CARSON, CA - APRIL 17: Chris Birchall #11 of the Los Angeles Galaxy is pursued by Nelson Gonzalez #22 of Real Salt Lake in the second half at the Home Depot Center on April 17, 2010 in Carson, California. The Galaxy defeated Real Salt Lake 2-1. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Chris Birchall should provide the Crew with some experience, if nothing else.
Chris Birchall is back in MLS, but maybe not where you expected to see him. The former LA Galaxy midfielder, who left MLS to try his luck in Europe after last season, has signed a multi-year deal with the Columbus Crew. As he was currently out of contract, Birchall should be eligible to play immediately.
"We were looking for some experience and Birchall knows the league very well," said Crew coach Robert Warzycha said in a team release. "He’s a hard-working, experienced midfielder and we’re a hard-working team so he is going to fit in well."
Birchall was allowed to leave the Galaxy after last season, despite having played 48 games and starting 40 times over the past two seasons. He had planned to play for Europe and even considered suiting up for Port Vale of England's League 2 for free, but that plan fell through when the cash-strapped club was hit with a transfer embargo.
That left him with few options other than returning to MLS.
"I feel delighted to be joining Columbus Crew," Birchall said in a team release. "I want to thank everyone who made the move possible. I've played against the Crew a number of times and know how passionate the fans are. Now I can't wait to work hard and battle for them. That's what it’s all about. Hopefully I can add something to a very good squad and use my experience from Galaxy to help improve our league position."
For more on the signing, be sure to check out Crew blog Massive Report.