The Columbus Crew will welcome two former Ohio State players, Konrad Warzycha and Roger Espinoza, to the opposing sidelines this weekend as the Crew hosts Sporting Kansas City.
For Warzycha, it will be a chance to be face the team his father coaches and has been a part of since he was a player.
“It’s a little weird now, cheering for another team,” he said. “We’ve been with the Crew since 1996 but it’s a little different story now.”
Warzycha required knee surgery in the preseason. He then returned home to Dublin, Ohio, to rehab.
“I am excited to see my teammates again,” he said. “I will definitely be on the Kansas City sideline with them.”
While home, a little friendly trash talking has been going on within the family.
“He talks a little smack about what the Crew is doing now,” Warzycha said of his father, Robert.
Even a dad’s love for his son seems to shy away when his son happens to be on the other bench.
“Oh, he better not make eye contact,” Robert said, jokingly.
While seeing his son heal, Robert has been giving advice to the young player about what he must do to make sure his future as an athlete is not jeopardized.
“He’s been telling me, ‘Be smart now. Let it heal and don’t rush it,'” Konrad said.
“I have talked to the doctors and medical staff at Kansas City about what needs to be done during and after rehab,” said. “I think he is taking it very well.”
Konrad said he will be excited to sit on the sidelines again with his new teammates.
For Espinoza, he’s coming back to where his professional career took its biggest step.
After transferring from Yavapai College in Arizona, Espinoza played for the Buckeyes for two years, and was a part of the team that made it to the 2007 Men’s Finals where OSU lost, 2-1, to Wake Forest.
He was drafted 11th overall in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft. In July of that year, he scored his first professional goal, coincidentally against the Crew.
Espinoza did not return phone calls for comment.
Columbus is preparing to face a Kansas City team that has scored nine goals this year. Last week, against the Houston Dynamo, was the first time Kansas City scored only one goal.
Robert said he is not worried.
“Sure they have some good players,” he said, “but we haven’t given up a goal in the last three games.”
The coach talked about how proud he was of his son. Both said they wish they would have had a chance to go against each other this weekend.
Robert couldn’t help but laugh at the notion of bringing his son back home.
“He has to make his name in Kansas City first,” he said.