About 4,000 miles separate Columbus, Ohio, and Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. On July 26th, Newcastle’s Premier Football Club will travel to the states and take on the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium. Most Americans are familiar with Major League Soccer teams, but many are unsure about the soccer clubs in the East. Here in the Crew offices, we decided that since the Crew will be playing a team from the English Premier League that we should share some background information on the Crew’s opponent.
Who is Newcastle United?
Newcastle United Football Club (NUFC) is located in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne. The city is located in Northeast right on the Tyne River, which flows out of the North Sea. NUFC was founded 118 years ago in 1892. That’s 102 years before the MLS was even thought about. That same year, NUFC moved into their home, which still stands today, called St. James’ Park. Today, this stadium holds around 53,000 people and is the third largest stadium in England behind Old Trafford of Manchester United F.C. and the Emirates Stadium of Arsenal F.C. The average attendance this past season was around 48,000 people. Newcastle United Football Club is nicknamed “The Magpies”. A magpie is a bird of the crow family. In Europe, a magpie is believed to be one of the most intelligent of all animals. NUFC is also known as the Toon Army, which originates from the Northeast European pronunciation of town.
Newcastle United Last Season:
Newcastle United Football Club is owned by Mike Ashley and managed by Alan Pardew. This past season was the first for Pardew as NUFC replaced Chris Hughton in December of 2010 and immediately hired Pardew three days later. His first year with the team went well, as he posted 6 wins, 9 draws, and 8 losses in the very tough English Premier League (EPL). The team itself played 15 more games with their old coach, for a total of 38 games, and ended up going 11, 13, and 14, earning 46 pts and placing 12th out of 20 in the EPL.
Players You Should Know:
The Magpies have a lot of talent on their roster. One of their most notable players is veteran keeper Steve Harper, who helped the Magpies earn nine clean sheets last season. He has been with Newcastle United for 16 years and is the longest serving member of the club.
Newcastle United’s midfield has just been upgraded as the club recently signed two new players from French Association Football Clubs. Yohan Cabaye, who played for Lille, and Sylvain Marveaux, who played for Rennes, have both been added to the Magpies to help bolster their midfield. Cabaye has played on the France National Football Team and when he played on Lille, he scored 31 goals in 191 appearances. Marveaux scored 12 goals in 38 appearances with his top tier team of Rennes last year.
Newcastle United will count on the experience of another midfielder that made a name for himself in the EPL last year, Cheik Tiote. Last season he was second in the league for fouls (75) and was issued the most yellow cards (14). Tiote only netted one goal last year with the Magpies, but his presence was felt on the field with his intense play and large number of fouls. Tiote has international experience by playing in the most recent FIFA World Cup with his home country of Ivory Coast. Look for Tiote to play hard against the Crew and draw some fouls.
Newcastle United is also signing a striker to help their scoring. They are bringing in Demba Ba, who played for West Ham United all of last year. He was their top scorer with seven goals in twelve games. The Magpies signed Ba on June 17, 2011.
Other strikers that should be recognized are Shola Ameobi and Leon Best. Ameobi is the only current player who had nine goals last season in thirty appearances. Best suffered an ankle injury last year that kept him sidelined at the start of the Premier League season, but bounced back on January 5, 2011, by scoring a hat trick in NUFC’s 5-0 victory over the West Ham Hammers. Best was out almost the whole season, but managed to find the back of the net six times in twelve appearances. Ameobi and Best should make the trip out to Crew Stadium.
The only other time these teams met was exactly 10 years from this year’s matchup on July 26th, 2000. In front of about 18,000 fans, the Columbus Crew tied the Magpies 2-2 in what is listed as the number nine best match of all time at Crew Stadium, according to mlssoccer.com. The two players to score for the Crew were Miles Joseph and Jeff Cunningham. Jeff Cunningham will be playing in this year’s matchup.
July 26th, 2011
Newcastle United’s trip to America, they will have friendly matches with Sporting Kansas City, the United Soccer League’s Orlando City, and end their trip on July 26th to take on the Columbus Crew. Newcastle United will then travel back to the Tyne and prepare for their opening matchup against Arsenal F.C. in August.
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