Greetings from Kansas City,
After going their separate ways for breakfast, the players and coaches gathered in the hotel lobby this morning to catch some Olympic action before embarking on the team walk through the city.
Following their Olympic viewing, the players enjoyed the sights of Kansas City on the team walk.
Eventually, the team found a nice shaded are to stretch and mentally prepare for tonight's match against Sporting KC. Eddie Gaven shared his veteran insight with rookies Ethan Finlay and Matt Lampson.
Finally, before heading back to the hotel to rest, these guys insisted on posing for a buddy pic:
The Crew Juniors U-19 advanced to the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship game with 2-1 victory over Empire United SA Syracuse on Thursday morning behind goals from Mike Walker and Cole Denormandie. The 2012 National Championship game will be televised on Fox Soccer Channel at 8pm Saturday night live from Rock Hill, SC. Midfielder Wil Trapp will join the U-19s for the National Championship, fresh off a fourth-place finish with the United States U-20 Men's National Team at the Milk Cup in Northern Ireland.
Captained by Crew Soccer Academy product and Akron standout Wil Trapp, the United States U-20 Men's National Team beat Turkey 1-0 on Monday to advance to the third place match on Thursday against Chile. The U-20s rebounded from a 2-1 defeat to defending champion Denmark in their opening match on July 21.
The U-20 National Team's assistant coach Brian Bliss will return to Columbus following Thursday's match to resume his duties as Technical Director for the Crew. Soon after, Trapp will return to Akron to begin training for the 2012 season.
Major League Soccer announced its inactive All-Stars on Wednesday afternoon, with one obvious snub: Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum. Gruenebaum should have been at least a reserve--if not a starter-- in tonight's MLS All-Star game in Philadelphia. To not even include the Hebrew Hammer on the inactive list is just downright mindboggling.
Here's how Gruenebaum stacks up against the four goalkeepers selected to the All-Star team:
The numbers speak for themselves.
The Crew will look to improve on its 9-4-2 record in international friendlies as the club hosts Stoke City F.C. of the Barclays Premier League Tuesday night at Crew Stadium. The Black & Gold has hosted teams from various countries around the world, including England, Germany, Mexico, Guatemala, Argentina, and Chile. Against the Premier League specifically, the Crew holds a 2-3-1 with its most recent match coming last season against Newcastle United, resulting in a 3-0 defeat.
Here is a look at the results of the 15 past Crew friendlies:
|05/14/1997||Leeds United (Premier League)||2-1 W|
|05/24/2000||Hamburg SV (Bundesliga)||4-2 W|
|07/26/2000||Newcastle United (Premier League)||2-2 D|
|05/29/2001||Bayer Leverkusen (Bundesliga)||4-3 W|
|05/15/2002||FC Nurnberg (Bundesliga)||7-2 W|
|06/26/2002||Tigres UANL (Mexican Primera)||2-1 L|
|06/04/2005||CD Universidad Catolica (Chilean Primera)||4-1 W|
|07/27/2005||Fulham FC (Premier League)||2-1 W|
|07/26/2006||Everton FC (Premier League)||1-1 D|
|11/08/2006||CSD Municipal (Liga Nacional)||2-0 W|
|07/28/2007||Aston Villa (Premier League)||3-1 L|
|11/13/2007||Estudiantes Tecos (Mexican Primera)||2-0 W|
|07/9/2008||Club Atletico Independiente (Argentine Primera)||2-1 W|
|07/20/2008||West Ham United (Premier League)||3-1 L|
|07/26/2011||Newcastle United (Premier League)||3-0 L|
Crew midfielder Chris Birchall was like a little kid on Christmas when he found out he'd be playing against his hometown club Stoke City on his first day of training with the Black & Gold.
"That just made my day," Birchall expressed with laughter upon learning the news back in May. "I just can't believe what you just said, really."
"Stoke is exactly where I lived. I know a lot of the Stoke players," he continued. "I get to share the field with my best friend."
Birchall's best friend is Stoke defender Andy Wilkinson. The Potters' right back seved as Birchall's best man at his wedding back in June and is godfather to Birchall's son, Ashley.
"The chances of (Birchall) coming from the other side of the world to play for a team, then for us through a preseason tour that we've never done before to come and play against him-- the chances are unreal," Wilkinson said after Stoke's Monday training session in Obetz.
The two have know each other since they were six, and have been best friends ever since. Wilkinson says they're both looking forward to getting the best of each other on the field Tuesday night.
"We've only played each other a couple of times," the Potter said.
"If there's a chance for a tackle, I'm sure neither of us will back out," Wilkinson said laughing.
The Crew and Stoke City kick off at 7:30PM EST from Crew Stadium.
For Birchall's take on the match, listen to the latest edition of the Sideline Sit Down.
FOX Sports Ohio analyst Duncan Oughton previews tonight's match against D.C. United.
Crew legend Frankie Hejduk took to the streets of Columbus early Friday morning on a trolley decked out in Black & Gold to rally fans ahead of tomorrow's match against D.C. United. Afterward, Frankie joined 99.7 The Blitz's Loper and Randi on air to help promote the match.
With training open to over 1000 local youth for Kids Day at Crew Stadium, Crew defender Josh Williams was showered with chants to dunk the ball over the crossbar. As you can see from the GIF below, J3 gave the kids what they were asking for:
Crew rookie Ethan Finlay was recently honored with the Omaha World-Herald's prestigious Fred Ware Award for his accomplishments playing for Creighton University. According to the World-Herald's website, "The Ware Award is given annually to the four-year college athlete in Nebraska who, in the judgment of the newspaper's editors, made the most significant achievement in sports while representing the best traditions of his or her institution. The late Fred Ware organized The World-Herald's sports department and served as sports editor from 1924 to 1942, and later was managing editor and a member of the newspaper's board of directors."
Past winners of the Ware Award include current Detroit Lions star Ndamukong Suh, Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, Atlanta Hawks sharpshooter Kyle Korver, and Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch.
For the full article, check out the World-Herald's feature on the Crew rookie.
Photo courtesy of Creighton Athletics.