Welcome to Crewture.

Which stands for Crew and Culture, and follows Crew supporter culture. Created around the Nordecke creation and used to follow the rise of the new supporters section which is now 9 years old.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

GAME PREVIEW: Columbus attempts to return to hot start, DC United attempts to get started

Missing in action: Wil Trapp and Zack Steffen are on international duty with the USA. While D.C. midfielders Zoltan Steiber is with Hungary and Ulises Segura is with Costa Rica.

D.C. UNITED (0-1-2) - 2 points- 8th place in East AT COLUMBUS CREW (2-0-1) - 7 points- 2nd place in East

The first 135 minutes of the season the Columbus Crew were red hot, up 4-0 on goals forwarded and on the way to two straight wins.

The next 135 minutes they've been outscored 2-1.

Yet their one goal in that second stanza was enough to escape/ limp to a home victory against Montreal. 

Then Columbus settled for a rather bore tie on the road in Philadelphia.

If Columbus could they would like to regain their previous momentum rather quick. 

Yet international friendlies may complicate such a successful effort. 

As Columbus captain, midfielder Wil Trapp and goalkeeper Zack Steffen have both been called up to the United States national team for an exhibition next week against Paraguay.

In preparation, Trapp and Steffen will be absent this Saturday against D.C. United.

This ends a stretch of 37 consecutive regular-season games in which both were in the starting lineup.

However, Berhalter says he's excited that two new guys are going to play. 

At goalkeeper, the one new guy is heads or tails between Logan Ketterer and Jon Kempin. At defensive midfield, the second new man up is heads or tails between Ricardo Clark and Mohammed Abu.

Yet based on which players looked better in preseason I would give the nod to Ketterer and Clark.

As Abu's turnover led to a goal in the Battery vs. Crew preseason contest and the end of Berhalter's lineup alterations in that game.

Berhalter being down surprisingly 1-0 to the Battery at half; put more of his starters back in to begin the second half along with Ketterer and Clark.

The Crew won 2-1.

I would plugin similar substitutions to hopefully gain a similar result this Saturday.

D.C. United have a similar amount of key starters out this week from international friendlies. 

Yet think it could strangely turnout more beneficial for D.C. as they are still experimenting on what works best for them, have not found it yet.

D.C. will be missing two starters in midfield from their last game against Houston,  as Zoltan Stieber is with Hungary and Ulises Segura is with Costa Rica.

Nevertheless could lead to a better result through more of a opportunity for players that should perhaps be more of the vocal point. 

Paul Arriola, Ian Harkes, and Chris Durkin could all receive starts this week and are all more than capable.

Projected DC LINEUP (4-2-3-1, right to left)
GK - David Ousted — Nick DeLeon, Frederic Brillant, Steve Birnbaum, Joseph Mora — Ian Harkes, Chris Durkin — Paul Arriola, Yamil Asad, Luciano Acosta — Darren Mattocks

Crewture Prediction: I have a weird feeling that the unexpectedness of MLS Soccer bites the Crew this week and somehow D.C.'s one win on the season is against us in Columbus.

Yet being at home I'll lean more towards sanity and say 2-0 Crew.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Columbus Crew attempting to acquire another Newell's Old Boys youngster in Joaquin Torres. NOB fans not happy.

The same journalist that broke the Milton Valenzuela news first last November, Manuel Cabrera, is back again with Columbus apparently after another NOB player.

This time it's 21 year old right midfielder Joaquin Torres

However, Torres has been in the Crew sights for just as long as Milton Valenzuela.

At the same time Columbus let their Valenzuela interest known last November, their interest in Joaquin Torres was mentioned as well by Planet Newell's then.

I posted that mention of Torres in the following tweet back on November 9th:
And on here in my first Valenzuela mention on Crewture.

But, the Valenzuela deal, a need for a left back was the priority at that time so the Torres mention was rather overlooked.

NOB fans are not particularly pleased with this new transfer rumor.

This was about the context of every response on Cabrera's tweets from today.

The Valenzuela to Columbus move was actually more popular, okay there... And look how that has turned out.

Can understand it though if you look at what Joaquin Torres was up to for NOB in their last game four days ago.

If I was Cristian Martinez would not be a bad week to get a goal or two.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

GAME PREVIEW: Philly's high press versus Columbus's ability to play out of the back.

My lineup: There are things that Columbus will have to do better this week. But, if it's not broke, still getting wins, don't fix it. Just improve it.

COLUMBUS CREW (2-0-0) - 6 points- 1st place in East vs. PHILADELPHIA UNION (1-0-0) - 3 points- 4th place in East

"With all due respect, Columbus isn’t Barcelona so we’ll have chances when we’re at home," said Union midfielder Haris Medunjanin.

“We’re still working on how to press higher up,” Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya said. “That’s what we want to do. Tactically I think the wingers have to do a better job than we did last year in terms of when we do press high to block the passing lanes and win higher balls and not let teams play out of the back so easily.”

I think what could help the Columbus Crew most is oddly not to go up by multiple goals so early in the game; as that led to more moments of hesitation and question marks later on, not as steadfast decisions around the field and the Impact found a way back in.

"There are going to be moments where maybe we can take the ball and maybe attack the goal a little bit quicker and maybe score quicker if we press really good against them because they will take a lot of risks,” that's a lot of maybe's there from Haris "Maybe" Medunjanin.

Actually I think when Columbus takes risks and doesn't second guess them they're best. Yet it's hard for any team not to get into game protection mode up 2-0 so early.

Actually Columbus looks best when they high press a lot themselves. As Columbus's high pressure early against Toronto and a lot of times in preseason was very good. 

I don't think Philadelphia has the same players capable of handling a high press like Columbus does.

Especially defensively and mainly at center-back. 

Trusty had his first start at center-back last week and Elliot is not too far ahead. 

That's one of the positives about playing often out of the back. You can handle a high press better.

I think Columbus should go out and do what Philadelphia is planning to do but better; As there is only one side out there that won't be able to cope with it as well. 

Philadelphia are a better side then they've have been. But, they have A LOT of new guys.

They have a new "marquee" signing that I've never heard of in my life in Czech Republic International Borek Dockal, on loan from China (yeah no joke).

Related image

But he would be a new part as well if he does start over Fontana at the no. 10 position this Saturday.

Regardless whether Dockal or Fontana, we win at that position with Federico Higuain.

My starting lineup for Columbus:

I debated putting surprisingly Luis Argudo in as the first sub to get a start for the Columbus Crew in 2018.

It's possible considering he comes in earlier and earlier. In addition, he was the one fouled last week to gain the winning penalty for Columbus in the 93rd minute.

I was definitely going to put him in if his substitution was right after the first goal. But, it was right before so if anything he would be the right midfielder culpable for the lack of support for Harrison Afful.

Not Cristian Martinez.

Courtesy of Columbus Crew

But more than likely he makes a substitution appearance again, perhaps Ricardo Clark sees his first Crew minutes at some period in the 2nd half as well.

Prediction: 2-0 Crew win. Crew set things right again, high press, startle Philadelphia on the road similar to they did in Toronto. Goals by Zardes and Federico.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Opening weekend in Columbus

Photo by Sameh Fahmi/Massive Report. Link to full gallery.

In Austin. They won't have a theme song "Africa by Toto." They won't have monikers surrounding the team like Massive, they won't have a Nordecke, they won't have places like Ruby Tuesday's.

Ruby's back in 2008.
I went to Ruby Tuesday's on Saturday before the game for a supporter's breakfast and the march to the stadium.

When the Nordecke began in 2008 Ruby Tuesday's was the hangout place. Thousands of Nordeckians began their Saturday there.

Since then groups went to other places for their pregame rituals and fan bonding. 

Even Hudson Street Hooligans left as they started their own bar.

But, this past Saturday some of Hudson Street and Gate 5 Collective were there.

A lot of people I haven't seen at Ruby's since 2008 were on hand.

Grant, Jackman, Goshert, T-Bone, Robyn, and about 20 others. 

Almost was an impromptu, unexpected ten year 2008 Nordecke fan reunion.

I haven't been there myself since the 2008 MLS Cup win.

It was fantastic to see everyone and see ten years later they all look the same and they all feel the same about the Columbus Crew.

If you want to go somewhere to get a good interview on what Columbus Crew means. I would suggest this is the place to begin.

It felt right, like home again. 

On the game side of things, I felt we got lucky. 

Columbus Crew picked up first half with a similar intensity to the prior week in Toronto.

After 15 minutes, they were up 2-0.

Then with the more comfortable then it looks 2-0 lead, always a dangerous lead in soccer which every commentator must point out like it generates money if mentioned 😅the Crew players relaxed a bit mentally.

Montreal quickly made it 2-1 in the second half. 

I was like "ok wow. Maybe I'm going to guess the lineup and score correctly for the second week in a row."

I predicted a 2-0 win last week and predicted a 3-1 win this week and then it became 2-2.

Montreal hit the crossbar twice as well and two of our goals were gained through penalty kicks so it was a "take the three points and run" result considering.

Pic by Sameh Fahmi/Massive Report

We deserved a tie.

Columbus was sort of bailed out in the 93rd minute; as Raheem Edwards tripped and fell on Luis Argudo in the penalty area. 

The team did some things great again, there are some things they'll have to do better to keep the win streak going next Saturday in Philadelphia.

Which in a way could be what this team needed after winning six out of seven in preseason and kicking Toronto's ass last week in Toronto.

A wake up that they are not there yet.

I wonder whether to predict the same lineup again or if a change or two is coming up next week for Columbus? Do you see any?

Man of the Match: Gyasi Zardes

Review of Save The Crew: The Battle For Columbus:

The night before the game Sean Kelly debuted his new film Save The Crew: The Battle for Columbus at the Gateway Film Center in downtown Columbus.

Overall, I thought the video was good and achieved it's purpose.

I was expecting the first film with a few new scenes added in. Wasn't that as it was a completely different movie.

Because that's the case don't really get why the first #SaveTheCrew movie (that was more fan-orientated compared to player, Austin orientated) was taken off of YouTube?

In this version, I really enjoyed the parts where Alejandro Moreno talked about 2008 MLS Cup and the goal he scored.

I thought the Austin parts were a bit dragged out and a tad tedious, boring.

I bought tickets for both the 7 o'clock and 9:30 showings last month. I'm from out of town and had a three hour trip, was spending the night so had no other plans.

Yet at 9:30, I thought "maybe I'll just stay for the first 60% of the film this time, just the fun part." 

But, the audience was even more rambunctious and amusing at the second showing. As the crowd was yelling at the screen non-stop (perhaps because the players were no longer there) so decided this is fun and stayed.

I do get including Austin as their story is important too. Kind of like Thomas Lincoln's story is to Abraham Lincoln. I mean losing a two year USL team is about the same as losing the Columbus Crew. So had a hard time listening, figuring out what the hell they were trying to say? But may have helped if they were at least compelling or interesting. 

That Babetski guy and the guy in the Austin Aztex shirt had me like... 😴 It was nice to see Chris Bils, a local sportswriter who seems to be Erickson competent. But, no Morgan Hughes is present in Austin in a speaker sense.

Including them all would've made more sense if the second film is a replacement for the first on YouTube and then available to a wider soccer audience compared to just Crew fans. 

As that may help form opinions of a broader group of soccer fans if there was any other correct opinion?

But, this film will not be on YouTube as some rights are not owned or something so that means they cannot put it on YouTube. I also heard one or two people mention a possible third film on Saturday.

If that's the case turns into a miniseries. Hoping Precourt just sells before that. 

Thanks but no thanks.

Anyways, Die Innenstadt fans were at least amusing, interesting, added something. As haven't heard their points of view.

Chris Bils interview was aggressively edited, his clip was cut around which was strange as it would cut and he would still be saying the same thing somehow when it began again.

The only Austin-related clip that I found sweet, revealing was Garber and Precourt broing out in March 2017 at the South by Southwest tour. That was a good find.

But was something else seeing a portion of the 2008 squad again and listening to them speak.

The first part of the film was very cool and regardless the entirety was one of the better ways to spend a Crewsmas Eve. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

In week two more of the same for the Columbus Crew

It requires one massive team effort to take down the MLS champions (Giovinco, Altidore, Bradley, et al.) at their home.

Doing so was only achieved once last year. 

One game into 2018 however that mark has already been attained, tied by the Columbus Crew. 

“They kept us pinned in our half more than we are used to and more than we wanted to,” Toronto FC defender Eriq Zavaleta said.

Even if it was in Canada, Giovinco wasn't impressed with a very American way.

One that seems to especially occur in Major League Soccer.

Celebrate as many things as you can as much as you can.

“At the beginning, it was not in a good way; we continued to show the trophy, we continued to think [about] what happened last year. I think, for me, this is no good,” Giovinco stated.

He later added: “I think we have to change the mentality. We don’t have to think about last year – we have to think about this year, and this year is more difficult.”


MAN OF THE MATCH: Federico Higuain. A goal, a lot of strong passes into space to create attempts, a few backheel passes that hit the mark.

Federico makes everyone around him look good. But, everyone around him is also making him look even better, more relaxed this season.

For Columbus it's more of the same in week two.

I expect different substitutions but Berhalter should have no problem running out the same starting eleven against Montreal.

Also the opener was the only time I predicted the lineup 100% (think anyone could've) and also predicted the score.

I guess Giovinco would agree with the above, they were stuck celebrating last year. 

But, think Columbus's new additions are just better than Toronto's.

In week one, Montreal were downed by Vancouver 2-1.

3/10 Prediction: Think it will take Remi Garde a while to figure out Major League Soccer and it's not going to happen this week in Columbus.

If anything the result will be worse this week.

This week it will be 3-1 instead of 2-1 to Columbus. Goals by Zardes twice and Martinez.

Defense is improved but figure one hiccup is likely somewhere. If not and two shutouts to start the season. Color me impressed.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Opening day expected roster against Toronto FC

Gregg Berhalter had moments where he fiddled around in preseason. 

Especially in the Pacific Rim Cup and in the first half of the preseason game against USL opponents, the Charleston Battery.

But, eventually Berhalter always seemed to come back to playing this eleven together. 

Why you may ask? 

In my opinion, this eleven looks stronger as a unit compared to any eleven of last year's Crew. 

When you consider Columbus traded away 31 goals this offseason, that sounds preposterously psychotic

Further, at the inception of preseason, I never saw those thoughts escaping my head.

Yet in another regard may be stranger. As in reality not many positions are remarkably different from 2017. There were only three (four if you count Santos on the left side) positions taken up by new players in a starting eleven this preseason. 

However, those additions complement the whole puzzle very well.

I think Cristian Martinez and Pedro Santos next to, with Wil Trapp and Artur behind Federico Higuain just complements Federico and makes him extremely comfortable and at ease.

Before the preseason began, the big question was how would the Crew replace Justin Meram on the left hand side of midfield?

Well, Berhalter moved Pedro Santos from the right hand side to the left.

Santos could be even better on the left side. Or just more comfortable this year with the Columbus Crew. 

While Berhalter's three year project, Panamanian U-20 player Cristian Martinez, appears to be fully in his maturation stage on that right hand side.

Regardless both players can play both sides and switch. 

Martinez, Sanchez switched right and left midfield midway through the first half in the Charleston Battery game.

What could I be forgetting? Oh Gyasi Zardes. 😅

The addition of Gyasi Zardes looks somehow to even be an improvement. As Berhalter has a magic lamp and keeps finding the next Kei, the next Ola.

Zardes scored six goals in preseason.

Zardes looks stronger, faster, and perhaps even a better finisher compared to Ola. 

Ola Kamara was great, would love to still have him. But, Ola had a head scratcher or two in the finishing department last year.

Yet, the biggest improvement offensively and defensively could be Milton Valenzuela at left back.

Seems crazy that he is a nineteen year old and looks like a seasoned professional. 

Throughout preseason, to an uninformed observer Valenzuela looks more like the Crew's left back for years.

And I add offensively because Valenzuela is able to get up the field (similar to Harrison Afful) he has an engine and that's where it all begins for Columbus.

The starting eleven could change eventually. Yet I'm much happier than I expected to be. 

Once the Crew's depth gets healthier, could see a position or two up for grabs nevertheless.

I could see Gaston Sauro fighting Lalas Abubukar for the other starting CB spot.

I also could see Mike Grella giving Cristian Martinez some competition.

Grella is more of a left midfielder. However, that could mean Pedro Santos would just return back to his perhaps preferred right midfield.

Further, would not be surprised if Ricardo Clark finds himself with some starts as he has looked strong in preseason when he has been on the field.

Regardless, I think this starting eleven can take their six out of seven preseason wins and plus 8 goal differential to Toronto and put up a result this Saturday. 

This group are strong enough to give Michael Bradley, Kurt Larson, and that glorious band of red trouble on March 3rd. Can shake up the power rankings straight away.

Plus, I think Toronto will still be stuck celebrating last year. Perhaps like us in 2016, although doubt it will last anywhere near as long.

Predicted result: 2-0 Crew win. Goals by Zardes and Santos.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Game thoughts against Minnesota United in Carolina Challenge Cup

A lot of spectating to be had by Minnesota United yesterday (Picture by Devin Lamoreaux).

If one had no idea and had to guess which club had relocation perhaps on the horizon, I presume most would pick the gray club.

No DP's, along with speculative talent on the field overall for Minnesota United made yesterday's result not up for much debate.

It was always Columbus in control and winning. 

Possession and chances were all Columbus Crew and they converted two chances in the 31st and 36th minute. After that, game was in a cozy and comfortable cruise control for Columbus.

The win made it six out of seven victories for the Crew in preseason. The only Crew preseason loss came against Consadole Sapporo. 

But, when you consider Harrison Afful had a great goal incorrectly ruled offsides in that Pacific Rim Cup contest, in actuality should be six wins and a tie this preseason.

Therefore, the Crew on the field has been near perfect this preseason.

To conclude the positive preseason results, the Crew won all three of their games in the Carolina Challenge Cup to win that title for the second year in a row.

It appears Crew headman Gregg Berhalter has a solid eleven sorted out for the opener against Toronto.

I hope Columbus takes all of their preseason confidence into Toronto. 

Any chance to quiet Toronto (e.g. Michael Bradley, Kurt Larson) and there "look at me!" majesty is a welcome event.

CREWTURE.NET's MAN of the MATCH: Gyasi Zardes

Zardes almost received the honor the last game and probably deserved it more so. But, gave the nod to Edward Opoku as his menacing on the right side created an assist and kept alive the second goal opportunity that led to an Afful pass and Zardes goal.

Probably gave the last one to Opoku more out of surprise.

But, with six goals in five games this preseason, the man of preseason for Columbus has been Zardes.

The secondary or follow up story has been that midfield.

As it looks very comfortable, the most comfortable it has recently ever looked behind a striker.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Game thoughts against Charleston Battery in Carolina Challenge Cup

Santos competes first half on both wings. Picture by Zach Bland

Don't know how helpful the 1st half was? A bit of a mess with a group of 11 that will likely never start together again in 2018 or well ever.

Not much possession or much of anything that resembled Crew soccer. 

The only interesting moment, Cristian Martinez and Pedro Santos switched left and right wing mid-half. Interesting that this could be a rinkle during games this season. Also, Santos in particular had some good moments.

Mohammed Abu's turnover that led to Charleston's goal was a miserable moment.

I found the following commentary interestingly odd to start the second half. 

"Milton Valenzuela is trying out for this team." What the hell is Thomas Rongen talking about?! Valenzuela is our signed young DP so would say he made the team.

Rongen had some questionable talking points at the beginning of the game as well. Guess you get to a certain point where you no longer study for commentary before games.

2nd half was saved via Opoku to Zardes. Opoku is blindingly fast and has a future. In addition, Opoku can send in a devastatingly effective cross or three as well.

I guess we found out why Opoku is a Generation Adidas player and why Major League Soccer teams perhaps shouldn't account so much for draft week performances.

On the other hand of that duo, Zardes had the game he needed after disappearing the game prior against Atlanta United.

It's definite Zardes is going to have a year under Gregg Berhalter as the striker for once.

He can not only finish perhaps just as effectively or more so then Ola Kamara. He is much faster.

Luis Argudo had some surprisingly good moments as well second half. Argudo has had a few over preseason games and I think the late draft pick will find himself with a Crew offer before the season begins.

CREWTURE.NET Man of the Match: Edward Opoku

It was a tough call between Gyasi Zardes and Edward Opoku as both deserved it. But, Zardes has shown his effectiveness this preseason already with four goals. Zardes showed it even more so yesterday by making it six.

But, Opoku just had the half of his preseason terrorizing the Battery on the right wing.

Opoku not only had an assist on the first goal but on the second his effort blazing around the right side led to the turnover that led to the goal.

Excellent half that adds him into a serious conversation on the wings. At the least as a second half substitute.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Columbus Crew 2018 season preview

Santos and Artur I could see stepping up as leaders this season compared to last.

2017 Record: 16-12-6, 5th place in the Eastern Conference
Coach: Gregg Berhalter
Key Additions: FWD Gyasi Zardes (Los Angeles Galaxy), DEF Milton Valenzuela (Newell's Old Boys), MID Mike Grella (New York Red Bulls), MID Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), MID Eduardo Sosa (Zamora), GK Jon Kempin (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Key Departures: MID Justin Meram, FWD Ola Kamara

The Big Question: Who will replace the 31 Justin Meram, Ola Kamara goals in 2018?

A legitimate fear of Columbus Crew fans but unlikely anywhere close to the Crew fans biggest fear as this season goes on.

However, how easily Columbus dominated Atlanta United in the opener of the Carolina Challenge Cup, along with Columbus averaging 2.8 goals a game this preseason on the way to winning 4 out of 5 so far, perhaps they'll be okay?

I think rather surprisingly, pains me even to say.. Columbus may be quicker and have more ball skill in midfield currently with Santos, Artur, and Martinez surrounding Higuain.

In addition, Zardes is definitely quicker then Ola was and if he gets that final pass he's gone. He's shown he can finish (as much as preseason can show) so far in this system.

It's been debated if the high goal scoring for strikers, at least those with the capability to finish an opportunity, has more to do with Berhalter's system compared to what either Kamara has done in particular.

But, so far, what I find optimistic is Zardes barely had a sniff of the ball, was completely shut down against Atlanta United and Columbus still scored three goals.

In addition, Columbus likes to push up it's wing backs and that has definitely improved. In 2015, it was Harrison Afful and Waylon Francis. But, Francis declined a bit and his replacement or sharer of time, Jukka Raitala, was a bit of an odd choice at that position last year.
Wasn't particularly fast or could get up the field like Afful.

By playoffs, Hector Jimenez (who isn't even a left back) was the starting left back over both.

In comparison, Milton Valenzuela is the real deal.

Harrison Afful finally has someone comparable on the other wing. May help the offense more then anything. Both in ability to turn it into another gear and get up the field along with consistency in that position.

In addition, I think the departures allows some fresh blood to step up.

Players like Santos, Artur will be relied on more to lead compared to if things stayed the status quo. I think it's possible the Crew could end up better from it.

Area to keep an eye on: Defense and team cohesion, playing time, keeping everyone happy.

Gaston Sauro is returning to fitness which could be good for the defense. But, then that leads to Sauro, Mensah, Abubukar, Crognale, and Williams fighting over two positions.

I just want Berhalter this season to find TWO CENTER BACK STARTERS and stick with them. In 2017, one game it would be Mensah and Williams, the next Mensah and Abubukar, the next Mensah and Crognale.

Sure they are all talented but you can't build cohesion that way.

When Columbus picked a goalkeeper with their first round pick in the MLS SuperDraft I thought well that's strange. As that added Ben Lundgaard to Steffen, Kempin, and Ketterer. So, basically three guys fighting over no position since it's Zack Steffen's position.

I guess they are perhaps fighting for the Riverhounds goalkeeper position? My apologies Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC* goalkeeper position.

Considering how solid Cristian Martinez looked on the right side in the last game. I'm also sure Clark and Grella won't enjoy extended periods of time on the bench if that continues.

Just think Berhalter really stocks up on some positions and leaves some positions to one guy and says "let's hope that works."

Outcome: Second place

I'm of the opinion that unlike most Major League Soccer teams Columbus may have some added motivation to win any game this year from March to November.

I'm also of the opinion that losing Justin Meram and Ola Kamara will not be as detrimental as it first may have appeared.

If Berhalter picks a starting eleven in March instead of by August, Crew end up in second place.

If he tinkers with keeping all five guys at some positions happy we end up back in fifth.