COLUMBUS, Ohio. – For three years, Chris Birchall was a key member of the LA Galaxy, but on Wednesday evening (7pm ET/ 4pm PT, NBC Sports, 1330 AM, LIVE CHAT), the 28-year-old midfielder will line up against his former team as part of the Columbus Crew.
WATCH: Birchall on facing LA
The reunion will be a bit strange for Birchall, who departed the Galaxy at the end of the 2011 season in order to pursue options in his native England before eventually signing with Columbus in May. So far this season, Birchall has made a total of eight appearances for the Crew, tallying a goal and two assists.
While it may be a bit different for him to line up against the Galaxy, Birchall has been eagerly awaiting his chance to face off against his former club.
“Ever since I came back to MLS and signed with Columbus, it was the first game that I was looking for on the schedule. It’s a game that I’m really looking forward to,” Birchall told LAGalaxy.com. “To see the Galaxy again and see how they’re all doing and to play against them and try to get the three points will be tough, but I’m just trying to play well and have a nice night as well.”
Despite playing nearly 2000 miles away, the affable Birchall has kept in close contact with his former teammates through texting and social media. Following the Galaxy’s training session in Columbus on Tuesday; one of Birchall’s closest friends, LA forward Robbie Keane couldn’t hide his joy about reuniting with Birchall again.
“Playing Chris is great,” said Keane. “I’ve been speaking to him on the phone and I haven’t seen him in awhile and I think it’ll be good to see him.”
Birchall’s Galaxy reunion on Wednesday will provide some much needed levity to a match that promises to be a somber affair as Columbus play their first match following the untimely passing of midfielder Kirk Urso.
Despite the emotion surrounding the game, Birchall trusts that the Crew will be “fine” once the opening whistle blows.
‘These are the kind of games where we need to go out and get three points, we missed the game on Saturday, but soccer came second to what happened. It was emotional and now we’ve got to go out and try and play well,” said Birchall who attended Urso’s funeral in Illinois with the rest of his Crew teammates on Saturday. “The last month, we’ve been playing really well and we’ve got to keep that going and try to pick up points at home. This is a game where it will be good to get anything out of the game, but we’ve got to go in with a winning mentality.”
Although he has moved on from the Galaxy, the affable Birchall admits that he’ll never forget his time with LA.
“I was honored to be a member of the Galaxy during one of their greatest seasons in MLS. What we did last year was unbelievable; it would be hard for any team to emulate that,” said Birchall. “But I was just privileged and honored because I played a lot of games and I’ve got nothing but fond memories of the fans and the players. I’ve also got some fond memories of winning an MLS Cup so it will be something that I’m always grateful for and I’m always looking out for the Galaxy to do well.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog LAGalaxy.com/Insider