Tonight at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the University of North Carolina Tar Heels and the NASL's Carolina RailHawks are set to play a special exhibition match, serving as a fundraiser for the Kirk Urso Memorial Fund.
Urso, who played collegiately at UNC and captained the Tar Heels to the 2011 NCAA Championship, was honored and remembered at the Crew's home match on August 9 against Toronto FC.
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images
Goalkeeper Steve Clark has appeared in all 23 matches for the Crew in 2014. His most recent performance included a five-save effort. In total, Clark now has had one six-save performance and five matches with five saves thus far in 2014. Clark is six ap- pearances shy of moving into a four-way tie for fifth place on the Crew’s single-season games played list, currently occupied by William Hesmer (29 - 2008), Brad Friedel (29 - 1997) and Jon Busch (29 - 2004).
Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan enter Columbus this weekend as the two active international team players with the most goals, following the retirement of Germany’s Miroslav Klose. Keane has 62 goals for Ireland while Donovan has scored 57 goals for the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Federico Higuain now has 25 goals and 21 assists in 62 appearances for the Crew dating back to August 19, 2012. He set a career-high in goals last year with 11 in 29 appearances. The Argentine has found the back of the net nine times in 2014 with 11 regular-season matches remaining, including Saturday.
In case you missed it last weekend during Kirk Urso Memorial Night, in partnership with The Children’s Heart Foundation, the Crew Soccer Foundation announced it has awarded a $50,000 grant from the Kirk Urso Memorial Fund to Dr. Christo- pher Breuer and Dr. Toshiharu Shinoka of Nationwide Children’s Hospital for their research on the treatment of cardiac heart defects in youth. The grant was the largest in the Foundation’s history and Drs. Breuer and Shinoka were recognized during halftime of the Crew match against Toronto FC held on Kirk Urso Memorial Night at Crew Stadium. Drs. Breuer and Shinoka’s tissue engineering research holds incredible potential for repairing birth defects, allowing a child’s own cells to be used to grow new tissue or organs for repair.
BERHALTER ON LEARNING FROM ARENA
Though it’s likely Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter has learned one thing or another from each of the coaches he played under during his 16-year career, the former defender has taken more from Bruce Arena due to the success the National Soccer Hall of Fame coach has seen in Major League Soccer’s history, including four MLS Cup wins and three Coach of the Year awards ... “I take a lot from [Arena],” Berhalter admitted ... “It’s not just one thing. Something that stands out, however, is how he gets his teams to compete. He doesn’t accept anything less than 100 percent. He makes that known.” ... “It will be fun,” Berhalter said ... “Obviously, I look up to him and he’s had a big influence on my career both on the playing field and off. It’ll be a good day.”
PIPA’S LAST THREE
Since scoring a beautiful goal off of a free kick in New England on July 26, Federico Higuain has been on a scoring tear ... the club’s Designated Player has tallied in three straight games after finding a goal on August 2 and again last weekend against Toronto ... Higuain leads the Crew this year in goals (nine) and assists (five).
FAST APPROACHING A CREW RECORD FOR PK’S
Federico Higuain has now scored 11 of his 25 career goals for the Crew in attempts from the penalty spot ... with his spot kick last weekend against Toronto FC, he is now tied for second with Brian McBride for second all-time in penalty kick goals, with 11 ... Guillermo Barros Schelotto leads the Crew with 13 penalty kick goals.
FINLAY’S LAST DOZEN TILTS
With his game-tying assist in Chicago to open the month, Ethan Finlay has recorded a goal or an assist in eight of the last 12 League matches he’s played in dating back to May 17 at Portland ... Finlay scored his first career tally in Oregon before returning home for a second goal against Chicago on May 24 ... on May 31 in Toronto, Finlay added an assist on Justin Meram’s tally to open the scoring before scoring on June 4 ... the Crew was held scoreless in the 0-0 draw on June 7 and Finlay missed action on June 29 after recovering from an appendectomy ... he returned with the team’s lone goal in the 1-1 draw at Colorado on July 4 ... Finlay also assisted Adam Bedell’s goal in the July 12 match at New York and added the game-winning goal on July 26 at New England.
Crew midfielders Kevan George and Tony Tchani volunteered at Faith Mission Community Kitchen, near Crew Stadium last week. The players assisted in serving lunch, as well as preparing future meals for local families in need.
Crew Brand Ambassador Frankie Hejduk's career intersected with Landon Donovan many times, from Bayer Leverkusen to the 2002 FIFA World Cup to Hejduk's late-career tenure with the LA Galaxy. The two also played together in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, where Hejduk recalls one of his favorite Donovan stories.
"[Donovan] was always staying after," said Hejduk. "He was always hitting balls after training. Guys were always on the bus and he was always the last to come on. I was going, 'Man, who is this guy? Does he think he's a superstar?' So we started joking, 'Hey, Superstar! Come on, get on the bus!' It became a thing that Olympics where it was something that I had already foreseen that ended up happening, because he did become a superstar. That name stuck with him forever.
"At the beginning, he was like, 'No, you have to stop calling me that,' but it stuck and everyone would laugh about it. It became just a funny thing in that tournament, and we had a great tournament ... In that tournament, he did what he always does. He came in and scored goals, and you saw a glimpse of him being a superstar in that tournament. That was the first time that I saw a glimpse of him as a player, and I went, 'Wow, this kid's going to be something special.' It turns out that he did. I still to this day call him 'Superstar,' and I know that Gregg [Berhalter] calls him 'Superstar' too. It's stuck with him for all these years and he's deserved that name."
This three-match homestand, the Crew's only such stretch of the season, figured to be a crucial mid-to-late season opportunity to build up points for an MLS Cup Playoff charge. After dropping the first contest to Toronto FC, Saturday's meeting with the LA Galaxy takes on added importance, a fact that's not lost on defender Eric Gehrig.
"It's very important to win your home games," said Gehrig. "Especially when you have our fans and a crowd like that, it gives us an advantage every time we play at home. So far, it hasn't been good enough at home, but thankfully we have some opportunities coming up. Big game on Saturday, I know everyone's jacked up, including the fans. We'll be ready."
Over this week, as the Black & Gold prepare to face Landon Donovan and the LA Galaxy, TheCrew.com has recapped the greatest Donovan moments in Columbus. Michael Parkhurst has shared several of those moments with the LA Galaxy attacker.
In the Crew Captain's rookie MLS season, he was named to the 2005 MLS All-Star Game in Columbus alongside Donovan. Additionally, in what ended up being Donovan's final appearance in a competitive match against Mexico in what was a highly successful United States National Team career, Parkhurst was on the pitch with Landon when he scored at Crew Stadium in the 78th minute of the 2013 "Dos a Cero" match.
Given their shared connections to the League and U.S. Soccer, it's understandable that Parkhurst said that he was sad to see Donovan retire.
"I'm sad to see him go. From a competitive standpoint I still think he's one of the best players in the League. Obviously for what he's done for U.S. Soccer and MLS, nobody's done anything more. He's an icon and he'll be missed."