Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Leg 2 Preview: Columbus Crew at Monterrey


Columbus Crew were a minute and ten seconds away from going to Monterrey up 2-1. 

But I just imagine someone from New Jersey saying "thaaaat's a CONCACAF Champions League." 

Just one of those things in the history of this tournament. The Mexican team always finds the luck even if they don't play that good. 

Think if Columbus did win would like their chances. 

Think Columbus still have to like their chances in comparison at least to Toronto FC who last night went to Estadio Azteca already down 3-1. 

But, it's about time that the Columbus Crew start showing up in this 2021 season. 

They have been pathetic in Major League Soccer so far. Not so much defensively, but offensively. 

In addition, Columbus could and should have won actually 3 or 4-1 last week at home against Monterrey. 

But, instead highlight above.

Well hey we did beat Real Esteli by a lot once! 

Columbus Crew have to start manning up this season and getting some results or it may never happen. 

Time to get it together here. 

Oddly, I'm saying we win 3-1. Two goals by Alex Matan. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Preview: Monterrey at Columbus Crew

Monterrey (7-4-5) comes into this game against the Columbus Crew currently placed in 4th in the Liga MX table. 

Monterrey are already 5 wins (15 points) behind Cruz Azul for the number one spot.

So for Columbus they are lucky not to draw Cruz Azul (on 40 points) or Club America (on 35 points) like Toronto and Portland did respectively. 

Yet, can promise the black and gold will have their hands quite full enough. Monterrey are about 40 times the team compared to Real Esteli. 

The Argentine Rogelio Funes Mori is Monterrey's (on 25 points) big dangerman at striker. But, Rogelio hasn't scored in four games since against San Luis at the beginning of April. 

In 33 appearances during the current Clasura and Apetura, Rogelio has 15 goals. But, has yet to start a CONCACAF Champions League game as he came off the bench in the 2nd leg against Atletico Pantoja. 

Vincent Janssen, Dorlan Pabon, and Jose Perez played up top. 

An interesting aspect should be what sort of formation Monterrey employs at Columbus. If it's three up top they may not respect Columbus's danger. If it's one up top like Monterrey usually does in the Liga MX than they are more worried about the danger that Columbus presents. 

Another key indicator is who they start. As they sat their starting goalkeeper, nearly their entire starting backline, and striker Funes Mori against Atletico Pantoja.

On the Columbus side of things, let's hope that nine days after a 0-0 tie at home against the Philadelphia Union (Inter Miami dispatched the Union at home this weekend with relative ease) that some lessons have been learned. 

Columbus needs to come out more aggressive and go for it. If the Crew gain another tie at home or anything else other than a win... Then let's hope it will not be a see you in ten more years CONCACAF Champions League.

My lineup:



Santos-----------------------------------------------------------Diaz (although already wish it was Matan)




Prediction: I'll say 2-1 Columbus. But it depends how focused they are and if they want to finish their chances. A bit too carefree at home in both aspects against Philadelphia. 

Monday, April 19, 2021

Crew starts 2021 sprint off with 0-0 tie


That was one of the better 0-0 ties I've seen in a while. 

Great 0-0 ties bring about the same joy as a viewable romantic movie to me. Not much. 

Would a win have been much more gratifying? Yes. Am I terribly upset? I don't think. 

It's too early to read much into. 

If you did have much of a reaction to yesterday may I remind you that both Columbus and Philadelphia grabbed the biggest trophies in 2020, so we weren't playing Austin or Cincinnati at home. 

In addition, both teams have two wins in the CONCACAF Champions League so far going in. So, the Union are not wondering into their first game of the year. 

They also don't have as much depth so have played the same roster for all three games. So as an eleven they may be more on one page currently. 

Yet, that starting eleven is probably one of the top four opponents Columbus could face in week one. 

Columbus should have figured them out better offensively. But they will. 

So a draw is okay. It's not a loss at home to Montreal. We did that last year and won MLS Cup. 

If is a choice, between figuring it out against the Union at home or a Massive figure it out at home against Monterrey in nine days. I'll take the latter. 

Further, believe that was much closer to the best that Philadelphia had than the best Columbus had. The Columbus Crew were somewhere between 1st gear and looking for a parking spot speed. 

Not that they weren't trying. Just not clicking on many cylinders yet. 

Some questions will take a few weeks.

How are new puzzle pieces like Perry Kitchen (who did well), Bradley Wright-Phillips, and Alexandru Matan going to get in the flow?

Will Luis Diaz begin to bring more goals and assists if he starts until Molino is back? 

The guy has great moments but doesn't seem to finish chances.

Will the injury bug that has begun with a fury get some Raid or continue? 

We will see depending on the severity of Pedro Santos's substitution injury yesterday.

We may have to start praying to Jobu.
We may have to start praying to Jobu.

Columbus Crew isn't the finished product yet. I just hope the yellow polygons can sustain their depth to get the chance to get there.

Aidan Morris is gone already for 2021 with an ACL injury. Molino is still about 5 to 7 weeks away.

The one thing that wouldn't surprise me is if we see much more of Alexandru Matan over the coming weeks on that left wing. Perhaps faster than expected.

The one thing I thought was missing in the 1st half was passing connectivity in midfield. 

Luis Diaz is on his island. Pedro Santos is on his island. Lucas Zelarayan is on his. 

None did bad on their islands... But I wouldn't mind seeing someone who could connect with Zelarayan more in midfield, build more possession in that part of the field compared to just a quick one touch. 

Regardless, my thoughts are a tie against a good team home or away isn't a disaster. That was the main goal, not to begin the season in a Steve Clark inception format.

Looking on, Major League Soccer really helped us (don't say that much) by giving Columbus Crew a bye for Week 2.

As for example, Philadelphia has to play Inter Miami late at night this upcoming Saturday and then Atlanta United three days later in the CONCACAF Champions League next Tuesday. 

Columbus has nothing else to focus on until Monterrey at home in nine days on April 28th. 

And that should be the main focus currently. Getting to the next CONCACAF round in August. 

After those games we have about 3 and a 1/2 months just to focus on Major League Soccer. We will be fine there too.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Crew interested in "The Sprinter" Balic


#Crew96 according to Kristian Dyer are one of five MLS teams interested in the 25 year old Austrian Husein Balic. The LASK Linz player is known as one of the fastest players in soccer (LINK). He can play left, right wings, and attacking midfield.

However, I wonder if the Crew's interest was before the Crew officially signed Matan? As Columbus already has Zelarayan, Molino, Santos, Etienne, Diaz, and Matan to keep happy in attacking midfield positions.

I'm assuming a guy that is a starter in Austria and in the Europa League won't find a ton of joy with a game in every three in Major League Soccer.

Interesting enough in the above clip you may recognize someone on the sideline though. Former Columbus Crew player Emanuel Pogatetz is Balic's assistant coach currently at LASK Linz.

Balic has 29 appearances, 9 goals, 3 assists this season. The above are two goals in the Europa League.

Monday, March 8, 2021

CAREER BREAKDOWN: Matan officially signs with #Crew96


The 21 year old Alexandru Matan became the first Romanian player in Columbus Crew history yesterday. 

The Columbus Crew acquired Matan for $1.8 million from Viitorul FC. Viitorul means "future" in Romanian. That's no mistake, the club's goal is to promote as many players as possible from their academy. The club was founded in 2009 and is owned by Romanian soccer legend, Georghe Hagi. Hagi has played for Real Madrid, Barcelona and is as a result known as "The Maradona of The Carpathians."

Matan, as one of "Hagi's kids" graduated from the academy making his first team debut on May 6th, 2016. Overall, Matan made 66 appearances for Viitorui. In addition, Alex made 26 appearances on loan in the middle of that spell for opposing Romanian Liga 1 side Voluntari. 

Therefore, at 21 years of age Matan already has 92 appearances in a solid European league. In Viitorui's currently ongoing 20/21 season Matan had 22 appearances, 20 starts, a goal, and six assists. 

Some of Matan's best club goals:

At the international level Matan has actually been more prolific in front of goal. He's scored 10 goals in 17 appearances for the Romanian U-17, U-18, U-19, and U-21's combined. In comparison he has 5 in club play. But perhaps could be how Viitorui plays?

The U-19's were a real wild time with Matan scoring 8 goals in 6 games. I would perhaps hire that coach as an assistant. 😅

Some of his international goals:

U-19 numbers were boosted by four goals against minnows Gibraltar here. As Matan had goals 1,2,3, and 6 in this game:
But Alex also scored against Russia & Sweden and Serbia twice at the U-19 level.

Despite paying Viitorui $1.8 million for Alex Matan which was actually the 3rd highest Columbus Crew transfer fee...

The highest being for Lucas Zelarayan last year for $7 million. These Haslam's are okay. 😅

And likely paying Matan somewhere in the $400,000-$600,000 K per year range on a multi-year contract... Matan will still only count as $200,000 on the Columbus Crew salary cap.  

From Jacob Myers story yesterday on Matan's acquisition (LINK)

Therefore, if Columbus actually needs more players they could possibly go after two more Matan's if they so desire. 

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Crewture Weekly For 2/21 to 2/28


Just a countdown of the top things that occurred over the last week. 

Costa Rican U-23's played in two friendlies against Honduras U-23's last week to prepare for Olympic qualifiers. A 0-0 tie that Diaz and the other two MLS players featured in, but all three had to come back for MLS preseason and missed the 2nd friendly. LINK.