Thursday, December 31, 2009

12/31/09: Columbus Possibly Is Successful Because It, Compared To Most MLS Teams, Takes An Olympique Lyonnais Type Approach.



The winners of seven straight titles in France before last year, follow a great model according to Soccernomics by Kuper and Szymanski:

They first, use the wisdom of crowds on new transfer targets. A lot of European teams and their transfers are done by the coach alone as a dictatorship. However, when Lyon sits down to do a transfer a group of men sit down to debate it. Actually around eight men and the coach does not have the lone say. Actually their coaches are always temps, it is the front office directors that must have the staying power.

Columbus at least has three men at their debate table (McCullers, Warzycha, and Bliss)... Possibly even Lapper and Ibribaren have some input. But, compared to most MLS teams, it seems that the technical director and GM have more input. It seems there are definitely three men compared to two or one. And, it seems like Columbus has had a lot less flops over the last two years when it comes to signings (just Nico Hernandez) compared to a team such as Toronto FC. I couldn't even name you the technical director or GM for almost any other MLS teams... The only one I know is Mo Johnston for TFC. So, whatever arrangement the Crew have going on with Bliss the last few years, it is working. Bliss is the eyes and ears, like a Taylor at Nottingham Forest or a LaCombe at Lyon... Keeping Bliss around is, I can imagine, pretty damn important for the Crew.

The best time to buy a player is in his early twenties. Columbus has followed this model with Gaven, Moffat, Ekpo, Rogers, Lenhart, Brunner, Zayner, O'Rourke, even Renteria on the older end, etc. Also, Columbus is, despite Guillermo, Hejduk, and Padula, the youngest team in MLS. Further, Columbus may be even looking to get younger by losing Moreno, by leaving Padula and Hejduk unprotected(Zayner could quite possibly battle for a starting role in 2010), and by Warzycha possibly favoring two young strikers to Guillermo in the attack.

Also, apparently 20 to 22 is the best time to buy because you cannot be sure of what a player will become in their teens. All of the best players in the U-17 World Cups have flamed out, so has the apparently next Pele in the mid-2000's, Freddy Adu. Apparently you can't get a feel for a players real potential until they reach 20 to 22. That means it might be unlikely for the Crew to take a chance on Okugo and McInerney as I once thought in the draft. Possibly, if Akpan drops that far, an Akpan and Gavin scenario would be best.

Help your foreign signings relocate. I wonder if the Crew have a relocation specialist? Because they seem to do an awful damn nice job helping players relocate. Guillermo, Padula, Ekpo, Iro, etc. almost act like Columbus is heaven. You never hear a Crew player bitching about living in Columbus. So, you have to figure that the Crew have been smart enough, as of late, to actually help a player relocate into an area, instead of just saying, "hey make it on your own," as in a Nicholas Anelka stituation with Real Madrid.

Also, it is almost like the Crew brought in Niko Hernandez, Gino Padula, and Ricardo Ibiraberren in an attempt to make just Guillermo happy and to feel more at home. For the Crew, they just lucked out that Padula ended up being a heck of a player as well.

I also wonder how much English Ekpo knew before coming to the Crew? Because in interviews this year he speaks the language pretty damn good. Further, I saw Renteria out once at the club with two Spanish speaking translators. I wonder if the Crew paid for them?

Anyways, throwing those three things together, if the Crew can continue to be the best at these three things in MLS, they will continue to be the most successful.

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