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Crew banks on Ethan Finlay to boost offense
by Mike Woitalla, January 15th, 2012 7:21PM

TAGS:  columbus crew, mls


[MLS RISING STARS] The soccer career of Ethan Finlay, the No. 10 pick in the MLS SuperDraft by the Columbus Crew, started thanks to a lack of ice.

Ethan’s father, Brent, was a college ice hockey player and Ethan was on already on skates at age 3 when his family moved from Duluth, Minn., to North Carolina -- where they found no rink.

“So my dad introduced me to soccer,” says Ethan.

And quite an introduction it was.

Brent was coaching the team of older son Jarryd’s indoor when he looked to 4-year-old Ethan.

“Jarryd was on a 7-year-old indoor soccer team and my husband was coach,” recalls Ethan’s mother, Julie. “They didn’t have enough players so he put Ethan on. I was managing a restaurant and later in the day someone came up to me and said, ‘Your son did so good.’ I said, ‘Jarryd had a good game?’ And they said, ‘No, no. The little one.’”

That, said Julie, was a clear sign that Ethan might have some potential. There was also his enthusiasm for sports in general.

“When he was little, he used to wait for his dad to come home and line up the soccer ball, the football, the tennis racket -- every sport you could imagine,” said Julie. “He was just 4. He’d have it all lined up so when his dad got home they would play every sport in the car port. There was no coming in for dinner until they played everything. ...

“He played a lot of sports but by 10 or 11 it was pretty much all soccer.”

The family moved back north, to Wisconsin, when Ethan was 13 and his play for FC Milwaukee and its success in regional play attracted the attention of college scouts. He committed to Creighton before his senior year, when he ventured into another sport at Marshfield High School.

“The football coach came up to me on a Friday afternoon and asked me to be the placekicker because the kicker injured his knee,” said Finlay. “He said he already got the OK from my soccer coach to miss that afternoon’s practice. That afternoon I was on a bus to a game against the state football champion.

“It was scary. All those big guys coming at you.”

Finlay missed his long-range attempt in his debut but managed a 30-yarder later in the season.

At Creighton he scored 29 goals during his final two seasons. Last season he helped the Bluejays reach the College Cup semifinals and finished second in the MAC Hermann Trophy voting to Duke’s Andrew Wenger, the No. 1 pick in the SuperDraft by Montreal.

A day after the MAC Hermann ceremony in St. Louis, he scored a hat trick at the MLS Combine, helping convince the Crew that he could boost its struggling offense, which is set to lose right winger Robbie Rogers to Leeds United. The Crew scored only 43 goals in 34 games last season.

“We have to have the players who have the quality to get assists or goals,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said. “In the past -- on the
statistic line -- we didn’t have too many goal or assists. That’s going to have to change. To be successful, we are going to have to score goals. That’s what people are coming to the stadium to see.”

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