Former Buckeyes to take field in international friendly
Moonlighting as the Crew's radio analyst, Ohio State men's soccer Head Coach John Bluem has seen plenty of memorable moments during his seven seasons in the broadcast booth. Perhaps nothing has made Bluem prouder than seeing two of his former Buckeyes -- and Columbus natives -- Konrad Warzycha and Matt Lampson in the Black & Gold's starting lineup last Sunday against the Portland Timbers.
The Crew's 1-0 victory will not only be remembered for the Black & Gold snapping the Timbers' 15-match unbeaten streak, but also for Warzycha's first professional start and Lampson's first-career shutout.
"To see some of your former players that have moved on to play professionally, it's exciting," Bluem said. "It's fun and very rewarding. Of course, you feel really happy for the guys: Konrad in his first start and Lampson earning his first start of the year and first shutout."
Warzycha and Lampson are just two of the many players in Bluem's time at Ohio State to make the jump to the professional ranks. When English Championship side Wigan Athletic visits Crew Stadium on Saturday, the former Buckeyes will be joined on the field by fellow Ohio State product Roger Espinoza.
After leading the Scarlet and Gray to the 2007 College Cup Final in his only season in Columbus, Espinoza was drafted by Sporting Kansas City and then went on to feature in the 2010 FIFA World Cup and 2012 Summer Olympics with Honduras. Most recently, Espinoza lifted the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and FA Cup within nine months of each other.
The Honduran's success, coupled with the progress Warzycha and Lampson have shown in MLS, is something that the former Buckeyes hope will grow the Ohio State men's soccer program.
"It means a lot for us Ohio State guys just to see how far the program has come," Warzycha said after the Crew's training session on Thursday. "We made it to the National Championship, won a couple of Big Ten titles -- the next step in getting recruiting going and the Ohio State name out there is to have guys playing professionally. To have three guys on the field on Saturday, especially being here in Columbus, it will be huge."
Added Lampson: "Just to be a product of the university, it's a very big thing to be proud of. We all had very good careers at Ohio State and we're very proud of the program we came from. We want really big things for that program. Konrad and Roger accomplished a lot getting to the National Final.
"I think we demonstrate what a lot of those guys want to strive for and we provide a good example of what it takes to get there."
With a large alumni group expected at Saturday's match, seeing three of his former players succeeding in professional soccer on the field at the same time will be a moment to remember for Bluem.
"One of the things that, as a coach, I really look at and think it's a good measure of our program is when we send players on to play at the next level," Bluem said. "To see three guys out there in an international friendly game and getting to play professional soccer, for a couple of them, Matt and Konrad getting to play in their hometown: it's pretty special.
"It will be a good memory for me and a great opportunity to share some Ohio State stories with the alumni."