Chris Birchall is happy for his opportunity with the Crew, but on a sunny day in Obetz the defensive midfielder would certainly have preferred to be elsewhere.
A member of last season’s MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy, Birchall was invited back to rejoin his teammates for a ring ceremony at the beginning of the season. But with the Galaxy meeting United States president Barack Obama at the White House today, Birchall and a pair of members from last year’s club found themselves not invited to the festivities.
“It seems weird how they flew me halfway across the world to get a ring, which I was privileged to do and honored that they did that and it’s just weird how for an hour and a half flight away to go to a massive thing like meeting the president at the White House, it wasn’t in their plans,” Birchall said. “It’s just bizarre to understand the reasoning behind it. I’d end up spending too much time getting depressed about it so I just have to get on with it.”
Birchall was not alone on the list of uninvited players. Frankie Hejduk, now a member of the Crew’s front office, was not invited to the White House. The same went for goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who has started 11 games for Montreal this season.
Hejduk tweeted a photo of himself at the White House in 2009 as a member of the Crew earlier today with the caption, “Wish I could’ve been there today!”
When the Crew visited Obama, the club made a point to bring back members of the 2008 squad who were no longer with the organization. That included head coach Sigi Schmidt, who left for Seattle that offseason.
Birchall saw action in 23 games including 17 starts for the Galaxy last season. Ricketts had 15 starts and Hejduk six. Of the three, just Birchall saw action in the MLS Cup win against Houston.
Birchall said he was never officially informed that he was not making the trip to Washington, D.C.
“I can’t say we’re really pleased about it,” he said. “It’s something that we didn’t expect to happen with a massive franchise like that. It’s annoying when you’ve done so well for the team and won a championship and then they take a squad that some of the players weren’t even there last year. My time at L.A. was great. I didn’t even leave on bad terms. I left on great terms with the fans.
“That’s entirely up to them. It’s obviously disappointing because it’s a massive thing and when me and Frankie are only an hour and a half away on a flight it’s disappointing and we’re kind of hurt but we’ve got to get on with it, I suppose.”