International Soccer Network

"Your Source for the Beautiful Game"

The Beautiful Game According to McBride

A player like Brian McBride comes around once in a lifetime.  The prolific striker got the job done in every situation at every level, whether it was winning games for the Columbus Crew, scoring goals for the U.S. Men’s National Team or playing with England’s best at Fulham.

Photo Credit: Allstate/Taylor Strategy

Allstate, one of the nation’s leading supporters of American soccer, has wisely teamed up with McBride to help promote awareness for the beautiful game.  It’s such an important time, being a World Cup year and a period of unprecedented growth at all levels of the sport.

He praised the work of the insurance giant and other corporate sponsors as being a major part of the sport’s growth, providing funding for infrastructure and programs as well as exposing new people to the game.

Allstate’s Good Hands FC event, known for doing good all across the country, was rolled out to help California youth players, this time with McBride running drills, answering questions, and most importantly sharing his love of the game.   Every player left with new gear and tickets, something that was much-needed and greatly appreciated.

McBride was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk with us about the national team, the Columbus Crew, and the future of the American game.

One of the most deadly finishers in national team history (third highest all-time to be exact), McBride shared his excitement for this weekend’s match.

Photo Credit: Allstate/Taylor Strategy

He stated that he was looking forward to seeing what ideas the team has formed after a month of training. As a former player, he knows they are looking forward to playing in a competitive match in front of fans here in the States.  He also mentioned that this weekend’s match is a good opportunity for players that might not have gotten a chance to impress Klinsmann.

When asked about a prediction of the score vs. Korea, McBride confidently said, “The U.S. will win.”

He was also very realistic about the challenges facing the USMNT at the World Cup.

“It was made more difficult because of the group.  The first game is the all- important one.  We need a result.”

He was quick to praise the positive work of the national team players and staff, saying that there were lots of positives headed into the World Cup.  He pointed out that the team is more dynamic than 2o10 and that their versatility could prove to be problematic for opposing sides.

He was optimistic about the performances of Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore, and Tim Howard.  He believes that Altidore has added another dimension to his game despite struggling at top-flight Sunderland.

The growth of MLS was another hot topic of discussion.  McBride admitted that tremendous growth has occurred and finally MLS is buying American players back to play in the States.

“You don’t have to go overseas anymore.  Every individual has to make that personal decision.  They will certainly be challenged over there, but they now have options.”

Keeping talented players here at home is always a positive development.

We couldn’t resist asking him about one of his former teams the Columbus Crew.  He admitted being friends with both former head coach Robert Warzycha and new coaches Gregg Berhalter and Josh Wolff.  He was one of the first to talk about the hard decisions that led to Robert leaving the club and how that is an unfortunate part of professional sports.  It shows the amount of respect McBride has for the game and a former teammate, a class act all the way around.

He praised the new coaching and technical staff as being very positive, thoughtful, and methodical.  He also was quick to describe the new ownership in terms of being committed, passionate, and having a desire to push the Crew to a new level.

“Columbus is a special place to play soccer. There are very few places like it in all of MLS.  They have a great opportunity to do something special there.”

We wrapped up our discussion with his thoughts on improving the American game as a whole.  He talked about the improving the knowledge aspect of player development, having a “soccer brain” so to speak.

“Soccer is a team sport.  It’s important to have awareness and understanding of what is happening around you.  Making the right decisions is 90% of the game.”

McBride also was supportive of academy systems throughout the U.S., saying he liked anything that “promoted the current virtues of the sport.”  He feels that programs must have the best interest of the game in mind.  Clubs that focus only on making money are losing the core objective.

It was a great opportunity for all of us here at ISN.  You don’t get to speak to an American soccer legend everyday.  Thanks to the people at Allstate, this has become a lot more commonplace and we are certainly thankful for that.

Columbus Crew Announces Affiliate Partnership With Dayton Dutch Lions FC Of USL PRO

The Columbus Crew today announced that the club has formed an affiliate partnership with Dayton Dutch Lions FC of USL PRO. The agreement between the two Ohio teams enables the Crew to loan a minimum of four players on its Major League Soccer roster to Dayton for the 2014 USL PRO campaign.

Photo Credit: Dayton Dutch Lions

“We are proud to unveil our new partnership with Dayton Dutch Lions FC,” said Columbus Crew President Mark McCullers. “We have known the Dutch Lions organization since they came to Ohio. This partnership creates a formal alliance that encompasses player development at its heart but also allows the Columbus Crew to partner with Dayton Dutch Lions FC in growing our respective fan bases and brands.”

Founded in 2009, Dayton Dutch Lions FC played one season in the United Soccer Leagues’ Premier Development League before moving-up a division in time for the merger and creation of USL PRO in 2010, forming the third tier of the American soccer pyramid. Dayton is partners with Dutch Eredivisie side FC Twente. Just as the Black & Gold have become staple colors for the Crew, Dutch Lions FC is easily recognized by its orange uniforms in their home matches in Beavercreek, Ohio.

“The partnership is exciting from both a marketing perspective as well as a technical point of view,” said Dayton Dutch Lions FC President Mike Mossel. “On the marketing side, the Columbus Crew has built a very strong soccer brand in Ohio and has a great group of fans not only in Columbus, but also in Dayton and Cincinnati. The partnership brings recognition, professionalism and opportunities to market both clubs in Ohio.”

Mossel continues, “On the technical side, we will be adding several good Crew players to our USL PRO team to become a strong team in the League. On the other hand, we give talented Crew players a competitive platform to develop themselves and return as better, more experienced players in MLS.“

The Crew becomes the sixth club in MLS to form an affiliate partnership with a USL PRO side, joining the Houston Dynamo, Sporting Kansas City, the New England Revolution, Philadelphia Union and D.C. United.

The complete list of Crew players to be sent on loan to Dayton will be announced at a later date.

“This affiliation with Dayton is an important step in developing our younger players. We believe it’s beneficial for them to play competitive games at a high level, and this agreement accomplishes that goal for us,” said Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “This move is specifically targeted toward players that we think have a bright future but won’t necessarily see immediate playing time in MLS, or those players that need to recapture their best form. We’re excited about this affiliation, we like the direction Dayton is heading as an organization and believe that this relationship will strengthen our squad.”

USL PRO is a 13-club League in the third tier in the United States soccer pyramid. As part of the partnership between MLS and USL PRO announced in January of 2013, MLS teams have the opportunity to partner with a USL PRO side, sending a minimum of four players to a USL PRO affiliate to develop and gain match experience.

Prior to the agreement between the two clubs, the Crew and Dutch Lions FC competed in matches that counted in Major League Soccer Reserve League play for the Crew and the USL PRO standings for Dayton. With the current agreement, the Crew will not participate in the MLS Reserve League in 2014 and the two teams would only potentially face each other in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup meeting or in a friendly.

“For us this is the one piece that was missing in being a gateway to professional soccer,” said Dayton Dutch Lions FC Head Coach Sid van Druenen. “After we recently added Cincinnati Dutch Lions FC to play in the PDL, we now offer kids a path from playing in our Dayton Academy to PDL, and then for college players to play professionally on three different pro levels: USL PRO, MLS and European football with FC Twente. This will be a big boost for our club across the board, from the professional ranks to our academy teams.”

Crew Re-Signs Josh Williams; Adds Waylon Francis and Homegrown Player Matt Wiet

The Columbus Crew announced today that it has added three defenders ahead of the 2014 season by re-signing Josh Williams and adding Costa Rican leftback Waylon Francis and Columbus native Matt Wiet as the club’s sixth Homegrown Player. Williams and Wiet have been immediately added to the roster while Francis – who will occupy an international slot as a Discovery Signing – will be officially added to the club’s roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) and P-1 Visa. Per Major League Soccer and club policy, details of the three contracts were not disclosed.

“This is exciting news for the club and all three players are strong additions to the team,” said Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “Josh is a player with experience and a lot of potential, and we’re excited to have him re-join the club knowing that he can develop into a high-level MLS player. Waylon and Matt also have bright futures. Waylon is an outstanding leftback and one of the best in the Costa Rican league, and he’s going to help on the left side of our defense. Matt is a talented young player from our youth development system that we look forward to working with soon.”

Photo Credit: Jeff Gossel/

Williams has made 57 appearances – including 52 starts – since signing with the Black & Gold at the end of the 2010 season. His 2013 campaign saw him earn 27 appearances, mainly at rightback, recording three goals – the most of any Crew defender – all from set pieces. He scored his first goal of the season – and second career goal – on an 88th-minute tally at Chivas USA on March 2 before scoring his second goal of the year at D.C on March 23. His third tally of the season was his first career strike at Crew Stadium as the defender buried a Federico Higuain corner kick in the match against D.C. United on April 27. Williams is a native of Northeast Ohio and a product of Cleveland State University.

Francis joins the Crew from CS Herediano in Costa Rica’s topflight Primera Division. He began his professional career in the 2010-2011 summer campaign with Brujas FC, where he earned nine starts and recorded two assists at the age of 20. Staying in the Primera Division with Limón FC in the 2011-2012 summer campaign, Francis doubled his career appearances, making 18 starts. Most recently, the Puerto Limón, Costa Rica native then joined CS Herediano ahead of the 2012-2013 winter season. With CS Herediano, Francis made 65 regular-season appearances with the first-division squad and helped the club capture its second consecutive summer championship title in 2013, it’s 23rd in the Primera Division.

In two runs in the CONCACAF Champions League, Francis has made nine appearances and has faced MLS sides Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy, the latter of which Francis’ clubs squared-off against in the 2012-2013 Quarterfinals. Internationally, Francis earned his first career cap in group play of the 2013 Copa Centroamericana in the 2-0 win against Nicaragua on January 21, 2013 en route to Costa Rica’s seventh title, which launched the national side to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Wiet – the Worthington Kilbourne High School graduate – joins the Crew after a stint with USL-PRO side Dayton Dutch Lions. With the signing, he becomes the Crew’s sixth Homegrown Player. In 2013, the Crew set a club record for the most Homegrown Players in a starting lineup when Matt Lampson, Chad Barson, Wil Trapp and Ben Speas started at Real Salt Lake on August 24. Wiet played one year collegiately at the University of Indiana before transferring to UCLA, where he became a standout defender in his final three seasons. While at Indiana, he earned unanimous selection to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team before being voted UCLA’s Defensive MVP in his sophomore season in 2010. He would repeat the same honor as a Bruin in his junior campaign and added Second Team All-Pac-12 status. In his senior season, he earned First-Team NSCAA All-Far West Region honors, becoming the first UCLA player since 1998 to earn that distinction three years in a row. Wiet logged four starts in his first shortened season with USL-PRO side Dayton in July 2013.

In high school, Wiet was named a two-time All-Ohio and All-District honoree and OSSCA First Team selection and played for the Crew Soccer Academy, reaching the U.S. Soccer Under-18 Development Academy National Tournament Semifinals, finishing the 2008 campaign ranked third nationally.

The Crew begins the 2014 season at D.C. United on Saturday, March 8. Before then, the club continues preparation for both stages of the MLS Re-Entry Draft, the 2014 MLS SuperDraft and preseason training.

Crew Roster Begins to Take Shape

The Columbus Crew announced today that it has exercised the contract options on 14 players from its 2013 roster, while four others were already under contract for next season, giving the club a roster that currently features 18 players.

The Crew picked-up the options of goalkeepers Matt Lampson and Daniel Withrow; defenders Chad Barson, Eric Gehrig and Tyson Wahl; midfielders Bernardo Anor, Ethan Finlay, Kevan George, Justin Meram, Shawn Sloan, Ben Speas and Tony Tchani; and forwards Ryan Finley and Aaron Schoenfeld.

The Black & Gold simultaneously announced that it has declined the contract options of defenders Drew Beckie, Glauber, Kyle Hyland; defender/midfielder Danny O’Rourke; midfielder Konrad Warzycha; and forward Jairo Arrieta. Contract options were also declined on midfielder Matias Sanchez and forward Aaron Horton, a move that was previously announced in October. Both players are eligible for next week’s MLS Waiver Draft, taking place on Monday, November 25.

“The process of building our 2014 roster is now underway,” said Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “Unfortunately, as part of that process difficult decisions are required. While we’ve declined options on certain players, we will continue conversations with those individuals to potentially return to the club next season. We look forward to shaping the team in the weeks ahead of preseason training camp.”

O’Rourke is eligible for the MLS Re-Entry Process, which begins after MLS Cup on December 7. A full list of players eligible for the Re-Entry Process will be announced by MLS at a later date.

Goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum, forward Dominic Oduro and defender Josh Williams are out of contract. The Crew is currently in discussions with all three players, and future roster announcements will be made in the coming weeks.

The Crew’s current roster follows:

Goalkeepers (2): Matt Lampson, Daniel Withrow

Defenders (5): Chad Barson, Eric Gehrig, Chad Marshall, Agustin Viana, Tyson Wahl

Midfielders (8): Bernardo Anor, Ethan Finlay, Kevan George, Justin Meram, Shawn Sloan, Ben Speas, Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp

Forwards (3): Federico Higuain, Ryan Finley, Aaron Schoenfeld

Crew Names Asher Mendelsohn Director Of Soccer Operations And Josh Wolff As Assistant Coach

The Columbus Crew announced today that it has hired Asher Mendelsohn as Director of Soccer Operations and Josh Wolff as Assistant Coach. Effective immediately, Mendelsohn departs U.S. Soccer as Director of Referees, Coaching Administration and Development Academy Programs while Wolff completes his tenure as Assistant Coach for D.C. United, the club where he finished his 15-year professional playing career. Per club and MLS policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed and further staffing updates will be provided when available.

Photo Credit: U.S. Soccer

Mendelsohn is tasked with overseeing the Crew’s competition guidelines and salary cap management, player identification and acquisitions, as well as assisting with the implementation of the club’s technical vision. Wolff becomes the first Assistant Coach to join Berhalter’s staff, as the former U.S. Men’s National Team and Major League Soccer veteran brings a wealth of playing and coaching experience to the Black & Gold.

“With these two additions to the staff, I feel that we are adding strong pieces to the technical side of our organization,” said Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “Both Asher and Josh have been involved with U.S. Soccer at the highest levels for many years and they cover a broad range of experience.”

Bringing nine years of experience with the U.S. Soccer Federation, Mendelsohn first served as Member Services Coordinator for two years before the creation of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, which emerged in 2007 as the top-tier for the nation’s youth soccer ranks. He transitioned to a role as Manager of the Development Academy for three years before accepting the expansive position of Director of Referees, Coaching Administration and Development Academy Programs, a job he held for more than four years. In 2012, he was instrumental in Major League Soccer’s formation of the Professional Referee Organization (PRO), the group responsible for managing the referee program in professional soccer leagues in the United States and Canada.

“Asher is very familiar with the soccer landscape of America, having worked at different levels in U.S. Soccer,” said Berhalter. “He’s bright, hard-working and brings an analytical mind that will be integral to our technical staff.”

Wolff joins Berhalter’s staff after two seasons as an Assistant Coach on Ben Olsen’s staff at D.C. United following his retirement in the Nation’s Capital after 15 years in professional soccer, both domestically and abroad. He began his career with the Chicago Fire in the club’s 1998 inaugural – and MLS Cup-winning – season and in just 14 matches scored eight goals, tying him with the Crew’s Jeff Cunningham for a then-MLS rookie scoring record. Wolff would stay with the Men in Red through the end of the 2002 season and took home the 1998 and 2000 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles before he was traded to Kansas City. Wolff posted back-to-back 10-goal seasons in 2004 and 2005 and secured a third U.S. Open Cup title with the then-Wizards in 2004.

Photo Credit: D.C. United

In 2007, Wolff signed with Germany’s 1860 Munich and played two seasons alongside Berhalter, who captained the club from 2006-2009. Wolff returned to Kansas City in 2008 and in 2011 was picked-up by D.C. United, where he finished his career before a transitioning to the Black-and-Red’s coaching staff in 2012.

“In Josh, we are adding a coach with a very good eye for offensive development,” continued Berhalter. “He will complement the coaching staff nicely as he’s a young coach with a bright mind and a playing career that demonstrated his intelligence on the field.”

Internationally, Wolff earned 52 caps with the United States Men’s National Team from 1999-2008 and scored nine goals. Wolff helped put Crew Stadium on the map globally in 2001 when he subbed-on for injured Crew legend Brian McBride in the 15th minute and proceeded to score the game-winning goal and recorded an assist in the inaugural “Dos a Cero” victory over Mexico in FIFA World Cup Qualifying, held on February 28, 2001 in sub-freezing temperatures.

Mendelsohn and Wolff are Berhalter’s first hires as Sporting Director and Head Coach of the Crew, as the club prepares for the 2014 Major League Soccer campaign. For complete details on these hires, the club and 2014 season tickets – which start at just $13 per match – visit