Get to Know Stoke City
The Crew announced on Thursday afternoon that the club will host Stoke City F.C. of the Barclays Premier League on Tuesday July, 24. Before the Potters make the trip across the Atlantic, here's some background information on the club from Stoke-on-Trent.
Stoke City FC was founded in 1863 by ex-Charterhouse School pupil Henry Almond as one of the world's earliest association football clubs. City was given the nickname "The Potters" after the ceramic pottery industry that started in Staffordshire in the 17th century. Stoke remains the oldest club currently in the Premiership.
Over its 149 year history Stoke has spent the majority of the time in England's First Division. The club's last promotion came on the last day of the 2007-08 season by finishing runner-up in the Championship. The Potters have won one major domestic trophy in the club's history, winning the Football League Cup (now known as the Carling Cup) in 1972. Stoke was a lone goal away from securing its second piece of major silverware last season, as a Cinderella run in the FA Cup was ended in the final at Wembley Stadium with a 1-0 loss to Manchester City.
The Potters currently sit in 14th place in the Premier League with 44 points. Heading into the final weekend of the season, Stoke could finish as high as eleventh on the table if it beats relegation-threatened Bolton on Sunday. Tied on points with Norwich City, Sunderland, and Swansea City, The Potters could be helped out as those clubs face difficult tasks against Aston Villa, Manchester United, and Liverpool, respectively, on Sunday. If Stoke defeats Bolton on Sunday, City will equal its highest Premiership point total in the club's history.
On the European stage, Stoke City qualified for the UEFA Europa League after finishing runner-up to Manchester City in the 2011 FA Cup. The Potters advanced to the round of 32, going 3-2-1 in the group stage. Stoke's only loss in the group came against Besiktas in Istanbul. In the round of 32, The Potters were knocked out by Spanish side Valencia 2-0 on aggregate.
Stoke has been led in scoring the season by its record-offseason signing Peter Crouch with ten goals. The highlight of the six foot seven inch forward's season was a vollied wonder-strike from outside the box in The Potters' 1-1 draw against Manchester City on March 24 will receive strong consideration for Goal of the Year.
NEW SIGNING BIRCHALL EXCITED TO FACE HOMETOWN CLUB
"That just made my day," Crew midfielder Chris Birchall expressed with laughter upon learning that Stoke City would be visiting Crew Stadium this summer. "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 said. "I get to share the field with my best friend. (Stoke defender Andy Wilkinson) is my best friend and will be the best man at my wedding."
Also featured on Stoke's roster is Birchall and Julius James' Trinidad & Tobago National Team teammate Kenwyne Jones, as well as Honduran national teamer Wilson Palacios, and Englishmen Jonathan Woodgate, Jermaine Pennant, and Matthew Upson.
Birchall came up through the youth ranks of Stoke's crosstown rival Port Vale. Though the matchup used to be much more heated, Birchall says the rivalry has cooled down over the years as The Potters and Port Vale are now in different divisions.
"There's still a rivalry there, but it's seemed to ease off a bit now because Stoke are in the Premiership and Port Vale have faltered a little bit. Now, both teams just want what is best for each other and just wish each other the best as the two main teams in the city," he explained.
Tickets for the matchup go on sale to the general public on May 25 at 10:00AM EST.