COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Crew will once again enjoy a packed schedule this week, as they return home to Crew Stadium for an ESPN Thursday Night Primetime match-up against the Kansas City Wizards, then welcome English Premier League squad West Ham United in an international exhibition on Sunday (July 20).
This week's MLS match features a Crew squad (8-5-3, 27 pts.) that currently sits alone in second place in the Eastern Conference, with Major League Soccer's second-best record, while the Wizards (5-5-5, 20 pts.) enter Thursday's match looking to climb the standings as they currently sit tied with New York for sixth place in the East.
Thursday's match kicks off at 8 p.m. and will be televised live nationally on ESPN. The game can also be heard in English on News/Talk 610 WTVN with Dwight Burgess and John Bluem behind the microphone and Neil Sika providing sideline coverage and on-line at theCrew.com and MLSNet.com, as well as in Spanish on La Que Buena 1550-AM.
Kansas City enters this week's match after defeating New York, 2-1, last Thursday (July 10), extending its unbeaten streak to four games. Jimmy Conrad scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season and Davy Arnaud added his first for the Wizards, each coming early in each half. Juan Pablo Angel countered for the Red Bulls in the 71st minute and the visitors nearly grabbed a late equalizer, but the Wizards were able to hold on for their second consecutive win at home. Kansas City recently announced the signing of U.S. Men's National Team forward Josh Wolff, who rejoins the club after two seasons with 1860 Munich in the German Second Bundesliga. In his previous stint, Wolff played 80 games with the Wizards from 2003-2006, registering 27 goals and 20 assists. He will be available for selection in Thursday's match in Columbus.
Columbus heads into the weekend's match after experiencing a 2-0 setback last weekend (July 12) at Real Salt Lake. The Crew was unable to overcome Javier Morales' free kick goal in the 4th minute, and Robbie Findley put the game away for RSL late in the proceedings, keeping Salt Lake undefeated at Rice-Eccles Stadium this season.
Thursday's match will be the first of two scheduled Thursday Night Primetime match-ups for the Crew on the ESPN family of networks this season. It will host the New York Red Bulls at Crew Stadium on September 18 on ESPN2.
Sunday's friendly will kick off at 5:00 p.m. and be classified as 'Special Game C' for Crew Soccer Nation Gold members (full-season ticket packages). Tickets are available at the Crew Stadium Box Office, all central Ohio Ticketmaster retail locations, via Ticketmaster phone at 614-431-3600 and on-line at TheCrew.com.
West Ham United, whose origins can be traced back to 1895, are an established English Premier League club who have just finished the 2007/08 season in a creditable tenth place out of the 20 participating teams. Managed by Alan Curbishley, the Hammers boast an array of international stars. Among them are England players Robert Green, Matthew Upson and Dean Ashton, the captains of Sweden, Australia and Wales in Freddie Ljungberg, Lucas Neill and Craig Bellamy and US men's national team defender Jonathan Spector.
West Ham United features one of soccer's most recognizable jerseys, with the claret body and sky blue sleeves. The team is affectionately known as the "Hammers," a reference to its origin as the company team for Thames Ironworks. Famed for producing the three players that 'won' England the 1966 World Cup - namely Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst - West Ham United have a history and tradition for playing attacking football that is recognised the world over. Recent graduates of the club's famed academy system include Manchester United duo Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick and the Chelsea pair of Frank Lampard and Joe Cole - and there are signs that more exciting young talent is coming through the ranks in east London.
In the first match of its international series, The Crew got second-half goals from Robbie Rogers and Jason Garey to defeat Club Atletico Independiente of Argentina, 2-1, on July 9 at Crew Stadium. The win improved the Crew's all-time record in international exhibitions to 10-2-2. It was the Black & Gold's first-ever match against an Argentine club.
Following the match in Columbus, West Ham will travel to Toronto where it will provide the opposition for the MLS stars in the Pepsi MLS All-Star Game at BMO Field on Thursday, July 24.
COLUMBUS CREW vs. Kansas City
Thursday, July 17 - 8 p.m. (ET) at Crew Stadium
National Television: ESPN; Local Television: N/A
National Radio: ESPN Deportes
Crew Radio: News/Talk 610 WTVN (English); La Que Buena 1550-AM (Spanish)
Crew Webcasts: N/A
COLUMBUS CREW vs. West Ham United
Sunday, July 20 - 5 p.m. (ET) at Crew Stadium
National Television: N/A; Local Television: N/A
Crew Radio: N/A; Crew Webcasts: N/A
CREW PLAYERS AMONG LEAGUE STATISTICAL LEADERS
Several Crew players find themselves among the league statistical leaders so far in the 2008 season. Forward Alejandro Moreno finds himself tied for fifth in MLS in goals scored (6), while midfielder Robbie Rogers finds himself among the league's best in several categories, as he currently ranks third in shots (50) and is tied for fourth in shots on goal (24). Rogers is also tied for second in MLS in multi-goal games, with two on the season. Guillermo Barros Schelotto is also enjoying a standout 2008 season, as he currently leads the league in assists with eight and also leads MLS in corner kicks by a wide margin with 88 on the season.
CREW FEATURE THREE OF THE LEAGUE'S SIX MOST-FOULED PLAYERS
The Crew's roster features three of the six most-fouled players in Major League Soccer - Alejandro Moreno currently sits second with 44, while Guillermo Barros Schelotto sits just behind Moreno with 43 fouls suffered. Midfielder Robbie Rogers is currently tied for fourth, with 37 fouls suffered this season.
AST DEW TOUR TO VISIT CREW STADIUM THURSDAY NIGHT PRIOR TO MATCH
This Thursday, July 17, prior to the Crew's Primetime Thursday match-up against Kansas City, the AST Dew Tour will make a special appearance at Crew Stadium. The Mongoose Bike Demo Stunt Team will perform prior to the game, doing tricks similar to what you can see at North Coast Harbor in Cleveland on July 18-20. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.
NOWAK TO NAME OLYMPIC ROSTER THURSDAY
U.S. Men's Olympic Team head coach Peter Nowak will announce his 18-player squad at 1 p.m. ET this Thursday, July 17, six days ahead of the July 23 deadline that is mandated by FIFA. The roster will be made available on ussoccer.com and thanks to his strong start with the Crew this season, midfielder Robbie Rogers is expected to be in contention for selection to the 18-man squad. The U.S. will begin their final preparation for the Beijing Olympics on Sunday, July 20, with six days of domestic training in San Jose. The team will then depart for Hong Kong, where they will participate in the ING Cup, facing fellow Olympic participants Ivory Coast on July 30 and Cameroon on Aug. 2. The fourth participant at the ING Cup, the Netherlands, will not face the U.S., as the teams were both drawn into a difficult Group B of the Olympics along with Nigeria and Japan. After the tournament, the U.S. will depart Hong Kong for Tianjin, where they will play their two opening matches of the Olympics against Japan on Aug. 7 and Nigeria on Aug. 10. The U.S. will play their final Group B match in Beijing on Aug. 13 against the Netherlands.
McCULLERS TO PARTICIPATE IN SPORTS COMMISSION'S 'MORNING SPORTS REPORT' TOMORROW, JULY 16
Crew President and General Manager Mark McCullers will be among the special guests on hand as the Greater Columbus Sports Commission celebrates the work of the sports commission and its partners to bring professional, collegiate, amateur and youth sporting events to Central Ohio on Wednesday, July 16, at The Morning Sports Report. The event takes place from 7:15-9:15 a.m., at the Arena District Hyatt Regency. A Fan Fair featuring a variety of the city's sports teams and organizations will be held from 7:15-8 a.m., with the program beginning at 8 a.m. Among the other sports celebrities on hand at the Sports Commission event will be: New England Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel, sports analyst Kirk Herbstreit, Ken Schnacke, general manager of the Columbus Clippers, Scott Howson, general manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets; Ohio State men's wrestling coach Tom Ryan; and Jim Renacci, owner of the Columbus Destroyers. Jeff Hogan of WBNS-10TV will emcee the morning's festivities and Bruce Hooley of 1460 The Fan will host.
CREW SOCCER ACADEMY U-18s OPEN PLAY IN ACADEMY FINALS IN CALIFORNIA
The Crew Soccer Academy Under-18 squad kicked off play in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Finals in Carson, Calif. over the weekend, as it defeated CASL, 2-0, Saturday (July 12) in its opening game in group play, thanks to goals by Thomas Schmitt and Mike Green. The team had Sunday off then took on LAFC Monday (July 14) in its second contest. The Crew and LAFC tied, 1-1, in front of a large crowd on the grounds of HDC, with the Crew's goal coming from Green in the fourth minute. The Crew and LAFC are now tied atop the Group B standings with four points apiece, followed by Concorde Fire (3 pts.) and CASL (0 pts.). The Crew will take on Concorde Fire Wednesday, July 16, in its third and final match in group play. Before the opening eight games were played during the first two days of the Finals, the 320 players took part in an orientation on Friday night (July 11) that included a discussion about a wide range of topics, including the process of becoming a professional player, how to consider options about their careers, and overcoming some of the successes and failures in their personal journey. The conference winners from each age group have been divided into two groups of four and participate in a round-robin format during the first six days of Finals Week. The teams will then crossover and play placement matches on Friday, July 18, and Saturday, July 19. All eight placement matches will be broadcast live during the two days on the ESPN family of networks, highlighted by the U-17/18 championship match that will be live on ESPN2 on Friday, July 18, at 11 p.m. ET. The seven other matches, including the U-15/16 championship match, will be broadcast live on ESPNU.
CREW SOCCER FOUNDATION REFEREE SCHOLARS TO BE RECOGNIZED AT THURSDAY'S GAME
Participants in the Crew Soccer Foundation's inaugural Referee Scholarship class will be recognized prior to Thursday's match vs. K.C. and members of the CSF Board of Directors will be on hand to congratulate them. With the goal of advancing the sport and helping young people to supplement their income through the great game of soccer, the Crew Soccer Foundation launched a Referee Scholarship program in 2008, after months of development. The program is targeted at youth who have the desire, but not the financial means to obtain their referee training, certification and uniform. Thirteen Columbus residents between the ages of 14 and 18 made up the inaugural class. Each of the scholars had an interest in becoming a referee or advancing his or her referee training. Upon successful completion of a certification course at Gladden Community House in Columbus with instructors from the Columbus Area Soccer Officials Association (CASOA), each scholar received a referee kit that consists of yellow shirt, black shorts, black socks, whistles, book, yellow/red cards, two flags and a sports watch. Scholars will now be assigned to recreational and/or competitive youth matches by CASOA, which will also serve as a mentoring resource.