Columbus Crew SC opens its 2019 preseason slate against J-League side Vissel Kobe and its star-studded squad, which has presented a unique opportunity for one Crew player in particular.
Growing up an FC Barcelona supporter, Crew midfielder Luis Argudo spoke on the prospect of playing against his idol growing up, Andres Iniesta, and the general excitement around commencing preseason training, starting with a friendly against Vissel Kobe on Jan. 28.
“Since I was young, [Barcelona] was my favorite team, and just watching players come out of the academy – Xavi was one of my favorites – but he was getting old, and then I’m like ‘alright, who’s new?’” Argudo said. “And then Iniesta came, and just the way he plays, he’s in a league of his own.”
Notably, former FC Barcelona legend and NYCFC player David Villa will now feature for Vissel Kobe alongside Iniesta, as will 33-year-old German international Lukas Poldolski.
As for Argudo, who grew up on the turf fields in Queens, N.Y., Iniesta’s simplicity was what stood out to him.
“I look at his positioning, how fast he gets the ball out, how fast he releases it. Just simple stuff,” Argudo said.
“He’s such a simple player, but the stuff he does is just unreal. He can take players 1v1, he can make the pass, score amazing goals, so for me he’s just one of the best players that have ever played the game.”
In his time at Barcelona, Iniesta claimed no less than 32 trophies from 2002-2018, having won four UEFA Champions Leagues, nine La Liga titles, and six Copas del Rey, to highlight a few.
Aside from the chance to play against his childhood idol, Argudo spoke on what he’s looking forward to in preseason.
“Right now, just getting off of turf and onto grass is going to be amazing, and obviously San Diego and the better weather, but just getting to know the new guys and just being with the team more,” Argudo said.
The Black & Gold kick off against Vissel Kobe, which finished 10th out of 18 (12-13-9) in Japan’s topflight last season, on Monday, Jan. 28 at 10 p.m. ET from Championship Soccer Stadium at the OC Great Park in Irvine, Calif.