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A St. John’s reunion in Columbus

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Wingert thought it would be great to have another familiar face from back home with him in Columbus, Ohio. Little did he know that both would soon be heading there.The Crew selected both Gaudette and Kelly, reuniting them with Wingert, and now Columbus is home to three of MLS' five St. John's alums. Chris Corcoran is with the MetroStars and Shalrie Joseph is with the New England Revolution.Columbus made its first trip to the New York area Saturday night to face the MetroStars at Giants Stadium. Starting in goal was Gaudette and at left back was Wingert. Columbus, which is currently in the Eastern Conference, lost the game, 3-2."I'm very fortunate," Gaudette said before the game. "A lot of these guys I knew beforehand and it made the transition from New York to Columbus tremendously easier."Wingert is the seasoned veteran of the trio - by one year. After winning the Hermann Award, given annually to the best collegiate soccer player in the country, Wingert was drafted by Columbus 12th overall in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft. A defender in college, Wingert was moved into the midfield by Andrulis, which is where he has played for much of his season and a half. That is until Saturday when, because of injuries, Wingert was moved to left back. "My position is never permanent because of the amount of injuries we've had. I know that I can play anywhere in the midfield or in the back," said Wingert, who missed two games in April with a groin/abdomen strain. "Since I've been healthy, I've started all but one game. I'm confident I can play any position but I definitely feel I can play better."Gaudette, who was selected ninth overall in the supplemental draft, started the season as the Crew's third string goalkeeper. But after backup Matt Jordan suffered a lower back strain and starter Jon Busch tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, Gaudette became the Crew's starting keeper.He replaced Busch at halftime of the Crew's game against the Los Angeles Galaxy and helped secure a scoreless draw. His first career start came against the MetroStars May 28 in a 3-0 loss. He rebounded nicely, getting his first win against Colorado June 11 before struggling a bit in a 3-2 loss to the Metros Saturday. "It's a step up, it's a different level up here," Gaudette said. "But you just have to go out there and get the job done, you can't think about it too much. Nothing really changes in my job, keep the ball out of the net and my team wins."Kelly made his MLS debut in the Crew's season opener April 2, coming on a sub and playing three minutes. Two weeks later the rookie defender made his first start in a 1-0 win over D.C. United. He got his second start April 23 in a 2-0 loss at Colorado. He was replaced by Wingert in the 61st minute.But recently Kelly has seen his playing time dwindle and hasn't played in the Crew's last four matches."As of late, it's been a bit more disappointing because I haven't been playing as much," Kelly said. "There was a couple of games I started and I was coming off the bench a lot earlier in the year and it's been kind of hit or miss lately. For the most part it's been fun. I'm enjoying myself. There's a lot worse things I could be doing."While Kelly sat on the bench for the Crew's MLS match, he did get to return to Belson Stadium and play in the Crew's Reserve League match against the MetroStars Sunday morning. He started and played the entire 90 minutes in a 1-0 loss. In the stands were his former coaches Dave Masur and Mark Reeves, as well as ex-teammates Matt Groenwald, Andre Schmid, Jason Landers and Brian Carroll."In college I was bigger, stronger and faster than most and here everybody is big, strong and fast," he said. "Now you have to speed your mind up. In college the things you could get away with, you can't get away with here. Everything's got to be spot on. Any weakness you have is going to get exposed immediately. Everything you have to do has to be turned up another notch."For Gaudette and Kelly, their first trip home as professional soccer players was a chance to catch up on old times. Along with Wingert, they met Corcoran and Groenwald for dinner Friday night. With Andrulis' OK, Wingert skipped the Reserve League game to spend Father's Day with his dad, Norm Wingert, who was also a former professional soccer player, at his home in Babylon, L.I. "For the three of us, and the three of us were all best of friends at St. John's, to end up on the same professional team is unheard of basically," Kelly said. "We're all lucky and we're enjoying ourselves."Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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