Three friendlies into preseason, the Columbus Crew SC rookies have finally had a chance to not only gather themselves but loosen up on the pitch.
In speaking with a couple Crew members who went through that newcomer experience recently, as well as one who’s been around the block, it’s about concocting attitude and effort, listening and battling, and being a sponge while trying to set an example.
“I heard this a lot last year; ‘just be patient, your time is gonna come,'" said Luis Argudo, a Third-Round selection of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft. “Try to soak up as much as you can. If someone has any type of advice, listen.”
At the same time, Argudo said, don’t not bring an edge to your game.
“I wouldn’t say, ‘don’t have a chip on your shoulder,’ you should, you are a professional now and you have to play like you are,” Argudo said. “Help the team out as much as you can. If the coach wants you to play this position but it’s not yours, you got to do it for the team.”
Veteran midfielder Ricardo Clark, who came into Major League Soccer as the second overall selection in the 2003 MLS SuperDraft, emphasized less talking, more doing.
“I’m not one to talk too much…but the way I go about it is leading by example, especially in regard to how I go about my profession,” Clark said. “That’s the main way I try to show the young guys. So, in regard to how I take care of my body, how I treat my job, how I try not to take this job for granted too much because it only lasts so long. That’s how I go about showing younger players how to do it.”
As for Eddie Opoku’s advice, just be yourself.
“Let things fall into place, don’t try too hard, don’t try to do something that’s not your thing, just do what you’re capable of doing,” advised Opoku, who was selected 32nd overall in the 2018 SuperDraft. “I’ve been speaking to the guys, and saying ‘just enjoy the moment, make sure you’re working hard, and you are being thankful of the opportunity.’
“But all the guys [the technical staff] bring in, they are all wonderful guys and they are all very close and it’s like a family. It starts from the supporters to the players; it’s just the culture. It’s an unbelievable place to be.”
The Black & Gold’s next family outing comes on Feb. 16 against the Chicago Fire as part of the 2019 Carolina Challenge Cup. The match, which is the first of three in an eight-day span, kicks off at 5 p.m. ET at MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston, S.C.