Crew defender Rich Balchan trains ahead of their CONCACAF match vs. Salt Lake.
Courtesy of Columbus Crew

Entrance Exam: Q&A with Crew rookie Balchan continues testing incoming rookies, and today is the turn for Columbus Crew defender Rich Balchan to take the hot seat in the fourth installment of Entrance Exam.

A first round pick out of Indiana University, the rookie is already blooded and bloodied – he played in both legs of the Crew’s 4-1 aggregate loss to Real Salt Lake in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. What’s been the most unexpected difference between MLS and college thus far?

Rich Balchan: I would just say that, really, everything at this level is so much different. It’s so much hard work and each lost possession means so much work. You have to minimize your unnecessary running and just concentrate on good positioning. Which veterans have provided you the most guidance and in what way?

Balchan: I would say Danny O'Rourke. He’s an obvious choice, really, because he’s an Indiana alum. He kind of makes sure to share things with you, to talk you through practice, and to give you some pointers. Like before the first Salt Lake game, he told me how some of their players play, like how [Javier] Morales plays, so he helps out that way.

[inline_node:326006] It’s the MLS Cup final. It’s tied and it’s heading to penalties. Do you want to be one of the five penalty-takers?

Balchan: Honestly, I haven’t taken penalty kicks in the past, so probably not. I mean, I’m confident doing that, but I didn’t take them in college, so probably not. So you’re not a goalscorer, but should you get one, have you come up with a goal celebration yet or will you go spontaneous?

Balchan: I don’t have one planned out yet. I’m sure [rookie teammate Justin Meram, a striker] has a goal celebration planned out, so maybe we could collaborate and do something special. So you’re not planning on doing the Dougie.

Balchan: Yeah, you know, I could do that. That’s too ordinary, though. Anyone could do that. I’d rather mix it up. Well, I hope you get one then because I want to see what you come up with.

Balchan: Maybe some kind of disco dance or something, something no one else would do. You know this is being published, right? Your veteran teammates are going to see this and they’re going to force you to do it.

Balchan: [Laughs] They should probably join in. It’ll be good. Is there anything you’d like to say to the hardcore fans in the Nordecke?

Balchan: Basically, the main thing is to trust what the front office has done and trust that we’re working hard every day. We’ve made great strides this preseason and I think we should be pretty good this season.

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