Part of Stoke City’s preparation for the new English Premier League season includes a mini-tour of the United States. Their first American stop is Columbus, Ohio, where they face off against the Crew on Tuesday night at 7:30 in a friendly match. Stoke will be working toward improving their low, but respectable, 14th place finish from last year in the top flight of English soccer.
Stoke City brings almost 150 years of soccer history to Columbus. Although founded in 1863, the Potters have only won one major trophy. They defeated Chelsea in the 1972 Football League Cup Final, 2-1. Stoke also recently made the FA Cup final in 2011, losing 1-0 to Manchester City. Traveling with the team and expected to play are England international Peter Crouch, Trinidad and Tobago international Kenwyne Jones, and throw-in specialist Rory Delap.
Forward Peter Crouch is Stoke’s most well known player, as well as their most successful. The lanky blonde has over twenty goals for the English national team and has played for Tottenham, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Queens Park Rangers, and Portsmouth during his career, among others. Crouch was Stoke’s leading scorer in the EPL last season with 10.
Columbus’ schedule has been pretty full recently. The first team came away with a 1-0 home victory over D.C. United on Saturday, followed by a 4-1 reserve win over United the next morning.
Since the Crew didn’t have any players make the game-day roster for the MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday, all healthy players will be available to play against Stoke. Captain Chad Marshall left the game Saturday with an ankle injury and will be the most recent addition to the injury list.
Expect most of the Crew’s players to see around 45 minutes on Tuesday. Depending on how many subs are allowed, it’s possible that two completely different teams will see the field for Columbus.
Crew head coach Robert Warzycha could use this game for many reasons. In an effort to perfect the 4-2-3-1 formation, Warzycha might start his projected first team for this weekend’s game against Sporting Kansas City. Or, he might try to find a new partner for Jairo Arrieta up top.
Either way, expect the game to feature a lot of long balls and not much fluid, attacking play. Hopefully the two teams will send fans home with a few goals and a great experience watching some of the world’s best.