Laics embark on a journey of discovery tonight when Owen Coyle’s new look Latics take on American opposition for the first time at the Crew Stadium against hosts Columbus Crew, kick off 7.30pm local time (12.30am UK)
All seven of of Coyle’s new signings – Scott Carson, Stephen Crainey, Marc Antoine Fortune, Grant Holt, Chris McCann, James Perch and Thomas Rogne - have travelled to the USA, along with the injured captain Gary Caldwell. Ali Al Habsi, is the only member of the first team squad not to have made the journey following surgery to his shoulder. In addition, Coyle has included Liverpool-born full back Adam Buxton and young Londoner Rakish Bingham after being ‘very impressed by the way they have played in pre-season.’
Coyle added: “We’ve only been back a week but this will be a decent test for us against a side midway through their season and whose fitness will be at its peak. I’m looking for the correct attitude and application first and foremost.”
Currently lying 7th in the Eastern Conference of the MLS, the Crew are one of the league’s founder members, and are managed by former Everton midfielder Robert Warzycha. Federico Higuain, brother of Real Madrid’s Gonzalo, usually leads the line.
Columbus is the site of Ohio State University, where Roger Espinoza was first plucked from the local Hispanic leagues of Denver to begin a career that has so far included appearances in the World Cup and an FA Cup Winners Medal.
“It feels a bit like coming home,” the Honduran told the Official Wigan Athletic website, “but it’s great that the team has been able to arrange this tour and I’m going to meet back up with a few old friends.”
“But really, we are here to work and the mood in the dressing room right now really is good. There have been a lot of changes since last season but that happens in football and you just have to roll up your sleeves and get on with the job you’re paid to do.”