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Memory of former Buckeye Connor Senn lives on without Crew

Lantern file photo

For the first time in the 10-year history of the Ohio State men’s soccer team’s annual Connor Senn Memorial Match, the Columbus Crew won’t be playing.

The Crew have designated their July 26 match against the English Premier League’s Newcastle United as this season’s unpaid game.

Crew technical director Brian Bliss said an additional non-league match, including the Connor Senn Memorial Match, would cost the club $10,000 because of the Major League Soccer Players Union’s most recently ratified collective-bargaining agreement, which stipulates that MLS clubs can schedule only one non-league “free game” per season.

“Anything after that, we have to pay our players,” Bliss said. “It comes down to a matter of resources and how the club wants to spend its resources.”

The Crew competed in each of the previous nine editions of the match, which honors Connor Senn, a former OSU player who died Sept. 26, 2001, from a congenital heart defect during a game against Akron. With the Crew opting not to participate in this year’s event, the Buckeyes will instead host the Dayton Dutch Lions of the USL Pro league in today’s match.

Crew defender Danny O’Rourke, a childhood friend and teammate of Senn’s, told The Lantern that he and other Crew players have committed to playing a small role in today’s festivities.

“Some of my buddies like Will Hesmer, Chad Marshall and Duncan Oughton will be out there mingling with the crowd and signing autographs,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke said he is disappointed the Crew won’t be participating on the field.

“I think the whole cause of the game got lost in the process,” O’Rourke said. “The whole point is to celebrate soccer in Columbus, to celebrate the best college team in Columbus and the best pro team. It’s just sad that it gets lost.”

OSU athletic department spokeswoman Alissa Clendenen said there were several factors involved in the Crew’s decision not to play in the match.

“We have definitely enjoyed the ongoing partnership with the Crew the last nine years, and are disappointed for it to change, but excited to play the Dayton Dutch Lions,” she said in an email to The Lantern.

Crew coach Robert Warzycha said he hopes his team will return to the memorial match in the future.

“We’ve been participating in the game for so many years,” he said. “We have to make sure we find time, and, whatever happens, hopefully participate next year.”

The 10th annual Connor Senn Memorial Match will kick off at 7 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

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