Welcome to Crewture.

Which stands for Crew and Culture, and follows Crew supporter culture. Created around the Nordecke creation and used to follow the rise of the new supporters section which is now 9 years old.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

5.1.2014: Player Profile- Not on the Radar, College Student Athlete Becomes Major League Soccer Starter

          Pic by Sam Greene/Columbus Dispatch


Player Profile- Not on the Radar, College Student Athlete Becomes Major League Soccer Starter
By Ryan Kozlowski
Crewture Editor

Josh Williams was very close from never receiving the opportunity to become a professional player.

The right back, who has become the senior member of the 2014 Columbus Crew with over 60 appearances, under normal circumstances would've never received the chance to impress.

An unexpected phone call and a decision to answer in 2010 changed that.

Williams was in a college class at Cleveland State, an unknown number called.

Could've been a telemarketer. A creditor. But, for some reason Williams answered. It was Crew's Coach Brian Bliss.

Bliss called Williams, out of the blue, in 2010.

Bliss was on the phone because he wanted to possibly sign Josh. Bliss wanted the unknown Josh to be ready to be a backup signing in a hour for Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew, if another deal fell through on deadline day.

One could only imagine Williams reaction crouched in his class room.

On most days.. Josh wouldn't have answered an unknown number in the middle of class, could of let it go to voice mail, and continued to listen to his Sport Management lecture that afternoon.

If he did the usual, not answer his phone in class, chances are Josh Williams wouldn't be a Major League Soccer player today.

Josh likely would've instead struggled to get a foot in the door of the management side of sports, where six figure salaries are reserved only for upper management.

But, in a stroke of good fortune a higher profile, overseas signing did fall through on that day.

One Kwaku Nyamekye who never kicked a ball professionally and is now a trade support analyst in oil. 

Appears that one worked out for Williams, the Crew, and perhaps even Kwaku.

Kwaku Nyamekye

Now Williams, who was at the first Crew game in 1996 as an 8 year old fan, has over 60 appearances for the club that he has always followed.

Josh often took the road less traveled to get there.

Josh could've played baseball at Division I colleges. He had full rides to Kentucky and West Virginia.

But, Josh wanted to play soccer and went to the only place that would give him the same opportunity, Cleveland State.

Most would not turn down a Kentucky Wildcat or Mountaineer uniform for a Horizon league one. But, Josh did.

Following a successful career at Cleveland State, Josh played lower division soccer with the Cleveland Internationals and received semi-chances with the Crew in reserve exhibitions.

That is how the Columbus Crew's Brian Bliss became accustomed with the hard working Williams, mainly because he was in the area and persistent.

When those chances occurred with Columbus reserves luck played a role with Williams. Injuries gave Williams an opportunity to get on the field.


At Cleveland State

And apparently that was enough to be a last second signing.

But, Bliss won't take full credit for the discovery of Williams.

"Josh wasn't really on our radar, but we knew him," Bliss recalls. "He did OK in those college games (with the Crew). His geographic location was a big part of it."

For the next four seasons, Josh has been a starter for the Columbus Crew.

Not bad for someone who wasn't on a team's radar.
Was only signed because another deal fell through.
He was geographically close.
And he picked up his phone.

5.1.2014: Player Profile- The Confident, Acrobatic Steve Clark's Soccer Journey


            Pic by Sam Fahmi

Player Profile- The Confident, Acrobatic Steve Clark's Soccer Journey
By Ryan Kozlowski, Crewture Editor

In February 2010, Steve Clark was on his way to Norway with Honefoss BK, after his visa permit was denied to move to League One Bradford City and a Stabaek deal fizzled out.

England International Keeper, turned Bradford City goalkeeper coach Nigel Martyn at the time told Clark to "keep going."

"I believe in your training habits and instinct and ability."

Martyn, with 680 caps at Leeds United, Everton, and Crystal Palace, rated Clark. Clark took confidence from this.

Clark kept going, and found a home in Norway through what he was known for during his stay there, his American determination.

Clark set up, or rather engineered a trial himself.

"On Tuesday, I called Honefoss after hearing a deal with Stabaek's second choice goalkeeper fell through."

Clark was training at the time with Stabaek.

"So, I asked if they needed a goalkeeper and here we are."

England former international Nigel Martyn had 23 caps with the Three Lions.

This inner-confidence to seal a deal with Honefoss wasn't built completely by Martyn's words, but also from Clark's former stops; as Clark signed and didn't forget where he came from.

"I thank my coaches at Oakland University that helped give me the confidence to believe in myself."

Clark, as an All-American, led Oakland to two NCAA appearances.

"I also want to thank the Michigan Bucks ownership and coaches for everything they have done to help me get my first pro contract last year. My four years with the Bucks went a long way to prepare me for what life was going to be like in the real world having to go out and fight for a job in pro soccer.  I will always cherish my experience with the Bucks and will make them proud of me over here."

The Bucks goalkeeper, with over 75 appearances as a PDL regular season and playoff champion, did just that.

He helped Honefoss to promotion, and then his stellar goalkeeping kept Honefoss, expected to go straight back down, in the League.

Clark was named the Tippeligaen Goalkeeper of the Year in 2012.

"I think the way you get league Best XI is to not want to get league Best XI."

Clark's attitude and play has led to him being the best wherever he has played.

"You can't want something so badly or else you'll end up fearing failure on gameday.If you can compartmentalize your thoughts, you can make big gains in your game."

Clark, who played every game for Honefoss from 2011 to 2013, is making big gains in Major League Soccer so far with Columbus.

Will his 2014 lead to another BEST XI? Will a few years in MLS lead to bigger things?

"I've always dreamed of playing in the Bundesliga."

"I'll be the first one to tell you, I'm not at that level yet, but maybe in a couple years. Maybe not, but I'm certainly going to shoot for it."

I wouldn't count against Steve Clark.

But, first let's hope he leads Columbus to some playoff success.