard against, Kirk was just standing there with his little poking prod, getting Ethan more fired up. Ethan is such a nice, quiet, shy, and loving guy, so to see him get fired up like that over shuffleboard, Kirk would be like, “No, Ethan, I think you’re wrong about that,” which would fire him up even more. It was so funny. Kirk would just be smiling and letting him go on. Obviously, those two guys were very close, even on the shuffleboard court. Every time I looked out my room window, whenever I was relaxing, I would look out and see those two on that court. I think they both would have had a future in shuffleboard in their retirement days.
#33 FEDERICO HIGUAIN
He’s very new. Originally, I think a lot of the fans were like, “Higuain? Oh yay! The guy from Real Madrid!” Really? Have a word with yourselves. But in the world of soccer, when you mention the name Higuain, people probably think of Gonzalo at Real Madrid. But I’ll tell you what, Gonzalo. You’d better watch out because your brother might be taking your spot if he keeps on banging in goals here in Columbus.
He hasn’t been around a huge amount of time, so we might have to revisit this introDunction. I’m thinking he’s just another piece of this cartel puzzle. The guy has connections to Europe and to Spain, and maybe he can hide behind his brother’s name and really infiltrate certain Spanish cartels. Rozental has really thought this thing out. He’s getting in there. He’s putting the pieces of the puzzle together and he’s starting to get a picture. I don’t know what the picture is, but it’s a picture.
Again, another guy who doesn’t like just being lumped in as Mexican. I should probably learn some geography and stop doing that, but they are all getting their revenge by doing the same thing and calling me Australian.
But again, as you can see from my t-shirt, Mexico is anything south of America. Being from New Zealand, I consider myself part Mexican. Mexico’s a beautiful country. The beaches are beautiful, the food is delicious, the people are friendly, and it's a wonderful place. Federico calling me Australian is not the same thing, because Australia is full of criminals, and I'm not a criminal. It would be rude for me to say anything else about Australians because they already have a hard enough time with life in general. Being New Zealand's little brother is tough.
But Federico always calls me Australian now. I don’t know if he thinks I really am Australian or if it’s just for revenge, but he loves it because it clearly (ticks) me off. “Australian” is one of his English words. He’s starting to pick up the language pretty quickly, so he’s another possible teacher for Emilio.
One of the guys that came with him, I think it may have been his agent, I looked at this guy and I had never seen jeans this tight or in this color. It was old school stone-washed, except they didn’t use stones? I don’t know. Whatever it was, I went up to Federico, and I said, “Hey, pantalones muy mal!” in my limited Spanish. He laughed, so I think we’re going to be sharing some good jokes with him in the future as his English improves.
[I remember Tucker telling Federico that he takes his wadded up clothes, irons them, and then wads them back up. Then Federico showed Tucker that his clothes weren’t wrinkled.]
If Federico is using Tucker as his fashion consultant….
Again, when you’re new to a country, Tucker is probably not the best guy to choose as your fashion consultant. At least he didn’t go to Danny O’Rourke. That would have been worse. So he’s at least that smart. I think Fedrico’s agent guy asked Danny O’Rourke where to buy jeans and Danny just gave him a pair of his own.
#34 AARON SCHOENFELD
Aaron is a big corn-fed boy from somewhere in Tennessee. East Tennessee State, I think. I think he doubles as an Abercrombie & Fitch model now that he has moved to the bright lights of Columbus. At the first chance he gets, he gets around and struts his stuff, looking for that modeling gig.
He’s another guy who works hard and has a big smile. He would run through a brick wall for you. The problem is, he would run through a brick wall for you. I don’t think he gets that it’s a term that you say. “Hey mate, I need you to run through a brick wall for me today.” And then he runs off! Then he comes back with bruises and blood. You say, “What did you do?” He says, “I ran through a brick wall.” And you’re like, “Schoenfeld, dude, it’s just a saying.”
He’s a lovely man, and he was wearing a Utah Jazz basketball top the other day. I said, “Why are you supporting the Utah Jazz? That’s weird, right?” And he said, “No, someone used to call me a player on the team, so I got the shirt.” I don’t know any of the players on the Utah Jazz – does anyone?—so I don’t remember the guy’s name. There’s your next project—find the Schoenfeld lookalike from the Utah Jazz.
[NOTE: I imagine it was Andrei Kirilenko, now of the Minnesota Timberwolves.]
So he was wearing this shirt because people said he looked like that guy. That’s why he went and got a Utah Jazz shirt? Really? I mean, I’ve been called a lot of things, like (golfer) David Duval, but I didn’t go out and buy a golf top and pretend I was David Duval. I mean, what the (heck.) But he’s a lovely man in his own right. In his own mind.
#18 BEN SPEAS
Bengie Speas! He’s another little homegrown. He’s very well known in the Akron area of the world. Are there people who live in that area of the world?
[Josh Williams and LeBron James.]
So they all know each other? Good!
Here’s a story about Benny Speas. I went into Chipotle one day. I was starving hungry, so I go into Chipotle and Ben Speas is sitting there on the phone. I was like, “Hey, what’s going on?” and he said, “I’m getting lunch.” I said, “Oh cool, do you want me to get you something?” and he said, “No, no, I’m good.” I get my Chipotle, I eat my Chipotle, and then I’m sitting in the Chipotle, and there’s Ben, still sitting there. He’s just sitting in the Chipotle on his phone.
I don’t know, maybe he’s the new secretary for the cartel. I mean, using a Chipotle as an office is a little shady. You can find a better spot than that, right? Maybe Ben thinks Chipotle is a big phone booth that happens to sell burritos.
Ben is freshly engaged. Ah, speaking of that, we need to go back to Kevan. Upon finding out that Ben Speas was freshly engaged, Emilio—after the team got done clapping to congratulate Ben and giving him his props—Emilio decided it was time to confess his love for Kevan. Emilio turned around, found Kevan, and then got down on one knee and proposed to Kevan. Kevan’s reaction was so funny. It was unbelievable. I honestly almost (peed) myself. Kevan’s a quiet kid from Trini, and he’s seen some stuff in his life, but he didn’t know whether to kick Emilio, or punch him, or hug him, or run…he didn’t know what to do. It was one of the funniest non-English-speaking jokes in my life. Emilio dropped down and just kind of grunted the proposal without using any actual words, and Kevan just about crapped himself. That was Kevan caught in a moment. Sorry, I had to go back to that, and it was all because Ben Speas is freshly engaged.
#17 OLMAN VARGAS
Oh, Mr. Vargas. Olman came in preseason, so he’s been around a long time now. He sometimes comes in under the radar because he’s a very quiet type of guy. But back in the day, I saw him at a hockey game, and he was really trying to jump into the American lifestyle. He was at the hockey game waving flags and loving life. He was right across the ice from me. Carlos Mendes had taken him so that he could translate and all that. It was a Hispanic outing of sorts, and I think he was right into that.
I think he loves the American way of life, and you can tell that by his dress. He’s like a cross between Federico’s agent guy and Danny O’Rourke. He’s kind of got an emo, tight-wearing, fancy-dress type of look. He’ll wander in sometimes and you’ll think, “What the (heck)…” I’m talking pastel colors and other sorts of interesting looks.
He’s another guy that always has a huge smile on his face. He’s got these huge sunglasses that cover the sides of his mouth because his smile is so big. He just enjoys life, and he enjoys America. They should remake the movie Coming to America, and he could be the guy walking in the rose petals and waving his little flag.
[So since he likes hockey so much, is he going to start talking to guys like Rusty and Phil, since they talk about hockey a lot?]
As for talking, he needs to brush up on his English a little bit. He’s getting better. I’m sure he’s s shared a few little hockey anecdotes, but those guys are hardcore into it. They pad up and get out onto the ice and hit slapshots, or whatever hockey players do. They hit each other into the boards. I don’t think Olman is quite into it that much. I think he’s more into the fan atmosphere. Just the “being American” part of it all.
I don’t think he actually wants to be out on the ice. He’d probably be like a baby deer on ice. That would be something interesting to see. Put a baby deer out on ice with four skates and see how it goes. I think that would be Olman on ice skates.
Questions? Comments? Know of a good geography tutor? Feel free to write at firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter @stevesirk