OBETZ, Ohio – It took a while for Duncan Oughton the Crew player to adjust to being Duncan Oughton the front office member.
But as he enters his second season of retirement, Oughton is at peace with the decision and is more involved than ever in 2012.
“It was a long year for me transitioning but it’s been good. I’m still smiling,” Oughton told MLSsoccer.com.
Oughton spent more time in a Crew uniform than most, appearing in 136 games to put him 10th on the team’s all-time list. Undoubtedly he would have played more if not for persistent knee problems in the second half of his career, and they finally forced him to retire after the 2010 season.
He then immediately joined the staff as the assistant technical director and worked in the office at Crew Stadium and with the team at their Obetz training site.
This year Oughton is spending even more time on the field.
“It’s good to have Duncan around,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “The players like him and they respect him for his playing days. He’s another set of eyes for us coaches.”
Oughton, who won five trophies with the Crew including three Supporters' Shields, is enjoying being back involved on the field again. However, he is serious about separating himself from his playing days.
“When I retired, I stopped playing,” he said. “I try not to jump in too much at training unless I’m really needed for numbers. I don’t try and set things up to get myself involved.
“I need to be on the other side of the line. I need players to see me on the other side of the line so they can get used to me in this role, especially guys that I’ve played with,” Oughton added. “I’m not one who loved it when coaches jumped in when I was a player, so I don’t want to be the guy who’s always trying to jump in as a coach.”
In his playing days, the midfielder was often the conduit between the backline and forwards and he has a similar type of role now.
“I feel like somewhat of a link at times between the office and the players and the coaching staff,” he said. “Also, sometimes between some of the players and some of the coaching staff or some of the fitness staff.”
Even though he no longer plays, there is still the same passion for the Crew that keeps him a fan favorite in Columbus.
Last Saturday morning, Oughton trained the players who didn’t travel to Colorado for the season opener. He then drove to Cleveland for his job as TV analyst with play-by-play announcer Dwight Burgess to cover the game from the FOX Sports Ohio studio.
The Crew lost 2-0 and 34-year-old Oughton anguished over the defeat during the two-hour trip home.
“You know how much I love the Crew and we lose the game," he said. "It was a long drive home. The guys, I’m sure it was the same thing. It’s a long trip back from Colorado when the result’s not the best.”