Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Columbus

A few weeks ago, you could write what I knew about Columbus, Ohio on the back of a postage stamp.

In thick, black marker pen.

Now, having been to the city, that’s no longer the case.

You could probably get away with just a biro now…

Having said that, I can at least tell you a little about their soccer team. And it ain’t half bad.

Champions of their division last season, they went on to become MLS Champions, beating New York Red Bulls 3-1 in the final. And the man who set up all three goals that day, Argentine maestro Guillermo Barros Schelloto, was named the league’s Most Valuable Player shortly after.

The team is managed by former Everton midfielder Robert Warzycha, with MLS winning coach Sigi Schmid leaving for Seattle at the end of last season. Incidentally, Schmid doesn’t appear to have lost the midas touch, with the Sounders kicking off the 2009 in fairly formidable style.

But Warzycha obviously knows a good thing when he sees one, keeping changes over the close season to a minimum and hoping for some continuity from the champions.

One man hoping to force a change in the team, however, is Scottish midfielder Adam Moffat.

The former Elgin City & Ross County midfielder set the ball rolling (literally) in 2008, scoring the first MLS goal of the season and quickly became a fan favourite with the Crew. But a knee injury, from which he is only just recovering, cut short the 22 year-old’s season early in the campaign. And to make things worse, he picked up a slight hip injury late in pre-season.

With the Crew’s attempt to retain the MLS crown already underway, Moffat faces a battle to get fit and fight for his place in the side. But he’s relishing the challenge.

“It’s going to be an exciting battle”, Moffat told me after receiving treatment for his latest knock. “Last year was a wonderful one for the Crew, and this year it will be even harder as teams will be gunning for the champions. It’s really enjoyable here, and I just hope to get more involved in it this year.”

Entering his third season with the Crew, Moffat says he has noticed changes in the game, even since he arrived in Ohio.

“The crowds are louder, and the fans are getting in to it more (than when I arrived)”, says Moffat now. “It is definitely growing, and you see banners, flags, signs in restaurants and everything now, which I don’t think you would have five or 10 years ago”.

Moffat’s story, like many of the Scots in Major League Soccer, has taken him from lower league British football to top level in the US. And the fact that his club side are champions will make it all the more difficult for the Scotsman to break in to the side.

As for what else I have learned about Columbus? Well, every February the city hosts the Arnold Classic (or Arnold fitness weekend), a bodybuilding event named in honour of Californian governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. If only I had been here a month earlier…..

5 comments:

  1. If you REALLY want to get to know what the Columbus Crew is all about you really need to join the Hudson Street Hooligans and all of the other Crew fans on the Nordecke during a game!

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  2. You could have mentioned that if it wasn't for Cleveland City then the Crew would have never even discovered Adam. He's an outstanding player and a fine young man.

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  3. The thing about Columbus is you have to remember that it's a football town (American football that is). It's home to the largest university in the US at 53,000 students (which is the size of a decent city) and the football is very well known and extremely good and has been for a very long time. This is the sport that gets the majority of the recognition in this city, but the fact that more people are noticing the Crew and going to games is great. It will take a long time until the Crew gets proper recognition from the city, but they are getting there. Competing with the Buckeyes (American football team) and the Blue Jackets (NHL hockey) is tough for them.

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  4. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

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