Rich Balchan was as surprised as anybody when he scored the Crew's game-tying goal in second-half stoppage time last Saturday against the New York Red Bulls.

Rich Balchan was as surprised as anybody when he scored the Crew's game-tying goal in second-half stoppage time last Saturday against the New York Red Bulls.

"It was awesome," said Balchan, a rookie midfielder-defender out of Indiana University. "I haven't scored in four years, since my freshman year in college, so I was shocked. You could tell by my facial expression after I scored."

The goal was the latest sign that Balchan is fitting right in with the Crew. He's been a fixture in the starting lineup this season, playing every position on the back line plus shifting recently to the central midfield role that led to Saturday's dramatic finish.

Balchan has made the occasional rookie mistake, but coach Robert Warzycha said he's been pleased with the player selected 12th overall in the MLS SuperDraft.

"That's why he's on the field," Warzycha said.

Balchan has been getting along just as well off the field. Born in Michigan and raised in Indiana, he hasn't had much trouble adjusting to Ohio living. With his parents only three hours away, he's able to see his family at Crew home games.

He and rookie goalkeeper Alex Riggs live in Little Turtle next door to fellow young guns Justin Meram and Eric Gehrig.

"The rookies are all kind of a tight-knit group," Balchan said. "We all get along. The veterans have been very welcoming to us."

The only snag in Balchan's Columbus experience thus far has been the chilly response to his passionate Michigan Wolverines fandom. Both of Balchan's parents went to college at Michigan.

"When Jim Tressel resigned, I left a tweet about how Michigan's going to dominate now," Balchan said, "and so many Columbus people freaked out on me."