Now entering his seventh year as the radio play-by-play announcer for Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew, Neil Sika has also spent the past nine years providing coverage of numerous NCAA Division I athletics.
Additionally, he has worked several national and regional events on television (Big Ten Network, STO, TWC) and radio (Monarch Sports).
Buckeyes, Blue Jackets and more
COLUMBUS – Major League Soccer today unveiled its 2014 regular-season schedule, a campaign that sees each of its 19 clubs play a 34-match clip beginning on March 8 and concluding on October 26. For Major League Soccer and the Crew – one of the League’s Charter Members – 2014 is the 19th season of play dating back to the League’s inaugural campaign in 1996.
For the third consecutive season, each team is scheduled to play an unbalanced schedule that features a single match against each team in opposite conferences, and two or three intra-conference tilts in an effort to continue regional rivalries.
MLS also announced that it is holding a two-week break from June 12 to June 24 to align with the group phase of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The League adopted a similar practice in 2010 during the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The last MLS matches before the break are on June 11, one day before the start of the World Cup.
Under new Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter, the Black & Gold take to the road a third straight year to open the 2014 campaign, traveling to face Eastern Conference rival D.C. United at RFK Stadium on Saturday, March 8 – a team the Crew swept in 2013 (2-0-0).
2014 is the Crew’s 16th season at first-of-its-kind Crew Stadium, the first topflight soccer-specific facility built in the United States. After a second week bye, the home schedule opens with a visit from the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, March 22. The Black & Gold enter the upcoming season unbeaten in their last nine Opening Matches (5-0-4) at Crew Stadium dating back to 2005. The club’s home – and regular-season – schedule also wraps-up against the Union on Sunday, October 26, completing its 17th home tilt after 17 road challenges.
Similar to 2013, the Crew faces seven Eastern Conference foes three times each this campaign: D.C. United, Houston Dynamo, Montreal Impact, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC. Of those teams, Montreal, Toronto and Philadelphia will make two trips to Columbus, while the Crew travels to face D.C., Houston, New England and New York twice each in 2014. Whereas the Crew faced Eastern Conference opponents D.C. and Philadelphia just twice each in 2013, the Crew is scheduled to play the Chicago Fire and Sporting KC twice each next season, with each club scheduled to host the Crew once and travel to Columbus a single time as well.
Nine other contests round-out the Crew’s schedule, including a matchup against each of the nine Western Conference clubs, reversing the home location of the 2013 contests. The Black & Gold play host to Chivas USA, FC Dallas, LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake and Vancouver Whitecaps FC while logging West Coast mileage to square-off at the Colorado Rapids, Portland Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders FC.
Some of the highlights of the schedule include a visit from the reigning Supporters’ Shield victors, the New York Red Bulls on April 26; the lone home meeting against bitter rival Chicago Fire on May 24; Gregg Berhalter’s first match against his former coach and mentor Bruce Arena’s LA Galaxy at Crew Stadium on Saturday, August 16; a second-straight road Fourth of July match – and 11th overall Independence Day contest in club history – with a trip this year to Colorado; and three road matches in the final four weeks of the year, including a trip to New England on October 4 with a chance at payback after the Revs knocked the Crew out of 2013 postseason contention.
The Sunday, May 4 contest at Sporting KC is set to air nationally on the NBC Sports Network. Additional matches – including Wednesday, September 7 against Chivas USA and Sunday, October 19 at New York – are set to air nationally on UniMás. Additional regional broadcast details for radio and television will be announced at a later date.
2014 season tickets, group tickets, premier seating and 10-match plans are already on sale, along with a special Holiday Pack, while information for purchasing single-game tickets for all Crew regular-season home games will be released at later date. Tickets are available by calling 614-447-CREW and online via TheCrew.com.
COLUMBUS – 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.”
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 Indiana University 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.
TRANSACTIONS: Crew re-signs defender Josh Williams; signs defender Waylon Francis as Discovery Signing and Homegrown Player Matt Wiet.
CHICAGO (Nov. 27, 2013) – For their excellence at the highest levels of the sport, U.S. Soccer announced U.S. Men’s National Team forward Jozy Altidore as the 2013 Male Athlete of the Year, Abby Wambach as the 2013 Female Athlete of the Year, Wil Trapp as the 2013 Young Male Athlete of the Year, Lindsey Horan as the 2013 Young Female Athlete of the Year and Rene Renteria as the 2013 Disabled Athlete of the Year.
The U-20 MNT midfielder Trapp becomes the 16th player to earn the Young Male Athlete of the Year award. Trapp was named the U-20 MNT captain by head coach Tab Ramos for the USA’s 1-1 draw against eventual 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup winner France on June 24. Trapp started all five matches during the U-20 MNT’s runner-up performance at the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship and earned tournament Best XI honors. Trapp’s international success translated to his first professional season in Major League Soccer as he started 15 times for his home state Columbus Crew.
YOUNG MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
1998: Josh Wolff
1999: Ben Olsen
2000: Landon Donovan
2001: DaMarcus Beasley
2002: Bobby Convey
2003: Freddy Adu
2004: Eddie Johnson
2005: Benny Feilhaber
2006: Jozy Altidore
2007: Michael Bradley
2008: Sacha Kljestan
2009: Luis Gil
2010: Gale Agbossoumonde
2011: Brek Shea
2012: Rubio Rubin
2013: Wil Trapp