It's game day for the Crew's match against FA Cup winning Wigan. My preferred name, "The Unfashionable Derby", hasn't caught the imagination. That's not a surprise, very little about this match has caught anyone's imagination. Crew diehards will be there as well as some Latics fans. Sadly the FA Cup won't be there due to insurance requirements.
Wigan has turned this trip into a mini tour. They originally scheduled Columbus tonight and USL-Pro side the Pittsburgh Riverhounds next Friday at picturesque Highmark Stadium. They've now added a game against another USL-Pro team. They will now face the Dayton Dutch Lions in Piqua on the turf of Wertz Stadium next Tuesday. Columbus is likely the toughest test they'll face during their warmup games.
The most recognizable name is likely OSU alum and former Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza. There is also Callum McManaman, the star of the FA Cup final, quinnicential English forward Grant Holt, and Scott Carson, a recent transfer from Turkish team Bursaspor. Certainly not household names, even in England, but a hard working team.
The Crew will likely empty the bench. Tonight is a chance to see Agustin Viana continue his return from injury and Wil Trapp try and break his way into the starting lineup. The players at the end of the bench will see action. Kyle Hyland, Shawn Sloan, and Daniel Withrow will get some time under the lights at Crew Stadium.
It's easy to talk about what this game isn't. This game promises not to be a flowing game out of the Barcelona playbook and there isn't the marquis name that attract attention like Bale or Messi. Plus it's a midseason friendly. It doesn't mean anything.
Well, that's not all bad. Without the result to worry about, it's easier to pay attention to other things than goals. Ben Speas, Chad Barson, Wil Trapp, and the rest of the young Crew will get a chance to make some plays. They'll also make the mistakes that inexperience brings, but it won't matter as much. The hard work resumes next week. Tonight it's just a game.