The Columbus Crew recently finished up their final preseason preparations in Charleston, South Carolina, last week as they took part in the Carolina Challenge Cup. The competition contained four teams: the Crew, Chicago Fire, D.C. United, and hometown Charleston Battery. All the games were held at Blackbaud Stadium.
Columbus opened their Carolina travels against the Charleston Battery on February 25th. The game was a back and forth affair, with Columbus giving up two leads before succumbing to a 2-2 tie. Eddie Gaven gave the Crew an early lead in the 6th minute after a nice pass from rookie Ethan Finlay.
Charleston managed to equalize before the half, with a goal by Dane Kelly. Kelly gott on the end of nice cross, beating Andy Gruenebaum in goal. Columbus retook the lead on a Milovan Mirosevic penalty in the 58th minute. Forward Emilio Renteria earned the penalty after colliding with Charlie Romero in the box.
The Crew looked destined to open their 2012 Carolina Challenge Cup account with a win. However, defender Carlos Mendes earned his second yellow card of the game in the 89th minute after a bad tackle. The foul occurred in the box, and Jose Cuevas finished off his good game with a penalty-kick goal, giving Charleston a point with a 2-2 tie.
Here was the Crew’s lineup from the Charleston game:
Columbus Crew – Andy Gruenebaum, Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Carlos Mendes, Shawn Francis (Nemanja Vukovic 46), Eddie Gaven, Tony Tchani (Danny O’Rourke 61), Milovan Mirosevic (Cole Grossman 84), Ethan Finlay (Aaron Horton 82), Olman Vargas (Kirk Urso 46), Emilio Renteria (Tommy Heinemann 70)
The Crew’s second game in the competition came against the Chicago Fire on February 29th. The Fire won, 1-0, with the only goal coming in the 8oth minute. Forward Federico Puppo managed to find the loose ball in front of goal before shooting it over Columbus goalie Andy Gruenebaum and into the net.
Here was the lineup the Crew used during the game against Chicago:
Columbus Crew – Andy Gruenebaum, Sebastian Miranda (Josh Williams, 46), Chad Marshall (Eric Gehrig, 46), Danny O’Rourke (Korey Veeder, 82), Nemanja Vukovic* (Aaron Horton, 73), Eddie Gaven (Shaun Francis, 46), Tony Tchani (Kirk Urso, 82), Milovan Mirosevic (Olman Vargas, 46), Stephane Auvray* (Kevan George, 64), Ethan Finlay, Emilio Renteria (Tommy Heinemann, 46)
Unfortunately for fans, coaches, and players alike, the last game against D.C. United was canceled due to lightning and heavy downpours on March 3rd. According to reports, Warzycha was planning on using this game to test out his preferred starting XI for the regular season.
During their time in the Carolinas, the Crew also managed to find time to play the College of Charleston in a friendly match. The game was held at the Patriots Point Athletic Complex in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Columbus came away 2-0 victors, with goals coming from Olman Vargas and Eric Gehrig. Vargas’ goal came on a header from a Korey Veeder free kick in the 54th minute, and Gehrig’s goal came from a Kirk Urso free kick in the 71st minute.
Here was the lineup Columbus used in the friendly:
Columbus Crew – Matt Lampson, Sebastian Miranda (Korey Veeder, 35), Chad Marshall (Josh Williams, 35), Danny O’Rourke (Kirk Urso, 60), Nemanja Vukovic* (Sean Francis, 46), Eddie Gaven (Jamie Finch, 35), Tony Tchani (Eric Gehrig, 35), Kirk Urso (Kevan George, 46), Ethan Finlay (Aaron Horton, 35), Milovan Mirosevic (Tommy Heinemann, 35), Emilio Renteria (Olman Vargas, 35)
Trialist Nemanja Vukovic filled in at left-back in South Carolina. He was brought in to possibly fight for a starting spot over Shaun Francis. The Crew haven’t signed him to a deal yet.
In more Crew news, SuperDraft pick Aubrey Perry and Supplemental Draft pick Kirk Ursowere signed to contracts this week. Perry, a right-back, will provide depth for Columbus at that position. Urso, on the other hand, has impressed during the preseason and may be fighting for a spot in the middle of the field.
Irish rock band Flogging Molly will perform at Crew Stadium after the home game against the Chicago Fire on May 26th. They will play a full-length show, all free for those with tickets to the game. Drummer George Schwindt graduated from Ohio State University and has been a Crew season-ticket holder for the past five years.