COLUMBUS, Ohio – Andy Adlard is like any rookie who is excited to be teammates with Crew players he admires and hopes to emulate.
“I’m awed a little bit,” he said. “I know there are national-team players here that have played at the highest level against the top players in the world. I’m trying to do some of the things they’re doing and trying to link up a bit with them.”
But to call Adlard awestruck like a movie buff lined up at the red carpet for the Academy Awards? Nope.
“Being at Chelsea, I ate with my heroes – [Frank] Lampard and all them – for a week straight,” he said about his experience as a 17-year-old. “They were right next to me eating lunch. That got a lot of the starstruck out of me and settled me down a bit.”
Adlard’s stop with the Blues was just one of many before he entered Indiana University. He also trained with English clubs Birmingham City, Fulham and Colchester United.
Although the midfielder was born in Evansville, Ind., and grew up in Wisconsin, he feels at home in England, where his dad was a goalkeeper for Nottingham Forest and Lincoln City and was in the national team’s youth system.
The younger Adlard hoped his stint with Chelsea would create opportunities across the pond, but the timing was off.
“I was right at that age gap,” he said. “I didn’t have my British passport yet. I went over for a few more trials at different places. That was more for the experience than anything.”
His father eventually became a college coach in the US, including the head position at Marquette University from 1991 to 2005.
Crew coach Robert Warzycha said Adlard’s background is unlike that of the other rookies.
“He has an advantage,” Warzycha said. “He saw big games. He grew up in that environment with his dad playing and coaching.”
Adlard decided early that he didn’t want to be a goalkeeper.
“There was a point when I was eight or nine [that] I thought about it,” he said, “but by then I was already scoring goals. I love the feeling of scoring. I couldn’t go in goal.”
Adlard scored 19 goals in 86 games throughout his Hoosiers career and was an All-Big Ten first-team honoree in 2010. The Crew selected him in last month’s Supplemental Draft as part of their efforts to add more depth to their midfield ranks.
“We can plug him in whether it’s wide midfield or center,” Warzycha said. “He’s a good overall player.”
WARZYCHA vs. WARZYCHA — Columbus’ first preseason game is Saturday morning near Phoenix against Sporting Kansas City. Warzycha’s son, Konrad, is a rookie midfielder with SKC.
“As a father, it’s in back of your mind,” said the elder Warzycha. “But also, I coach a different team and I’m going to concentrate on my side.”
‘KEEPER UPDATE — William Hesmer, recovering from a separated right shoulder suffered in October, is expected to be cleared for full contact on Monday. Backup Andy Gruenebaum had a cortisone shot in his right hip last week and is at least a week away from training.