Columbus' MLS roster is packed with Central Ohio talent-including a handful of guys who have never known life without the Crew.
The Columbus Crew-which opens the season at Crew Stadium on March 22-is at the start of a rebuilding year. A new owner, a new coach and some new faces in the lineup ensure 2014 will be one of the most anticipated seasons in the franchise's 19-year history. Also exciting for local soccer fans? The number of familiar faces. We sat down with five local standouts to hear about their experiences growing up with the black and gold-and to chat Cap City favorites.WIL TRAPP
Age: 21 Position: Midfielder Hometown: Gahanna
High-school highlight: "His work ethic is the best I've ever seen in a highschool player," says Dwayne Marshall, who coached Trapp when Gahanna brought home the 2009 state championship title.
Crew memories: "I have photos of me at Ohio Stadium, watching the games when I'm still a little tyke."
I love Columbus, because … "The fans are dedicated to their teams. They love to see people who will fight for them."
If I'm not on the field, I'm … "Singing. I used to be in choir, and the guys always ask me to sing in the locker room."CHAD BARSON
Age: 22 Position: Defender Hometown: Lewis Center
High-school highlight: At Olentangy, Barson was a two-time NSCAA Youth All-American.
Crew memories: "I grew up watching the Crew, I played for the Crew Soccer Academy and now I'm with the senior team. The Crew's in my blood."
I love Columbus, because … "I like that I get to play in front of my hometown fans and friends and family. There's no feeling like it."
If I'm not on the field, I'm … "Cooking. I like to experiment in the kitchen."ROSS FRIEDMAN
Age: 22 Position: Defender Hometown: Bexley
High-school highlight: Friedman was integral to the Bexley team even in his freshman year, says coach Greg Kullman. "For Ross, it wasn't a natural gift of speed or size … His work ethic set him apart."
Crew memories: "For my bar mitzvah video-the theme was 'soccer'-I actually got to train with the team for a day, with my own jersey!"
I love Columbus, because … "My whole family is here. I have 20-some cousins here."
If I'm not on the field, I'm … "Studying. I majored in government at while Harvard, and I'm still finishing my degree."MATT LAMPSON
Age: 24 Position: Goalkeeper Hometown: Hilliard
High-school highlight: Lampson was named St. Charles' MVP for two consecutive years.
Crew memories: "My family has had Crew season tickets since 1996. I loved going to games, watching guys like Brad Friedel and Mark Dougherty."
I love Columbus, because … "It's a big city without the big-city issues. It's laid-back. It's progressive."
If I'm not on the field, I'm … "Drawing. It's a stress-reliever. I love to draw animals … I can't draw people, though."MATT WIET
Age: 23 Position: Defender Hometown: Worthington
High-school highlight: "We were in the district semis, and the game started at 7 p.m. Matt was on the practice field by 4:30 p.m.," says John Sprunger, Wiet's coach at Kilbourne. "He was like a 16-year-old with a 26-year-old's mentality."
Crew memories: "The Crew youth program influenced me a lot. I had great coaches who encouraged me to remember where I come from."
I love Columbus, because … "Everyone rallies behind things together."
If I'm not on the field, I'm … "At Plank's Cafe & Pizzeria. I've been going since I was a kid."