A new ‘crew’

Few things are as awkward as arriving a few minutes late to class. The students stop taking notes, and everyone watches as you make the long walk from the door to your desk.

Now imagine showing up six weeks late.

Senior soccer player Chris Lee found himself in that unenviable position when he joined the Columbus Crew for a week of training and games.

The Crew, who took Lee in the fourth round of the Major League Soccer Supplemental Draft, had been in training for a month-and-a-half before Lee showed up.

The late arrival was planned because Lee, a senior forward who scored 35 goals in his collegiate career, is taking classes so he will graduate this spring.

"I was six weeks late, and it was tough to get adjusted," Lee said. "But I was happy with how it went overall."

Lee was not exactly exploring uncharted waters. In the summer before his senior season, he routinely practiced with the Kansas City Wizards, another MLS team.

"That experience made me a lot less intimidated than I probably would have been," he said.

Another factor that helped ease the adjustment is that both the Crew and Golden Eagles employ similar defensive philosophies, according to Lee.

Lee was in Columbus from March 9 through Wednesday, and during his time the team had three days of two-a-day practices and played two games.

Saturday the Crew tied the Virginia Beach Mariners, 1-1, and Tuesday the team defeated the Cincinnati Kings, 3-0.

Lee played a half in each game.

"On my last night the team had a game, and I had a lot of fun," Lee said. "I felt like I was part of the team. We worked hard (together)."

Even though Lee put in a great deal of work to prepare for the event — "He trained like a dog," Marquette teammate Danny Mullin said — he realized there's still work to be done.

"I'm learning to play at that level, but I have to work on my fundamentals and become more technically sound," said Lee, who plans to sign with the team May 1.

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on Mar. 17 2005.