James finding himself at home in Columbus
OBETZ, Ohio – Julius James has filed so many change of address forms the past four years that the US Postal Service probably knows him on a first-name basis.
Yet, the Trinidad and Tobago defender found a level of peace with his fourth club since 2008 when he joined the Crew on Feb. 28 after stops at Toronto FC, Houston Dynamo and D.C. United.
The first two moves were the results of trades for the former University of Connecticut player, while DC released him in mid-February.
James said each transaction has made his resolve stronger.
“You have a chip on your shoulder,” he said. “In the past, I’ve been pretty angry about it. I’ve been praying to God so I can forgive the people involved in it. It’s not like they committed a sin or anything, but it hurts.
“I figured the quicker I get over that pain, the quicker I could go and play,” he added. “The teams that I got traded from are in my past. All I can do is be grateful because I ended up in a situation like this. Maybe all that happened for a reason.”
The Crew (1-1-2) are certainly happy James, 26, was available. James gives the club a dependable center back to replace Eric Brunner, who went to Portland in the MLS Expansion Draft.
James started the opener for the injured Andy Iro and has been paired with Chad Marshall for the ensuing three games, all shutouts.
“[James] or Iro can step in and do a great job,” goalkeeper William Hesmer said. “We have the luxury of playing either one of them. He was a great pick up by our front office.”
Coach Robert Warzycha admitted to wondering why James had bounced around the league.
“It comes to your mind with any deal,” he said. “I remember when he played for DC how hard it was to play against him. Every single coach is going to tell you whatever doesn’t work on the other team I can fix it. This is the same thing here.”
James was the ninth overall pick for Toronto in 2008 and appeared in 13 matches with one goal before being traded in the offseason to Houston for Canadian midfielder Dwayne De Rosario.
He played eight games for the Dynamo then was dealt United. James, who has four appearances for his national team, led DC defenders in minutes last season but was deemed expendable by new coach Ben Olsen.
Being moved so many times caused James to question himself.
“You tend to look at yourself to see exactly what you’ve been doing wrong,” James said. “I never could look in the mirror and say I’ve been a bad teammate or a bad person, bad for the locker room, a bad player.
“After awhile, you just get strong mentally and take it as a new door opening. That’s why I took this opportunity.”