Crystal Palace striker Glenn Murray is looking forward to returning to the City Stadium tonight, a decade after his last appearance at the Virginia venue.
Murray played against Richmond Kickers as an unknown 20-year-old back in 2004 during his brief spell with the Wilmington Hammerheads – making him the only Palace player to have previously plied his trade in the United States of America.
That Stateside stint acted as a platform for Murray to launch his professional career in England, as he returned home with Barrow and Carlisle United, before working his way up the league pyramid.
But the 30-year-old, who has already netted three times for Palace in pre-season, admits it is good to be back in the USA and is looking for revenge over Richmond tonight.
“It’s nice to be back here playing MLS teams and going back to Richmond,” Murray told cpfc.co.uk.
“I played them at the City Stadium during my time at Wilmington. I can’t remember too well as it was a long time ago now, but I think we lost that game. It was a tough place to go.
Playing over here was a good learning curve for me, obviously with living away from home at such a young age and things like that. That was where I got my chance to ultimately become a professional in England as well, so I have fond memories of the States.
“But now that we’re coming towards the end of the tour it will be good to get back home and get the league started.”
Murray’s eagerness to get the Premier League campaign underway stems from an impressive start to his personal pre-season preparations.
The frontman bagged two well-taken strikes in the 13-1 demolition of GAK Graz two weeks ago, before heading home the Eagles’ first goal in the 2-2 draw with Columbus Crew in their opening American tour fixture.
The former Brighton and Hove Albion man admits he is happy with his form in front of goal, but is still looking for improvement in other areas.
“Obviously I’m pleased with that but I’m still trying to get that fitness back first and foremost,” Murray said.
“I’m getting there slowly but surely, I just need that bit more sharpness now and I’m sure that will come in the coming weeks.
“As a group, especially in Austria, we’ve all showed how hard we’re willing to work and how well we’ve kept ourselves in shape over the off season. We were ready to come back and get back into training, so I think we’ve surprised each other really.”
That fitness has allowed Palace to go unbeaten in their first two American tour games – and Murray is keen to maintain that record against USL Pro side Richmond tonight.
“We’ll definitely be looking to round off the tour with a win and there’s no reason why we can’t do that,” he said.
“Against the two so-called better teams – the MLS teams – we’ve won one and we’ve drawn one, so we should do well against Richmond, even though this will be a cup final almost for them.”