The Columbus Crew announced today that it has signed former LA Galaxy midfielder and Trinidad & Tobago international Chris Birchall to a multi-year contract. Per club and league policy, no further terms of the deal were disclosed.
The 28-year-old joins the Crew after spending the last three seasons with the Galaxy. He was signed in 2009, joining the team midseason and making his MLS debut on July 16, replacing David Beckham in a match against the New York Red Bulls. Birchall went on to appear in 57 matches with 46 starts, netting one goal and three assists on his way to helping Los Angeles win two MLS Supporters’ Shields (2010-11), two Western Conference Championships (2009, 2011) and MLS Cup 2011.
“We were looking for some experience and Birchall knows the league very well,” said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha. “He’s a hard-working, experienced midfielder and we’re a hard-working team so he is going to fit in well.”
A 5-9, 180-pound native of Stafford, England, Birchall came through the youth ranks of local club Port Vale of England’s Second Division (now League One), where he began his professional career in 2001. While at Port Vale he appeared in 78 matches and tallied seven goals. In 2006 he transferred to Coventry City of the English Championship where he appeared in 29 matches. After short loan spells with Scottish side St. Mirren and Carlisle United, he moved on to Brighton & Hove Albion, also of the Championship division, appearing in nine matches to finish the 2009 Championship season.
While at Port Vale, Birchall caught the eye of Trinidad & Tobago coaches and was invited to join the team, being eligible to represent the country because his mother was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. He was called up in 2005 for World Cup qualifiers against Panama and Mexico after impressing the coaching staff in friendlies against Bermuda.
Birchall went on to help the team qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, scoring a huge goal against Bahrain in a playoff on Nov. 12, 2005. He started all three group stage matches of the tournament against Sweden, England and Paraguay. In total, Birchall has appeared in 39 matches for the Soca Warriors, tallying four goals.
“I feel delighted to be joining Columbus Crew,” Birchall said. “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.”