The surprise appearance of re-entry draft pick and former star Jeff Cunningham raised eyebrows at Crew practice this morning.
So did the presence of Indianapolis Colts punter/kicker/holder Pat McAfee, and it appears the football player's participation in practice might be more than a lark.
Crew coach Robert Warzycha McAfee is slated to stick around for a few more days and that the former college soccer player "showed us he is a pretty good player."
"He wanted to be in a pro environment and try it out,” Warzycha said. "I don’t think we would close the door to anybody just because they play a different sport. We’ll see what happens next. I don’t think we’ll take him to Phoenix (for preseason camp) but he can play and he knows the game. He kicked the hell out of a few balls.”
McAfee is still under contract with his NFL team, a Colts spokesman said. He appeared in 14 games this season.
The Pennsylvania native played youth and college soccer while also playing football at West Virginia. He was selected by the Colts in the seventh round of the 2009 draft.
McAfee and Warzycha have a mutual friend in Robert Morris University women's soccer coach John Kowalski, a former MLS head coach (Tampa Bay).
McAfee was suspended for a Nov. 1 game against Houston following an October arrest for public intoxication in Indianapolis. He was allegedly swimming in a canal at about 5 a.m. on a Wednesday morning before he was taken into custody.
McAfee Tweeted this afternoon that he was "sightseeing" in Columbus with Colts teammate and former Ohio State receiver Anthony Gonzalez.
Cunningham has so far refused to agree to a contract after he was selected by the Crew in the December re-entry draft.
He surprised the Crew when he called a team staffer this morning to ask directions to the SuperKick facility in Lewis Center. He was in Europe last week for an informal tryout with IK Start of Norway. He had a solo workout at the indoor facility today.
“He wanted to say ‘hi’ and that he was sorry if he caught us off-guard by showing up unannounced,” Crew technical director Brian Bliss said.
Warzycha said Cunningham’s arrival is an indication that Jamaican-born forward is serious about signing with his former team although his agent, Jan Schiefloe, said only that Cunningham “has an offer on the table” from the Crew.
Cunningham, 34, scored 33 goals in three seasons for FC Dallas and led the league with 17 goals in 2009. His option was declined by the club and he was selected by the Crew in the re-entry draft, giving the Crew Cunningham’s MLS rights indefinitely.
Cunningham has also played for Colorado and Salt Lake. He scored 62 goals for the Crew from 1998-2004 and is tied with Brian McBride for the club record. He needs one goal to tie Jaime Moreno’s MLS record of 133.