Daniel Bidmead is the editor of ukmajorleaguesoccer.com, providing a unique perspective on Major League Soccer from across the pond. Bidmead is an avid Crew supporter and is visiting Columbus for the second time. Bidmead took the time to answer a few questions for TheCrew.com during his stay.
Cody Sharrett: Welcome to Columbus, Daniel. First of all, where exactly are you from and how did you become a Crew supporter?
Daniel Bidmead: I'm from near London, or as near London as any American is going to care (laughs). I got involved with supporting the Crew probably about three years ago now through a friend of mine who said, 'I've started watching MLS. It's a great league and you'll love it.'
I love all forms of football, so I sort of started getting involved in MLS and I thought, 'Well, I've got to pick myself a team.' The fact that the Crew's got the first soccer-specific stadium in MLS and they've got the coolest badge in the League as well, obviously. They've got the coolest badge in any football, so that helped. My old team, Rushden & Diamonds used to have a famous away kit, a black and gold kit. I kind of, sort of picked them for that. I stated watching them, and the fans have been absolutely amazing. I got about a month after saying, 'You know guys, I'm doing this thing…' I got a bucketload of stuff sent over to me with all the [Hudson Street] Hooligans and Crew Union stuff in it. That was it, really. I just sort of fell in love with the club.
CS: This is your second trip here. What are your impressions of Columbus and Crew Stadium?
DB: I love Crew Stadium and I love Columbus. I probably have quite a rose-tinted view of it, because I come over here and everybody is like, 'We're taking you to this, taking you to that.' A lot of it tends to be revolved around food, but that seems to where my plans go: going to a bar to food or to food to a bar.
I love Crew Stadium. I spend my time in the Nordecke, so I absolutely loved it. The atmosphere is incredible. The atmosphere in something like the Nordecke is so different to the European atmosphere, but I think in a good way. In England, you can't watch a game and drink beer. You have to drink beer where you can't see the pitch. The fact that everyone is drinking is just such a great atmosphere, a party atmosphere. I just love what the stadium means to MLS. When you see something like the USA vs. Jamaica game and stuff that's completely sold out and it looks amazing, I just think Crew Stadium is an amazing place to be. The atmosphere is incredible.
CS: What's it like over there? What's the perception of MLS?
DB: It's a different one. I obviously run MLS Soccer UK, and our aim is to promote the League to Brits and UK residents. It's difficult, because obviously if I want to watch a Crew game, I have to stay up to 1:00 or 1:30 in the morning and it will finish at 3:00 in the morning. It's difficult because of the time difference. It's difficult to convince people... It's getting better, it is a lot, because of people like [David] Beckham, [Thierry] Henry, [Tim] Cahill coming over here, or [Robbie] Keane. Keane and Cahill, I think, are two of the biggest ones purely because Beckham and Henry are massive, obviously, but Beckham and Henry came at the end of their careers. They kind of came to play retirement football, but they're brilliant players and they bring a great name. But people like Cahill and Robbie Keane, they're not at the end of their careers. That is important for the League.
For me, the thing that makes the League so good is that it's growing so fast… If you want to get involved in an MLS club -- whether you're in America or England, wherever -- the clubs are so accessible. You can just walk up to someone and just talk to them. You meet any fan of the Crew and ask them about the Crew, they will spill their life to you about how amazing the Crew are to them. I think that's what inspires me with the game and that's why we're trying to spread the message of 'Give this league a try, it's amazing'.
I watch the Premier League obviously, because it's a fantastic league. It's one of the best leagues in the world, but this is a lot more grassroots. It's a lot more pure style of football. You don't have all these -- you do have some -- players that will run down the wing, do lots of skill moves, and dive. You don't get that over here. I think that's what makes the League so great to people who haven't watched before. I've got so many friends now who I've told about [MLS], now they all try to catch games. If not, they'll catch the highlights. They're really, really enjoying it. I think that's what makes the League great for me. It's always difficult to convince someone who watches the Premier League or watches Italian league or something to watch [MLS], but obviously it's such a young league. No one really knows about it, but I think it's growing so well. As long as you convince them not to cheer for LA or the Red Bulls, you're doing OK (laughs). That's the first step.
CS: Do you have any favorite players for the Crew?
DB: I am a big fan of [Eddie] Gaven. Certainly since I started cheering or read into and seen, Gaven has been amazing for the Crew.
Obviously, you can't argue with the newest guy. Federico [Higuaín], I haven't seen him play properly. I've seen some highlights on a couple of games. Being out in Chicago and seeing him play, it was really, really good to watch that guy. You can't argue with that sort of player. Against the Revs, when he scored those two absolute screamers on free kicks.
I'm also a massive fan of G-Baum. I think he's a fantastic keeper. Obviously, it's not the best situation for him to get the call-up. He's been absolutely incredible and he's one of the reasons we've had such great results… And you can't leave out Duncan [Oughton].
CS: No love for your fellow countryman, Chris Birchall?
DB: I haven't seen enough of Birchall. He's from Stoke and I went to uni at Stoke, so I've got to love that. I haven't seen enough of him to say I love him. I love to see English players over in the League. I do like him, I think he's a good player. I just haven't seen enough of him yet.
You can follow Daniel on Twitter: @DannyB90