Monday, August 24, 2009

8/24/09: The Crew Know How To Deal

The Columbus Crew have made some of the most ambitious moves and near moves in recent MLS history. GM Mark McCullers and his coaching staff(be it Sigi Schmid or Robert Warzycha) have done well over the last four years at luring talent to Columbus despite the Crew's small wage bill. If anything I expect new Crew signing Emilio Renteria to be a successful story (like Schelotto) because of the Crew's transfer history over the last couple of years. A transfer history that has shown extreme competence at getting a lot for a small price. Here's a little history on the hits and near hits during the McCullers era.

Even on the near hits it's important to understand that these players were about to put pen to paper, unlike other MLS teams who are associated with big names but it turns out to be just fluff and rumor.


Michael Chopra - January-February 2006
The 22 year old Newcastle player at the time was very close to putting pen to paper with a deal to take him stateside with the Crew in the winter of 2006. Chopra was on his way to Columbus until he was inserted into a FA Cup game for injured starter Michael Owen, scored, and then started against Manchester City the next game, and played until Owen came back.

A quote from McCullers via the Columbus Dispatch on Feb. 3, 2006:
"It was a pretty good example of the fishing expedition, as (coach Sigi Schmid) likes to describe it," general manager Mark McCullers said. "We had him in the boat and then he got off. That's the way it goes in the international market."

Chopra, now 25, has had the most success with Cardiff City and after a spell with Sunderland is back with the Welsh based Championship club. Chopra is off to a cracker of a 2009 season, with 7 goals in 4 appearances.

Although Chopra may be a daft goalscorer, he hasn't had as much success though hanging on to wives as of late. :-)

Here's a video of Chopra:

Maciej Zurawski - January 2008
Maciej Zurawski was the captain of the Polish national team at the time and had a solid career at Wisla Krakow and Celtic, before going out of favor with Celtic's manager. Looking for a new club in 2008, Zurawski was all but a done deal the night before the transfer window deadline. But, when everyone awhoke the next day, Zurawski was headed to Greece to play for Larissa.

Here's a Columbus Dispatch article from that time period.

Since then the Polish striker has dropped out of the national team picture and even though he scored 15 goals in 38 appearances for Larissa, Zurawski has moved to the Cyprus league. It appears that the deal for Zurawski falling through wasn't too much of a downer after all since the Cypriot League isn't exactly a powerhouse. USL-2 probably is a more competitive level.


Eddie Gaven- March 29, 2006
Crew traded Edson Buddle for Eddie Gaven and Chris Leitch
It took Eddie Gaven about a year and a half to get going with the Crew, but the last year and a half has been well worth it. Gaven is a terror on the wing and has upped his production. 100 times the player that he was traded for in Edson Buddle.

Here's a story about the deal.

Apparently we can thank resident TFC dummy Mo Johnston for handing us Gaven for Buddle. So, thanks TFC!

Alejandro Moreno - May 10, 2007
Crew Traded Joseph Ngwenya for Alejandro Moreno
Since this deal, Venezuelan international Alejandro Moreno has made 67 appearances scoring 20 goals for the Crew. Joseph Ngwenya only made 25 appearances for Houston scoring 7 goals before jetsetting to Europe and only scoring 1 goal for Antalyspor in 11 appearances since. Ngwenya was another striker like Buddle who lacked focus.

Brian Carroll- November 26, 2007
Crew traded Kei Kamara for Brian Carroll
Brian Carroll who was a pillar for DC United and was almost signed by Olympique de Marsielle, was picked up by the Crew from San Jose for hot head Kei Kamara. Carroll has played every game since for Columbus, being once again a pillar at defensive midfield while Kamara played 12 games for San Jose before being shipped to Houston. Kamara hasn't faired much better there scoring 9 goals in 30 appearances and being a bench player behind Ching and Landin.

Another huge deal for a midfielder that just gets it done(same could be said about Gaven) for two hotheads who make A.D.D. like decisions in Kei Kamara and Edson Buddle.

William Hesmer- January 2006
Crew traded partial allocation to Toronto FC for William Hesmer
Again feel free to thank TFC as William Hesmer has become a solid goalkeeper making 64 starts since for the Crew while the partial allocation probably helped finance TFC duds like Laurent Robert.

Guillermo Barros Schelotto- April 19, 2007
Crew acquired Guillermo Barros Schelotto from Boca Juniors
The signing that changed it all, Guillermo Barros Schelotto has been a much needed leader and distrubutor in the midfield. In 66 appearances, GBS has 22 goals and picked up 19 assists alone in the Crew's 2008 championship run.

The Crew picked up the 2008 MVP for a $225,000 dollar contract which was a steal. The Crew re-signed Guillermo for over $400,000 dollars in 2009 and Guillermo has awarded the side by scoring 10 goals before an injury sidelined him for the last month.

Emmanuel Ekpo- April 15, 2008
The Crew acquired Ekpo from Enyimba FC of Nigeria
The Crew signed Emmanuel Ekpo for about $125,000 and the Nigerian U-23 international who won a silver medal in the Olympics has been one of the most creative and exciting players to watch for the Crew over the last two years. An excellent scouting job by another solid acquistion for the Crew, scout Brian Bliss.

Ekpo has made 38 appearances scoring 6 goals. And, I believe he will start to really break out soon.

Robbie Rogers- January 2007
Acquired through draft lottery via SC Heerenveen
Good thing the Crew didn't pass on Rogers in the draft lottery like FC Dallas did on Danny Szetela this year. Robbie Rogers is a great young talent and hopefully has a few more years before he jet sets to Europe.

Adam Moffat- September 2007
Acquired from Cleveland City Stars
A player who came on extremely strong at the beginning of 2008. Has had injury problems but the 23 year old Scottish player is healthy once again and will have a solid role with the Crew down the stretch.

Gino Padula- June 2008
Crew acquired Gino Padula from Montpellier HSC
Gino Padula was brought in for a trial with the Crew while the team was over in England, the Crew were so impressed with Padula that they signed him right away. Padula has been a rock at left back, a position that has been a trouble spot for the Crew for years before Padula's arrival.

Emilio Renteria- August 19, 2009
Crew acquired Emilio Renteria from Caracas FC
The Crew overall made the right decision to part ways with Pat Noonan and to bring in a more exciting player like Emilio Renteria as a replacement. Renteria has a powerful shot and has experience in Copa Liberatdores, which will help in CONCACAF Champions League. The young 24 year old talent also cost the Crew less than expected, being salaried at only $100,000 to $150,000. Leaving the Crew with money to go after one similiar player with the Crew's singular open roster spot.

All these moves can be summed up in,

Steven Lenhart
Acquired from Azusa Pacific College
Yes, Azusa Pacific College. Lenhart in all competitions in two seasons for the Crew has 10 goals in 31 appearances. Lenhart embodies the Crew's coaching staff, scouts, and front office smarts because look at some of the guys the Crew picked up. Adam Moffat from Cleveland City, Gino Padula riding the bench in France, William Hesmer not even given a chance from Toronto FC, Eric Brunner from Miami FC, and Steven Lenhart from Azusa Pacific College.

Also, not so shabby draft decisions to pick up guys like Jed Zayner and Jason Garey who have both given solid contributions this season.

What's next?
So with one open roster spot, who will be next to join a solid cast? Whoever it is I'm sure Bliss, McCullers, Warzycha, and company will pick someone who fits and who they can get a lot out of for a little money.


  1. I wouldn't be mad at seeing Cooke join the squad. Nothing exciting, but you know what you're getting.

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