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 supporters section which is now 10 years old.

Monday, December 27, 2010

12/27/2010: Crew Sign Miranda, CONFIRMED By Crew and Chilean Press

We first reported here at Crewture that Chilean defender Sebastian Miranda was confirmed and signed by the Crew according to the Chilean press. Our source was, Toto Futbol Chile with the following story, Union ran out Captain:

The defender Sebastian Miranda, even though José Luis Sierra wanted at all costs by 2011, he received an offer from the Columbus Crew of the United States that he could not refuse.

SANTIAGO .- Although José Luis Sierra requested priority, Sebastian Miranda decided to set his bags and travel to the U.S. to sign with the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer (MLS).

The 30-year-old ended contract with Spanish Union and leave the club primarily for economic reasons, while not ruling out return to Hispanics.

Radio Speaking to DNA, Miranda said he was "very grateful to the Union, have made a great effort for me to stay. In that sense, I have only words of thanks to Mr. George (Segovia) and especially to the Coto (Sierra), he has been very supportive in this. It has therefore not been an easy decision. "

The defender, who also has steps on Catholic University and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, provides an important challenge in his new team, and will play Champions League CONCACAF 2010-2011.

This confirmation beat out the rumors by MLS-Rumors and
Crew Xtra
who wrote a blurb about the signing after Christmas, when the Crew finally confirmed the signing of Sebastian Miranda.

Friday, December 24, 2010

12/25/2010: Chile Press- Miranda Headed To Columbus, Despite Being Wanted By His Chilean Club. Columbus Offer Too Good To Pass Up

Interesting new article on Miranda from Toto Futbol Chile entitled Union ran out Captain:

The defender Sebastian Miranda, even though José Luis Sierra wanted at all costs by 2011, he received an offer from the Columbus Crew of the United States that he could not refuse.

SANTIAGO .- Although José Luis Sierra requested priority, Sebastian Miranda decided to set his bags and travel to the U.S. to sign with the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer (MLS).

The 30-year-old ended contract with Spanish Union and leave the club primarily for economic reasons, while not ruling out return to Hispanics.

Radio Speaking to DNA, Miranda said he was "very grateful to the Union, have made a great effort for me to stay. In that sense, I have only words of thanks to Mr. George (Segovia) and especially to the Coto (Sierra), he has been very supportive in this. It has therefore not been an easy decision. "

The defender, who also has steps on Catholic University and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, provides an important challenge in his new team, and will play Champions League CONCACAF 2010-2011.

It seems fairly certian that Chilean Sebastian Miranda will be the Columbus Crew's new starting right back. If he's as good as our last Chilean defender, Marcos Gonzalez, it will be a great deal.

12/23/2010: Rogers On Vacation With Guillermo In La Plata, Argentina

Robbie Rogers and Guillermo out on the town in Argentina.

Guillermo Barros Schelotto may have left the Crew, but he has made lifelong friendships with players such as Robbie Rogers and Steven Lenhart who have both made multiple trips to Argentina to visit Guillermo in the last two offseasons. Further, if Guillermo ever finds life too hectic back in football crazed Argentina, I'm sure he is always welcomed back in Columbus- well, by the fans and players at least. As "Mi casa, your casa," is surely what any Crew fan or player would say to the legend GBS.

Rogers, in fact, just wrapped up another trip to Argentina today where he visited Schelotto for a week in Argentina.

In this video, Rogers jokes around with Guillermo's brother, Gustavo Barros Schelotto, who also played for Gimnasia and Boca with Guillermo:

Also, there are plenty of talks of Guillermo possibly headed back (YES.. Back) to Gimnasia La Plata of the Primera Division in Argentina. His former teammate Robbie Rogers might of let it slip on his twitter by saying:
"I think Gimnasia have a pretty good chance. I'm predicting a championship."

You can check out more videos and commentary on Rogers trip with Guillermo on the well done RobbieRogers.com. Props there as not many players have such a good website/blog, video, and twitter setup. First time I actually ran across it, will have to check it out more.

And man check out some of the calente Argentinian girls in some of the other videos on Rogers videos from Argentina, I guess from Guillermo's posse? Woo, pays to be close to the legend.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

12/22/2010: Crew Interested In Chilean Right Back Miranda, Having Trouble Signing Cunningham

Apparently the South American defender that Bliss will be offering a contract to (as a pairing along with a South American midfielder) has been identified. According to a Chilean news report that player is 30-year-old, Union Espanola player Sebastian Miranda.

Miranda, who is captain of Union Espanola, stated the following about the Crew's proposal:
The proposal is attractive not only in the standard of living and economy, but also in the football, ” he said

The acquistion makes sense since Sebastian Miranda main position is right back. Miranda played 30 games for Union Espanola last season as Captain of the club.

Miranda could also be a body double for Guillermo with his 5'8 height and 154 pound frame.

Here's a feature on Miranda:

**Also, according to Crewxtra, the Crew are hitting a snag in negotiations with new possible acquistions Jeff Cunningham and Aaron Hohlbein.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

12/16/2010: Two South American Arrivals From Ecuador?

Yesterday, Bliss said he was in talks with two South American impact players and apparently a day later two Ecuadoran players have reached a loan deal with MLS. Seems like a fit right?

From the Blog, Futbol de MLS:
The President of Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito, Rodrigo Paz, confirmed that Marlon Ganchozo and Victor Estupiñán have reached a one-year loan deal with Major League Soccer. However, the MLS team that will be using the players is not known from the most important leader of the club.

No word on which team the players will arrive for, yet there is speculation that the Columbus Crew might be a feasible target. The club slipped in a recent article that the team is in talks with "two major South American players."

Both players are young and of high technical quality. Estupiñán is 22 and plays as a striker, while Ganchozo is only 19 years old and plays as a midfielder. The League intends to sell them on loan to show how important the players of LDU Quito are at the institution, and not simply trying to discard them. The reality is that the team has a staff of 40 professionals, and will surely be trying to lower that number.

However, not sure if I would consider Ganchozo and Estupinan high impact players. Estupinan is a 22 year old striker with only 18 appearances and 2 goals since 2006. While Marlon Ganchoso seems like a nicer prospect, as the 19 year old midfielder made 25 appearances for LDU Quito in 2010 with 1 goal. However, those appearances were in the fleeting minutes of games as Ganchoso only played 356 minutes.

If one turns out to be a Javier Morales though it will be well worth it.

Nevertheless, the positions of these two players "Forward and Midfield" does not match Brian Bliss's description of the two players he was after which is "Midfield and Defender." Would make sense though in the Crew's pursuit of younger, faster players.. Much more sense than the recent acquistion of Jeff Cunningham.

12/16/2010: Jeff Cunningham Back In Columbus

12/16/2010: Jeff Cunningham Back In Columbus

The Columbus Crew haven't wasted much time replacing Crew fan favorites- Schelotto and Hejduk- with another Crew fan favorite, the 34-year-old Jeff Cunningham. Cunningham is one of the Crew's highest scorers in their history, with 62 goals in 182 appearances from 1998-2004. And I'm betting that the Crew faithful won't mind if "Jeffro" came back and added to that goal tally in 2011.

Cunningham's return might be in another role nevetheless according to Crew technical director Brian Bliss; As Bliss said that the club sees "Jeffro" at his age as a "super sub" and/or "spot starter." Therefore, the Crew's offer to Cunningham will be less than what he has previously made.

This is despite the Jamaican having 28 goals in the past two MLS seasons with F.C. Dallas. A sort of striking production (28 goals in 55 games, only 36 of those games starts) that the Crew would have killed for these past two seasons. As in comparison, the best any other Crew striker could muster in the last two seasons was 9 goals total from Steven Lenhart.

Therefore, there really isn't any reason not to think that Cunningham wouldn't be in the mix to be a starting striker in 2011. Especially, if Lenhart, Renteria, and Mendoza cannot score on a regular clip per usual.

So I think Bliss's lingo is slightly posturing for a moderate contract for Cunningham; as the reason why F.C. Dallas parted ways with Cunningham was because his contract was way too high. However, Bliss and the Crew are well within their rights in terms of asking for a moderate contract; as every year Cunningham may lose a step and who knows if Cunningham will bring his Dallas form to Columbus or revert back to his Toronto F.C. form (6 goals in 32 games). There's always a risk that Cunningham won't fit into the new Crew as well as he fit into the old Crew.

However, I don't see that happening. Crew manager Robert Warzycha is making this his team, like it or not, and Cunningham can definitely work with Warzycha. Warzycha, a Crew midfielder from 1998-2002, feed Cunningham on a lot of his early career goals from 1998 to 2002. Therefore, Warzycha knows what type of players can help Cunningham produce and get back to his old Columbus days, and keep his recent F.C. Dallas form.

Overall, I like the move. I for one am looking forward to Cunningham running over to the Nordecke. Welcome back to Columbus, Jeffro!

Cunningham doing his thing-

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

12/14/2010: Say What? Brunner Compares Hometown Atmosphere To Portland's

Former Crew player Eric Brunner had this to say at his introduction in Portland:
"Columbus had a good atmosphere, but I think this is going to be even better," said Brunner, who played for the Columbus Crew last season.

The Timbers have a Columbus feel to them. They signed two Crew players, Adam Moffat and Eric Brunner, in the expansion draft. Additionally, the Timbers gave the Crew's first round pick, Bright Dike, a second chance after the Crew cut the player in preseason.

The Crew, who had scoring woes up top in 2010, might of done well to go with their first thoughts on Dike by keeping him on their roster. Dike scored 10 goals in 23 games for the Portland Timbers in 2010 (highlights below).

The best any Crew striker could muster in 2010 was six.

12/14/2010: Ghanaian Coach Leonard Moffatt Set As Crew Goalkeeper Coach?

Deciding to make the Ghanaian Moffatt or possibly even Brad Friedel player/goalkeeping coach, either rumor seems to mean that current Crew goalkeeping coach Vadim Kirillov (right) is on his way out.

12/14/2010: Ghanaian Coach Leonard Moffatt Set As Crew Goalkeeper Coach?

One Moffat Leaves, Another Moffatt Joins.

Ghanaian coach Leonard Moffatt will join the Columbus Crew coaching staff as a promotion from inside the organization according to GhanaWeb and many African sources. Here is the exact words from Ghana Web:

After spearheading Columbus Soccer Academy to place second in this season’s Youth Soccer League in Columbus, Ohio. Coach Moffatt, has earned himself a ticket to join the technical coaching staff of Columbus based MLS side, Columbus Crew after impressing the club officials. After consistent monitoring upon recommendation by a scout, the Ghanaian trainer has impressed officials and he will be joining the technical team as the club’s goalkeeper’s trainer, as officials seek to sharpen the goalkeeping department of the club. However, information gathered by this writer has it that Leonard Moffatt’s appointment has not yet been made permanent as officials require that he is put on probation for some weeks to be monitored.

Should his appointment be made permanent, then he will be the first Ghanaian trainer to work in the MLS.

If this is true it will likely put the Friedel rumor of signing as a goalkeeper and goalkeeper coach to bed. While either rumor seems to likely mean that current goalkeeping coach Vadim Kirillov is on his way out.

Dispatch article on the Russian Kirillov here. It seems that Hesmer and Kirillov had a good repetiore, Hesmer joked with Kirillov about Putin. Sadly, if true Hesmer couldn't rib Kirillov on Putin's singing debut.

Then again the article isn't clear possibly the Crew are adding Moffatt as an assistant to Kirillov.

Monday, December 13, 2010

12/13/2010: Gimnasia Wants Schelotto To Bolster Squad

A family affair, Guillermo (right) started his career with 181 appearances for Gimnasia, his brother Gustavo (left) had 144 caps at the same time. Guillermo is likely headed back to Argentina with Gimnasia unless another MLS team makes an eleventh hour bid. Most Crew fans would prefer Guillermo end up back in Argentina then having his Crew image tarnished in a Fire or T.F.C. jersey for example.

12/13/2010: Gimnasia Wants Schelotto To Bolster Squad

With relegation staring them in the face, Argentina's Premier Division side Gimnasia and their new president Horacio Delmar are intent on getting Schelotto in the January window.

In Del Mar's words:

"I have a friendship with Guillermo that goes back many years. He currently
is contracted to the United States league with Columbus Crew, and on December 16 they will tell him what his situation is. We want him back at the club as a player," Delmar told TyC Sports on Tuesday evening.

"If all goes well, we would like him here immediately. Gimnasia must improve their play."

Schelotto started his professional career with Gimnasia La Plata back in 1991, where he scored 45 goals in 181 appearances for the club until Guillermo moved onto Argentine power Boca Juniors in 1998. Guillermo's brother Gustavo also had 144 caps with the club during the same time and Guillermo's father still works with the Argentinian top flight club.

Will miss Guille here at Columbus. Thanks for all you have done and best of luck in Argentina or elsewhere!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

12/12/2010: Aston Villa Keeper Brad Friedel Considers Columbus Return

Brad Friedel- One of the best keepers in the English Premier League, could be heading back to Columbus where it all started for him.

12/12/2010: Aston Villa Keeper Brad Friedel Considers Columbus Return

If Robert Warzycha's demolition and rebuild of the 2008 MLS Cup Champion- Columbus Crew- needed an automatic feel good jolt Brad Friedel's John Hancock signature on a Crew contract would be a fantastic start. Such a high profile signing would get some fans back on Warzycha's side, making them think the coaching staff has a clue. And according to multiple reports Friedel is considering a player-coach contract offer from the Columbus Crew after new contract talks with Aston Villa have halted.

With fan-favorite Guillermo Barros Schelotto on his way out, the Crew could use a veteran leader in their team come Champions League time and there would be no better leader than talisman Friedel; as the Crew could have used a more vocal leader that spoke like this to the press in 2010:

Freidel on Aston Villa's recent form~

"You have to get up for these games, if you don't you really will get
found out," said Friedel.

"It's down to us as players to get our heads up to be confident and win football matches.

"It's not down to a lot of the talking off the pitch now especially when you're on a bad run of form. It's down to us as players to get our heads up to be confident and win football matches.

"You have to do it on the field, all the talking off the field is all well and good but you have to be able to go on there and put a performance in.

"We've been on a terrible run of results. Some of our form hasn't been as bad as the results suggest, but some games have.

"We've had a tremendous amount of injuries but, saying that, the young lads have performed very good at times. It's difficult when you're young, trying to get consistent runs against a lot of good players in the Premier League."

My one big criticism of Frankie Hejduk and Guillermo Barros Schelotto (and the other vets) in 2010 (and why they might be with us no longer) is where was this in the Columbus Dispatch, or other press? Where was the "what the f**k are we doing?" as the Crew continued to slide from their summit of a possible treble in the Summer to letting one possible accolade after another slip away as the season went on. Did they really care? It didn't seem like they cared as they did in 2008 (when they always found a way with their grit and determination), caring didn't show in their play as much in 2010.

Friedel would be a more vocal leader. He wouldn't of let that lackluster play slide for four or five months. Someone has to give a pep talk, instead of the feeling I got from the Crew in 2010, a lackadasical "we already won a cup, two supporters shields, this is MLS, we can get by with giving 75% percent and the fans won't hold our feet to the fire at the end of the season."

And even though Warzycha wants to be younger and quicker in 2011, the good thing about adding Friedel is that he can't slow down your attack in net. And in actuality Friedel's distribution will kick start many attacks. There is no doubt with Friedel that the Crew would upgrade from about the 5th-7th best keeper in MLS to having the best keeper in MLS.

Additionally, one of the foretold rules of football is to rebuild from the back, minus perhaps Dutch and Brazilian football. And one could say that the Crew defense in 2010 looked shaky. The Crew defense, which will be much younger including new signing Hohlbein, could use someone as vocal as Friedel to settle it down in 2011.

Let's just say the Crew need to infuse some veteran players into this club that care deeply about the Crew (Friedel, possibly Stern John). Not to say the previous veterans did not, they just lost something in 2010. Maybe some nonchalance kicks in after already winning and achieving it all.

But, Warzycha is going to need some knowledgeable, coolheaded veterans to lead this group of focus here, focus there players (such as Mendoza, Rogers, Ekpo, and nearly most of the Crew roster other than Marshall and O'Rourke). As a lot of these players have one game where they play out of their minds and they disappear for the next five to ten games.

Stern John always talks about coming back... And although a week ago Crew Techinical Director Brian Bliss said he hasn't talked to Friedel this offseason, he has said Friedel has asked multiple times if a return was possible the last few years:

"Usually in the transfer window periods he’s called asking, ‘Is there any chance I can get in?’ I think he wants to come home. I don’t know about now, but I can tell you Brad has called, to my knowledge, every July and January or every December the last two years."

If true what the heck are the Crew thinking? The goalkeeper of 6TH PLACE ASTON VILLA OF THE ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE wants to desperately come home and play for your MLS club. According to this quote, he wants to come back to Columbus over staying in England with Aston Villa. And you say no?

Hesmer is a decent keeper. But, were talking about Brad Friedel here. Who has saved Villa points on many days just from pure heroics. I'm sure if Friedel called Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, Toronto F.C., etc. they would have him on the first plane over.

The Crew have to spend some money to compete in this new MLS. They need a veteran leader, someone who can inspire from the back. If New York can have Henry, Marquez, and Angel. We can give Friedel 1/3rd of one of their salaries and another salary as a goalkeeping coach, and still afford to splash on some younger talents in the field.

Friday, November 26, 2010

11/26/2010: Crew Have Half A Roster To Fill After Losing Two More Players To Timbers

11/26/2010: Crew Have Half A Roster To Fill After Losing Two More Players To Timbers

What do you do when you trade your right back in waiting (Jed Zayner) in midseason, then decline to negotiate with your veteran right back (Frankie Hejduk), and then leave your only other player that has played right back in the last two years -other than those two aforementioned- unprotected in the expansion draft (Eric Brunner)?

Well, if your Brian Bliss, you don't panic without any right backs.

"We've got some work to do, but rebuilding is not the right word to use for what we're doing," Bliss said. "That would imply we're going to take our lumps in the next year or two. I don't think that is going to be the case."

Case or not, with the Timbers electing to go with the Crew's Eric Brunner and Adam Moffat in the expansion draft, Columbus now has half a roster to rebuild; As the Columbus Crew only have 15 players under contract. Therefore, they'll have to fill 50% percent of the locker room with completely new faces next year.

The news on Moffat and Brunner probably goes with a shrug for most Crew fans. Both Moffat and Brunner were helpful over the last few years; however, after the departure of Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Frankie Hejduk and etc. it's hard to meet any other sort of news (other than a DP signing) with any sort of heightened reaction.

Best of luck to both in Portland, not a bad gig as far as going to another club with great fan support and an excellent supporters section.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

11/24/2010: Kezman To Columbus?

Hey, he looks good in black and yellow right?

The former PSV Eindhoven, Chelsea, Athletico Madrid, and Fenerbache hitman Mateja Kezman is apparently considering coming to MLS according to this Serbian report. The 31 year old striker has hit a rut in recent years, only compiling 5 goals in 35 appearances for Paris St. Germain and not really showing up too well for Zenit St. Petersburg. So, Mateja must figure he can spark his career by going to MLS and facing off against the Tim Ream's of the world.

Kezman, a Yugoslav striker with 17 goals in 49 appearances for his National side and vast Champions League experience, could likely make some more noise than the current strikers at the Columbus Crew.

But, don't bet on the Crew opening up those kind of purse strings. If NYRB hires Thierry Henry, we might hire Donell Henry. So, I wouldn't bet on it, as knowing Hunt Sports Group and the Crew, if it involves a lot of money it ain't happening. Just look at them dumping Schelotto when they could of likely re-negotiated for around $300,000 a year with the great one.

But, hey still a nice thought. Would at least make it seem like Columbus has some sort of plan.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

11/23/2010: Crew Lose Out On Former Trialist Bas Ent, Ent Signs 3 Year Deal With Toronto F.C.

23 year old Bas Ent impressed MLS clubs Toronto F.C. and the Columbus Crew during his time in America with the Dayton Dutch Lions. Ent trialed for Toronto for a week and played 45 minutes for the Canadian club against EPL side Bolton Wanderers. Then Ent got a week trial with the Crew after impressing in a friendly matchup against the Crew (above). But, apparently Toronto will nab the young Dutch winger over Columbus.

11/23/2010: Crew Lose Out On Former Trialist Bas Ent, Ent Signs 3 Year Deal With Toronto F.C.

Dutch Topklasser League website, Topklasser.nl, which is the league website of Bas Ent's Dutch side, Katwijk, reported today that 23 year old Bas Ent has signed a three year deal with MLS side Toronto F.C.; A popular Dutch soccer website, VoetbalPrimeur.nl, has also picked up the story. Both of these stories confirm what I've personally heard (used to work at DDL F.C.) from a former Dayton Dutch Lions co-worker a week ago, who said that Ent has signed a three year deal with Toronto F.C.

The Columbus Crew battled Toronto F.C. this Summer a little over Bas Ent; as both TFC and Columbus invited Ent to week long trials. Ent had to say the following about his trial this Summer with the Columbus Crew, "I consider this trial as an appreciation for my performance this season. It gives me confidence. The Crew's level is very high, it's obvious that they are the front runners in the MLS by far. In terms of organization you can see this is a very big club. This trial is the icing on my cake."

Nevertheless, it looks as if TFC won the battle or that Warzycha and Bliss didn't rate the Dutch winger as highly as Toronto did. Therefore, Ent will not be a part of the Crew's youth plan, as the Crew have decided to go younger and faster after parting ways with veterans Schelotto, Hejduk, Padula, Oughton, and Carroll. However, Ent shouldn't take it too personal as it's fair to say that the only overwhelmingly positive signing in the last two years for Columbus has been Renteria.

Last month, some Crew fans wondered why the Crew signed Cleveland International player Josh Williams (who rarely played for PDL side Cleveland and had less than spectacular stats in the PDL) over a better known PDL commodity in former Dayton Dutch Lions player Bas Ent. Hopefully that decision, along with many others of the Crew in this last week, doesn't come back to bite them.

Will see in our first game against Toronto in 2011. If Ent torches the inconsistent Shaun Francis and Eric Brunner, there's your answer.

Monday, November 22, 2010

11/23/2010: Columbus Crew Hit The Self-Destruct Button

11/23/2010: Columbus Crew Hit The Self-Destruct Button

The Crew have had by far one of the most stable lineups in MLS over the last three to four years. That stability of strong players and strong personalities has culminated in two Supporters Shields, two CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals appearances, and one MLS Cup. The stability and success that goes with it may not be anymore however. As this past week the Crew coaching staff and front office have decided to hit the red self-destruct button and blow up their group of leaders and larger-than-life players because of recent disappointments that were not completely the starting eleven's fault.

Crew General Manager Mark McCullers told the Dispatch last week that the current group isn't physical enough and cannot score enough goals. McCullers said, "I think we should have scored at least 10 more goals (in 2010)." But, whose fault is that? If the Crew coaching staff and front office wants more goals then maybe they should get around to actually signing a bonified goalscorer (no Herrera and Mendoza do not count) that Schelotto can actualy feed! Instead of umm, parting ways with a player that played a part in 17 of your goals in 2010. Further, going into 2010 the front office and coaching staff said that a 20 goals a year striker was the missing piece in the Crew's formula, and yet they never solved that problem. In fact, they failed miserably.

Just look at their solutions, Herrera, once described as gelling magically with Schelotto from the start and also described as the guy who will score goals by the boatload in 2010, played a minute in MLS for the Crew before being let go in July. And Mendoza may have scored a few goals for the Crew in 2010, but seems lazy as hell and won't chase after a ball that is more than two feet away from him. Also Mendoza misses quite a few sitters that, for example, could of put the Rapids (the eventual 2010 MLS Champions) away early in these 2010 playoffs.

Further, maybe the actual problem in 2010 was preferring players like Jason Garey and Steven Lenhart for too long up top, when both seem to stumble their way to 5 goals a year; while game changers like Renteria seem to languish on the bench, despite playing well and scoring goals at a clip. As I personally think that if Renteria started all 30 games, he would of scored 10-15 goals in 2010.

Further the disappointments don't just lay with the players, as the decisions of Robert Warzycha have been suspect for most of 2010. For example, in the home playoff game against the Rapids, the Rapids looked done and dusted; but Warzycha took out Ekpo (probably because of yellow, but still should of had some faith) who was playing fantastic and who is surprisingly a pretty good defensive midfielder. As soon as that change was made for Burns and company, the play started to turn in the Rapids favor and they were allowed to find a way back. That was just one of many dubious calls on the year from the bullpen, as the disappointments this year are half (if not more) the coaching staff's fault on this season. Nevertheless, the coaches get off scott free while players who have given a hell of a lot more over the last three years get placed on the chopping block.

Because of the recent cuts, this offseason the Crew will be scrambling to find a new attacking midfielder, a new defensive midfielder, a new right back, possibly a new left back, and of course a striker still that is worth something. Blowing up a stable squad, after a few disappointments, has worked so well in turning around clubs such as the Houston Dynamo and New England Revolution (that strong odor your smelling is sarcasm), so I guess the Crew have decided to go that route as well. Here is what will be gone next year and the upside and downside to these moves.

Guillermo Barros Schelotto- 102 games, 35 goals, 47 assists are gone. The best attacking midfielder in MLS by far over the last three years. Need a painful reminder, here you go:

Upside: None, some cap space to spend on some P.O.S. South American striker.
Downside: Legend is gone, only guy that consistently gets goals and assists yearly; Crew Stadium won't be the same without a Guillermo chant. And really should of let us know it was Guillermo's last game so the fans could at least say goodbye in a special way. Heartbreaking way to cut ties with a guy that has given us soo much.

Brian Carroll- Played 83 out of 90 games in the last three years, was a rock in defensive midfield.
Upside: Wasn't as consistent in 2010, but still one of the best defensive midfielder's in MLS.
Downside: Danny O'Rourke is are only worthwhile DM now. I'm okay with it if it means were going to only play with one DM, but have a feeling this means more playing time for questionably talented players such as Adam Moffat and Kevin Burns. I love the irony of how players like Guillermo and Carroll are being dropped, but players that haven't done crap (like Moffat) since the beginning of 2008 and players that are vastly overrated by Warzycha (Burns) somehow find themselves still on the roster.

One more thing, a second round pick for Brian Carroll! Jesus, at least get a first round pick, Carroll is worth that much as he would start defensive midfield on almost any team.

Frankie Hejduk-
Upside: Some questionable play at times in the past season; but still has a motor and gets down the wing well still.
Downside: His heart is with the Crew, as no one would be surprised if Frankie had Crew tattoo's all over his body. Lots of pride. Hejduk is a fan favorite and has put a lot of sweat in for this team. Also, despite Hejduk's small dip in form, I think the Crew are still going to have a tough time finding someone better at right back next season. Same for Schelotto's and Carroll's positions. As I doubt anyone is really going to just come in and make that position theirs next year?

Gino Padula-
Upside: Getting older, Crew will eventually need an upgrade at left back.
Downside: I still think Padula is better than the jittery Shaun Francis at left back and I'm not convinced Francis is a legitimate starter and replacement yet. I feel like Padula got injured and never got a chance to win back his position in 2010; although Padula looked good this year when he found the field.

Jason Garey-
Upside: Only move I'm totally okay with; as Garey got a free pass with the Crew for far too long, 15 goals in 83 games just isn't really good as a striker. Sure Garey showed flashes, but he was just a decent striker. Time for Garey to sell bonds or become an assistant manager or whatever half decent MLS players do after a short MLS career.
Downside: Bash Brothers two stick will now be irrevelant or worth more on ebay.

Leandre Griffit-
Not really seeing one, I thought Griffit looked lively when he was on the field in 2010. Crew went through quite a bit to bring him in the squad for nothing.
Downside: Crew are saying they want to go younger, but can't they see a young talent worth some time in the squad in their own roster? Griffit scored in his first four minutes on a MLS field and looked very talented and composed every time he stepped on the field for the Crew in 2010. Also, the only problem with Griffit was that he didn't get many chances to step on the field; while guys like Francis and Burns saw four times the minutes in 2010.

Because of that I'm scared of the coaching staff's thoughts on talent.

Nevertheless, the Crew have said they may restructure with Griffit, and should consider doing so because Griffit will be worth the cheap salary. If not, I'm sure someone in MLS will see Griffit's worth if the Crew don't... And the Crew will pay for it in the end.

Duncan Oughton- With the Crew for 9 years, good locker room guy and has done well off the bench for the Crew in recent years.
Upside: Probably hasn't been worth the salary space at times in the last few years but has done well when he has found the field in recent years.
Downside: Duncan is another heart and soul guy for the Crew. The Crew is losing a lot of heart and pride in their locker room with both Oughton and Frankie Hejduk now gone.

Overall, all I know is that this tranformation better lead to some damn results quick (and by that I mean trophies) or come 2011 some other heads will be on the chopping block and it won't be the players. Clark Hunt will be the one pushing some red buttons.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

11/3/2010: Crew Have Easiest Road They'll Likely Ever Have To Club World Cup

Emilio Renteria and the Crew has had some of their best success recently in the Champions League, and the Crew have played well against Mexican side Santos Laguna this season with one win and a tie that wasn't in Mexico due to a Renteria disallowed goal. However, the Crew will be happy to not have to face a Mexican side until the final in the knockout stages.

The Columbus Crew have the easiest route they'll likely ever have to a Concacaf Champions League final and a club goal of playing the likes of Manchester United and Inter Milan in a non-friendly competition in the Club World Cup.

The Crew will start off the knockout rounds of the Concacaf Champions League at home between Feb. 22-24 against MLS opponent Real Salt Lake; then face off the following week against RSL in the two game second round series. If the Crew have a better offseason with transactions and training than RSL the Crew will likely get to their first Concacaf Champions League semifinal.

At the Semifinal they'll meet the winner of Olimpia-Saprissa in a two game series in March and April. The Crew got the better of Saprissa in their two games against the Costa Rican club in the 2009 version of the Champions League, beating Saprissa twice. Further, Saprissa is likely to be the favorite in that series against Olimpia. The Crew will feel very confident going up against Saprissa again.

A win against Saprissa and they'll face off against a Mexican team in a two game final where Columbus will have to play the series of their lives to book the first Club World Cup appearance for a MLS team.

First Leg
February 22-24
Toluca (MEX) vs. Monterrey (MEX)
Cruz Azul (MEX) vs. Santos Laguna (MEX)
Columbus Crew (USA) vs. Real Salt Lake (USA)
Saprissa (CRC) vs. Olimpia (HON)
Second Leg
March 1-3
Monterrey (MEX) vs. Toluca (MEX)
Santos Laguna (MEX) vs. Cruz Azul (MEX)
Real Salt Lake (USA) vs. Columbus Crew (USA)
Olimpia (HON) vs. Saprissa (CRC)

First Leg
March 15-17
Salt Lake-Columbus winner vs. Olimpia-Saprissa winner
Monterrey-Toluca winner vs. Santos-Cruz Azul winner
Second Leg
April 5-7
Olimpia-Saprissa winner vs. Salt Lake-Columbus winner
Santos-Cruz Azul winner vs. Monterrey-Toluca winner

First Leg
April 19-21
Santos-Cruz Azul/Monterrey-Toluca winner vs. Olimpia-Saprissa/Salt Lake-Columbus winner
Second Leg
April 26-28
Olimpia-Saprissa/Salt Lake-Columbus winner vs. Santos-Cruz Azul/Monterrey-Toluca winner

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

11/3/2010: Crew Appear To Be Doing A Much Better Job At Promoting.. Will It Lead To Results?

The Columbus Crew have seemed to improve their marketing and promoting of games over the second half of 2010. I haven't seen many games with poor crowds over the second half of the season, except for the Concacaf Champions League games; And it appears that the Crew have stepped it up a notch for the first playoff game this season.

The Crew have done quite a bit of social media marketing for Saturday, they have a Scarf Ohio campaign for the playoffs, a nice video of Cavs players and Jim Tressel repping the black and gold, and they conveniently have no sports competition this weekend with Ohio State on a bye.

Further, the Crew have made some smart cross promotion deals; As the Blue Jackets also have a home game later in the night and the Crew have paired up their playoff game at 4 p.m. with the Blue Jackets game later that night for $50 bucks.

Hopefully, this leads to a nearly full house and an atmosphere much more like Seattle's on Sunday; And less like the Rapids awful atmosphere in the first game of this series where the fans were outnumbered by seats 3 to 1. If it's more like Seattle's atmosphere (hard to be as good without 36,000 seats), but still it will definitely be a lift for a Crew team that didn't look so hot in the first game in the series.

Overall, I'm just glad that the Crew front office is starting to market the team more like a professional club instead of a minor event. No one is going to come to a game if you never market a Crew game like it's something of importance. So kudos there.

11/3/2010: Play Like Gareth Bale Today! Should Be The Crew Midfield's Motto On Saturday

Gareth Bale is the most magnificient player I have ever seen after watching his performance against Inter Milan yesterday. A player that Robbie Rogers, Eddie Gaven, and Emmanuel Ekpo should attempt to emmulate in the midfield; As Bale always makes the right decision (the most important thing in football). Further, Bale made world class Inter defenders look like orange cones yesterday. Bale had 3 goals and 2 assists in 2 games against Inter Milan (quite possibly the best defense in club football). Quite simply Bale is a special, special player who doesn't take any play, any run down the line off. I would take Bale anyday over a Lampard or Gerrard.

What winger is going to step up for the Columbus Crew on Saturday and put in a faultless performance like Bale? I'm going to call all three out and say they have been lazy at times and always haven't given their 110% percent, with Gaven being the least offending. It's time for them to step up and play like they can, because the defense nor our strikers have the ability to save our season and give us some hope of a cup this year. That prospect lies solely on our midfield.

And credit to Warzycha, who has finally got it right in the midfield and has his best three midfield talents on the field at once with Ekpo and Rogers on the wings, and Gaven commanding the middle. But, each have taken a game (Gaven), or games (Ekpo), or half a season off (Rogers). Let's go through each:

**Gaven is the smartest player out of the bunch when it comes to decisions. But, Gaven could be more decisive and commanding. Gaven doesn't always need to pass the ball off. More runs like the one he had at the end of the 2009 season against F.C. Dallas would lead to higher stats for the Crew's most composed midfielder.

Gaven needs to take more of a leadership role in the middle and hold others accountable. I just don't think that's in his personality yet. He could also use a little more work on his fitness because once in a while he has a bad game due to being worn out.

Gaven started playing in this league at 16, he has the ability to be a phenom and a U.S. National team star if he just puts in that extra little work. I believe with a little more confidence Gaven will be a winger at a World Cup for the U.S. someday.

**Ekpo was recommended by Nigerian and African champs Enyimba to start for the Nigerian National team before Ekpo came to the Crew. Ekpo has flashes of pure brillance for the Crew, the only problem is those flashes have been few and far between. He hasn't played bad this second half, much better than his first. But, if he were to play more like he did against Colorado in 2008, Kansas City in early 2009, Municipal in Champions League in 2010 then he would be incredible. Problem is it seems like Ekpo just has one or two games a year where he takes over and balls out.

The rest of the time he makes bad decisions 50% percent of the time. If he would put in more performances like he is capable of, maybe Ekpo wouldn't wonder why he isn't in the Nigerian picture like he was when he was eligible for the U-21 team.

**Rogers has dropped off the face of the Earth since being a solid player for the Crew in 2008. Rogers was a U.S. National team phenom with moves and ability that a lot of people haven't seen before at the Crew, he has seemed disinterested since the start of the 2009 season. Further, he told Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Pickens last week that he shouldn't bad mouth the Crew. But, then Rogers went out and played a subpar, stinker of a game.. Rogers could of caught up to a couple balls last week that he let go past him. Also, Rogers just nonchalantly plays with the ball when he could finish it.

What all three need to do is get a game tape of Gareth Bale's performance in Tottenham's 3-1 win over Inter Milan.. And get inspired. Otherwise, the Crew's season ends Saturday. Period.

Bale's performances against Inter:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

10/28/2010: Jim Tressel, Cavs Wish Crew Best Of Luck In Playoffs

Pretty awesome video here with OSU Head Football Coach Jim Tressel, the Cavs, the Blue Jackets, and some local celebrities wishing the Crew the best of luck in their 2010 playoffs:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

10/26/2010: Have Hesmer, Gaven's Unique Goalkeeping Heroics Brought Renewed Life, Joy, & Vigor To Dead Crew Team?

Goalkeeping: Sometimes the most unheralded position may have reinvigorated a dead and tired Columbus Crew team. First on October 15th, goalkeeper William Hesmer (left) ran 90 yards to score in the 92nd minute to give the Crew a 2-2 tie away against TFC. Then the next week midfielder Eddie Gaven made two diving saves, after Hesmer was injured, to preserve a 3-1 victory at home against Philadelphia in front of over 19,000 fans.

The Crew looked like a sad version of their former, champion-caliber selves a few weeks ago. As the team struggled to even tie a game, they bombed out of the Supporters Shield race, and they lost the U.S. Open Cup final (there best chance to win an important trophy in 2010). It was obvious to all that the Columbus Crew locker room was not enjoying their soccer and seemed to be dwelling on the missed opportunities that have occurred this season. Then on October 15th, Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer scored a surprising goal in the 92nd minute to give the Crew a 2-2 tie away against "rivals" Toronto F.C.; the draw gave the Crew their first trophy of 2010, the debatedly meaningful Trillum Cup (awarded to the series winner of Crew vs. TFC). But, after bombing out of the Supporters Shield and Open Cup trophy races, the Crew were keen to get their hands on any hardware.

And the Crew seemed to find some joy for once, as they danced and chased Hesmer around Toronto's BMO Field (video below); Silencing and mocking a quiet TFC crowd who finally thought they would be celebrating their first win over a Crew side that hasn't been too massive as of late. Not to be, as the Crew enjoyed a once in a lifetime goal by William Hesmer and enjoyed the continued misery of TFC at their hands. They finally had a reason to smile for months.

Hesmer's famous antics brought Massive across the world once again: A video that has gotten over 760,000 hits in a week across the world on youtube from two uploads.

The Crew were enjoying their soccer again.. And a reinvigorated Crew then traveled to Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday and punched their ticket to the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals by destroying Joe Public 4-1 (video below). Renteria, a player that I believe is our best striker in years and should of gotten minutes in 2010 like the less effective Alejandro Moreno did in 2009, showed himself again slotting two past a meager Joe Public. The Crew had their first victory in the bag in weeks and guarenteed themselves another shot at the knockout rounds of the Champions League, where they battled Toluca to a 5-4 defeat over two legs last season.

And on top of the 4-1 Joe Public win. Crew journeyman and fan favorite Duncan Oughton (who does not get the most minutes these days) scored the fourth goal, which also lifted the team because everyone in the Crew locker room loves Dunc. So do the fans.. The Nordecke made him a motif for Sunday's game as well:

Speaking of Sunday's game. The Crew, in front of over 19,000 at home, dismantled the Philadelphia Union 3-1. A very important win for the Crew as it gives them some renewed belief over MLS opponents, even if the win was against lowly expansion side Philadelphia. Further, the Union's only goal came when Crew midfielder Eddie Gaven was forced into the goalkeeper position after Hesmer was injured (video below); as the Crew already used three substitions. Eddie Gaven let a LeToux saveable bullet go past him but then came up big saving two Union shots over his 15 minutes in net, icing the 3-1 victory. The second week of unusual Crew goalkeeper-related antics put a smile on a lot of Crew faces to end the season.. Further, Renteria and Mendoza both tallied for the second straight game putting together a couple of goalscoring streaks, at a striker position that has been an inconsistent carosel all season. Another reason to smile (along with Renteria's goal celebration below) and be a little more confident as a Crew fan.

Overall, I have never seen a more impressive attitude adjustment by a team over an eight day period. It may not save the Crew's season by leading to a MLS Cup; but, it has led from overwhelming pessismism to at least some renewed optimism in Columbus... And it all started with Hesmer's 92nd minute goal. Hesmer will miss the whole playoffs due to an injury from Sunday's season finale against Philadelphia; But, his 92nd minute heroics might lead to a MLS Cup run all the way back to BMO Field on November 21st.

Soccer god willing.

10/26/2010: Say What McCullers? At The Crew Awards

Columbus Crew GM Mark McCullers sure knows how to pull the silver lining out of a crappy few months. From the Crew's Twitter, this is how the Crew GM described the umm, "successful" Crew 2010 season:

"Were the only team in MLS history to reach the MLS Playoffs, Open Cup Final and Quarterfinal stage of CONCACAF in one season."

That may be true, but McCullers could have also said:

"Were the only team in MLS history to have a real good chance at the treble a few months ago: Supporters Shield, U.S. Open Cup, and MLS Cup. To go from that, to blowing two of those three opportunities and only being picked by the most optimistic of Crew fans for the third."

That more realistic statement probably would have drawn more applause; I'm sure everyone at the awards ceremony had the same thought when McCullers made that statement and if you didn't you're lying... And I get that awards ceremonies are a wank-fest so I'm being particular.

Some other thoughts on the awards ceremony:

**Fan of the year went to Herbert Bressler. Could someone scoop me in on who Herbert Bressler is?

I'm not being rude, just curious.

I'm sure Herbert(based on the name Herbert) is and hope he is some 72 year old guy who has been to every Crew home game since 96'. But, I thought it would of been someone like Sameh Fahmi, Blake Compton, or Kevin McCullough. Someone who spends money and a great ammount of time outside of the game to bring more fans to Crew games; Or someone like Fahmi who takes 80 brillant pictures a game as the National Geographic photographer of the Nordecke; who I'm sure would like to just stand, drink a beer, and chant for a game from the Nordecke. Or someone like McCullough and Compton who have made sure that around 100 Crew fans have made the trek to New York, Philly, D.C., Chicago, Toronto, and etc. this year. Trips that take lots of time to coordinate and end up costing someone 200 bucks a trip usually.

Oh well, I'm sure Bressler is deserving for one reason or another. I hope this is Bressler, as showing up to a game as JC is reason enough:

Anyways, I just hope he isn't some investor guy who bought the trophy by giving the Crew a little cash. To me at least, fan of the year isn't just showing up, it's sacrificing a lot to promote your club. I hope Bressler has done this in one way or another.

**One thumbs up about this year's ceremony, I'm glad the Crew are recognizing their youth players at multiple levels; Congrats to Will Trapp, Aaron Horton, and Brandon Silva for winning academy player of the year at U-16, U-18, and U-20. Hopefully we will see one of these guys in the senior team someday.

Crew Soccer Academy U15/16 Player of the Year
2010 Winner- Wil Trapp

Crew Soccer Academy U17/18 Player of the Year
2010 Winner- Aaron Horton

Crew Soccer Academy U19/20 Player of the Year
2010 Winner- Brandon Silva

**A thumbs down for me is missing a Casino Night, just about the best part of the Crew season. However, I'm saving up my money and requesting November 6th off since I have been putting work before being a Crew diehard this season. Obviously my priorities are screwed up and it's time to switch those around again. I blow all my work money on booze anyways :-). Kidding.

10/26/2010: Renteria & Mendoza On Goal Scoring Form For Playoffs; Will That Continue Against Colorado?

Putting the call out for starting time in the playoffs: Renteria and Mendoza are on nice form heading into the playoffs. Renteria has 3 goals in his last 2 games, Mendoza has 2 goals in his last 2 games (Pictures by Sam Fahmi/Massive Report).

Consistent scoring is an area that the Crew haven't been able to rely on from any of their strikers for a few years now, well since Brian McBride and Stern John. Nevertheless, it appears that two Crew strikers are getting in form at the right time with the playoffs right around the corner; As Emilio Renteria has tallied three goals in his last two games and Andres Mendoza has found the net twice in his last two games.

Even though these goals were against Joe Public on Tuesday and the Philadelphia Union on Sunday (quite possibly the worst teams respectively in the Champions League and MLS) it is still nice to be scoring consistently; as a goal scoring streak leads to confidence for both players no matter the opponent. Further, it gives confidence in the midfield that if the Crew midfield feeds Renteria and Mendoza, there is a good chance that either will finish the opportunity currently.

Therefore, I hope Warzycha sticks with the sort of lineup he trotted out against the Philadelphia Union (minus Hesmer because of his injury):

I also hope to see Mendoza coming off the bench for Renteria around the 70th minute; As Warzycha has to gift those who are scoring with starting time. I will be immensely frustrated if (despite Renteria and Mendoza scoring in the last two consecutive games) Waryzcha for reasons unknown decides to start either Lenhart or Garey.

Renteria and Mendoza are in goal scoring form, they are the higher quality strikers on our team and their showing it at the moment, further they have some confidence in themselves at the moment. I went from highly pessimistic about the playoffs to slightly confident about the first round as long as both of them are seeing minutes up top. I believe we can take Colorado with both seeing minutes at that striker position.

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

10/13/2010: Crew Not Leaving Much Fans Hopeful For Playoffs

Loyal but not cheerful: Crew fall to listless Chicago 2-nil this past Friday in Chicago as Crew fans that made the long trip watch at Toyota Park. Despite recent form, a lot of Crew fans showed up to cheer on their club.

After another ridicously bad performance against Chicago. I can't agree more with this estimation of the Crew's chances in the playoffs, as sbnation ranked the Crew seventh out of the eight playoff teams despite being the second seed in the East:

7. Columbus Crew (46 points): Harsh? Maybe. Whether it's the schedule, the lack of depth on the roster or some other reason, the fact remains that no team has played worse over their past five games than Columbus -- and yes that includes DC United, Houston, Chivas USA and every other bottom-feeding team. Of course they have a chance to turn it around and maybe some rest will allow them to do that, but right now the Crew look like a wounded animal. The only question is whether they are looking for someplace to lie down or for something to attack.

The overall fact is that this team has completely lost their identity, spirit, and unity. I would be shocked and pleasantly surprised if we go farther then the second round.

10/13/2010: Francis In First Cap Plays Part In Jamaica Goal, Win Over Trinidad

Wearing yellow for club and now country: Crew youngster Francis gets First Jamaican cap.

According to the Jamaica Gleaner, Francis had a pretty good game in his debut for Jamaica:
One of two newcomers to the team, 24-year-old Columbus Crew midfielder, Shaun Francis, was involved in the lead-up play to the penalty, when he supplied the ball inside, from which Eric Vernan was eventually toppled to earn the goal-making opportunity.

A largely- left-sided player, Francis was more impressive than the other starting debutant, the much-talked-about teen, Marvin Morgan Jr. Both showed a lot of confidence, but their production, especially that of Morgan, never quite matched their self-belief, on the night.

The 1970's quality video of the penalty that was helped by Francis, and scored by New York Red Bull winger Dane Richards for a 1-nil Jamaica win over T&T:

10/13/2010: Peruvian Piero Alva Wants To Join Mendoza At Crew?

According to a few reports out of Peru, 31 year old Peruvian striker Piero Alva wants to partner fellow Peruvian Andres Mendoza at the Columbus Crew. Apparently Alva's agent, Ricky Schanks (also Mendoza's agent- surprise there) forgot to tell Alva that the American transfer deadline was nearly two months ago and that the only partnering he will likely be doing with Mendoza is catching splinters on the bench. You know, since Mendoza hasn't been seeing much time as a starter since he joined the Crew.

Schanks has stated that Alva would be emigrating to American soil ASAP and Alva's current Peruvian team Universitio de Deportes can do nothing to keep him. Well, other than of course offering him a lucrative salary so that Alva won't be tempted to sit in Ohio for the next four winter months waiting to join the Crew in February to see if he can be the latest South American forward disappointment along with Herrera and Mendoza.

Mendoza and even Herrera have better resumes, Alva is a 1 goal every 5 games striker mainly in Peru. Further, Alva has 16 caps and only 3 goals with the national team. That's just scintilating.

Sadly, the only time I would probably be interested in a guy like this is right now. As I would throw anyone in there hoping they could score a goal. In contrast, the Crew need to look for a real 20 goals a game, DP striker next year. Not previously good South Americans looking for an American vacation.

Here's another story on Alva to Crew eventually.

Anyways here's Piero Alva doing his thing if there is any interest in 2011 and if Mendoza is still here to partner with:

An awful penalty kick from Alva two weeks ago:

10/13/2010: Warzycha Interviewed On Polish Tv In Chicago

Mainly discussing how Poland looked in the friendly and what Warzycha thinks about the new Polish NT coach, also discusses a little about MLS and the Crew, click here if you want to check Warzycha out in his native tongue.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

10/5/2010: Punchless Crew Look To Regain Form/Season In Open Cup Finale vs. Seattle

Can the Crew salvage their season? A lot relies on tonight.

In recent weeks the Columbus Crew have lacked that knockout punch, never say die attitude that the club is usually known for by the fans. Many missed opportunities have led to what could've been a brillant season turning into what can be, at best, a decently good season. And, tonight's U.S. Open Cup Final against Seattle at 10 P.M. will either be the catalyst for a season to remember, or the disaster that led to a season to forget; As tonight's Open Cup Final is the one possible saving grace for a promising season, that has whiddled down to an okay season because of a number of missed opportunities by the Crew in recent weeks.

Missed opportunity number 1: The Crew let the Los Angeles Galaxy and Real Salt Lake run away in the Supporters Shield race that the Crew once led a little over a month ago. Columbus is currently a good seven points back of Los Angeles and five points back of RSL. In comparison, a couple of weeks ago the Crew were tied with the Los Angeles Galaxy with a chance to take the outright lead in a game at LA. What did the Crew do? They lost 3-1 and LA has never looked back since.

The Crew will not be Supporter Shield winners for the third consecutive season in a row, despite having it for the taking.

Missed opportunity number 2: At one point the Crew were 10 to 12 points ahead of Red Bull New York in the Eastern Conference.. This Saturday, the Red Bulls defeated Kansas City 1-nil to overtake the Crew in the East by a margin of 47 points to the Crew's 46. The Crew may still take the Eastern Conference top spot but I wouldn't expect the Crew to win back that top spot either at this point; as it's pretty apparent which team is better and surging right now in the East and that is New York.

Missed opportunity number 3: I'm not sure if it was a better idea for the Crew to play their backups against Municipal this past week instead of against Joe Public in their final CONCACAF Champions League game later this month. Last week, the Crew took 15 players to Guatemala and left 9 starters at home and lost in horrible conditions 2-1 to Municipal. The victory for Municipal gave them 8 points, while the Crew has 9 points and Santos Laguna has 10 points.

One would have to figure that even Santos Laguna is going to be forced to play mostly starters in their final Champions League game because a loss to Municipal in that game and a Crew win would eliminate Santos Laguna. So, therefore, the Crew should be able to qualify; especially if they play a competitive lineup against a Joe Public team that can't seem to beat anyone in the group.

But, why not go for the juggular and play mostly starters in Guatemala and end the thing? That way you can play all backups later in the month. Also, a win in Guatemala would have allowed us to win the group over a Mexican team. A win in Guatemala would also have gave us a #1 seed which would make us more likely to play a weaker #2 team in the quarterfinals.

Should have saved the reserves for Joe Public; As I think the reserves could still get a win down there. That would have gave us 15 points in the group and would have meant that we won the group, which I think is a great achievement.

So, I'm not really a fan of the lassez-faire attitude of the Columbus Crew coaches this year and the entire team's attitude so far in 2010. Because when you have a legitimate chance to win your group in Champions League you should go for it. When you have a showdown to take sole possession of the Supporters Shield, you should be more prepared for it... And when you lose 4-nil at Columbus Crew Stadium in front of 18,000 fans and the Nordecke, you shouldn't make an excuse that it was a much closer game; As that sort of loss would have been unimaginable in 2008 and early 2009 when we couldn't even lose 1-nil at Columbus Crew Stadium.

But then again I think the atmosphere was much better in 2008 and early 2009 since the Nordecke was general admission and much more packed. But, what do I know.

That brings us to tonight. The team that hammered the Crew 4-nil in Columbus a few weeks back just happens to be their U.S. Open Cup opponent, the Seattle Sounders. Both sides believe that the 4-nil pounding in Columbus will play a factor in this rematch for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup trophy.

Sigi Schmid in interview with The News Tribune:
“I think it does register. It certainly gives us some confidence but, like I said before, they are a good team. They are a proud team [. . .] They are a team that’s going to want to come and say, ‘Hey, look, that’s not a reflection of our abilities.’ And it isn’t because they are too good of a team.”

Brian Carroll on the game in interview with Crew intern Steve Sirk:

“We’re excited to come out here as an entire group and be a part of this Open Cup final. We want to put on a good performance and come out of here with a trophy. We know it’s going to be a great atmosphere and a tough test. Seattle is a great team and this is a tough environment to play in, but we are going to put our heart and soul into the game. We’re certainly capable if we put on a good performance and play like we are able to. They were sharp when we played them at our place, and now we need to be sharp at their place.”

I highlighted heart and soul for a reason. Carroll says the Crew will put there heart and soul into the game tonight. I sure hope that Brian Carroll is right because I haven't seen much heart and soul going on in the last month and a half. More like the wheels falling off the track, missed opportunities going past the Crew, and everyone staying upbeat and saying "well we lost that opportunity but we still have the U.S. Open Cup and the playoffs."

Well, let me tell you, this game tonight is a must win for Robert Warzycha and the Crew tonight. 1.) If you cannot get up for a trophy, especially one that reads Lamar Hunt (your previous owner who left this earth and loved this club) then you shouldn't be on the Crew. 2.) This could be an extreme boost of confidence and make the Crew hungry for more honors on the road to MLS Cup. 3.) If the Crew doesn't play well tonight, I feel like the Crew will fall apart the rest of the season and have a bland performance in the playoffs. 4.) A season without any trophies this year for this team is a failing season for Warzycha and this is his best opportunity.

So, I hope the Crew have their heart and souls in it tonight.. And they go for the juggular this time, finish their chances, and put a solid 90 minutes in for the first time in a while here. A win and a trophy would go a long way towards restoring some faith into this 2010 season.

**Keys to Winning Tonight: I would go for an attacking lineup with Renteria, Mendoza, Griffit, Schelotto all involved at some point. I would play a similiar defensive line as we did against San Jose on Saturday.. And I would have the Crew man mark Blaise Nfuko, have Chad Marshall following the big striker everywhere. As Nfuko, the former FC Twente Swiss striker, put 3 goals past the Crew in that 4-nil Crew loss to Seattle at Crew stadium.

** A very interesting, historic look at the U.S. Open Cup from The Seattle Times.

Quoteable from U.S. Soccer historian Roger Allaway:
"The Sounders making a big deal of it certainly helps," Allaway said, "because, to me, the Open Cup is the main remaining link to the earlier decades of soccer history."

The over 30,000 crowd expected Tuesday night will smash the previous U.S. Open Cup Final record of 21,583 from the 1929 final between New York Jewish club Hakoah and Maddison Club of St. Louis.

** Cool stuff over here at Sirkness from Seattle.

** Quotes from the Seattle Sounders at the Seattle News Tribune.

** Snubbed Crew seeks last laugh from Shawn Mitchell at The Columbus Dispatch. Talks about how the Crew sees themselves as the Millwall of the U.S., a smaller market club that "no one likes, but we don't care."

** A new video mashup I made with pictures of the Nordecke Ultras from the past three years:

10/5/2010: Crewture Mixtape- Nordecke Ultras Mashup

Crewture Mixtape Mashup with some pictures from the Nordecke Ultras section from away and home over the last few years.

Carlo Carlone- Nein Mann (Crazy Electro Mix)


Monday, September 20, 2010

9/20/2010: Something's Gone Very Wrong In Crewland

No smiles in Columbus as of late. Is it selection? Team problems?

The Columbus Crew have dropped their last two league games by a combined score of 7-1. Ouch! We are like Blackpool vs. Chelsea or Arsenal when we face off against a Western Conference team. In the process of getting demolished in the last two league games, the Crew have nearly knocked themselves out of the Supporters Shield race after battling so hard to get back into it; as the Crew find themselves six points adrift of LA, after being tied with them last week, and 3 points behind RSL without a hope of catching either at their current form. Moreover, the 4-nil shelling at the hands of Seattle and Sigi Schmid on Saturday makes it look like Columbus doesn't have a hope in matching up with any Western Conference side in the playoffs. Further, that meet up against Seattle again in the U.S. Open Cup Final in October doesn't look as appealing hardware-wise as it once did.

All of this leads to a question that has started to float around like a stench that no one wants to take credit for after our last two shellings against RSL and LA; A question that finally needs to be answered with some moves after Saturday night's embarrassment in front of 17,144, one of the better crowds of the year for the Crew. Namely, What the hell is going on?

Actually I have quite a few questions...

1. Why on earth is Warzycha continuing to start players that never perform over players that consistently perform? Leandre Griffit scored a beautiful goal against Joe Public on Wednesday night. Griffit looks lively every time he is on the field and has scored twice in four overall appearances in all competitions for the Crew. Griffit brings a talent and a confidence that comes with time in the English Premiership that other midfielders on the Crew, except for possibly Gaven, appear to not have. Yet how does Warzycha celebrate Griffit's brillant play on Wednesday night; Well, if you guessed by leaving him completely off the 18 man roster? Your shockingly right.

Andres Mendoza has been with the Crew for nearly two months practicing with the squad as he worked out his visa issues; By the time he was cleared by FIFA everyone expected Mendoza to be game fit and ready to take over at striker. But, despite scoring in the few minutes he was in against L.A. and despite looking very good against Joe Public last Wednesday, Mendoza got 16 junk minutes this weekend against Seattle while the inconsistent Garey and Lenhart continue to start. Sorry, Robert, but Garey and Lenhart are nowhere near Mendoza or Renteria's level and shouldn't be starting over them in the league.

Garey and Lenhart are good players and have a role off the bench that can lead to goals at the end of games. But, neither one played in Mexico, France, Belgium, Ukraine and neither might just end up being a nation's top striker in qualifying for World Cup 2014 (Renteria has a chance for Venezuela); I don't think either of those two things are in the cards for either one of our strikers not from South America.

But, I know, I know, that the Crew have this high esteem for themselves where it takes any new signing two years to get into the starting eleven (just look at Renteria who performs better than nearly everyone on the team and continues to sit on the bench); But, at some damn time they need to get over themselves and inject the better players in there right away to inject some life into a dead squad, a dead attack, and a dead midfield.

Griffit should get a chance on the left flank but despite solid play, Rogers who has been out of comission for two months has a better chance of seeing league time first for whatever reason. Renteria and Mendoza should be prefered over Lenhart and Garey, it's a crime that Renteria scores every two games and can't find a spot on this starting eleven.

2. Duka is better than Moffat and Burns; Or hell can't be worse- Our team overall is more defensive and slower than it has to be. Heck, even with two dm's and four defenders, and midfielders that like to track back we still lose 4-nil. Well, Duka is a midfielder who can play both and he is actually a high talent in the U.S. system... Something Burns or Moffat will never claim for any nation except maybe Bermuda. So, why the hell wouldn't you give Duka a shot if the other players you run out underperform consistently. At the moment we have no one creative to pair with Schelotto in our midfield and Duka has looked like a breath of fresh air every time he comes on. Further, every time I see Duka and Schelotto together they seem to be very similiar players and find each other well.

With Carroll and Moffat or Burns the midfield transition is too slow and unless the ball gets to Schelotto there is no one finding those creative players with Moffat or Burns passing the ball around.

1+2= gets us to 3. There may be a reason why we look so much better in the CONCACAF Champions League than we have in league play recently- And no it's not because Joe Public and Municipal are vastly inferior.. We have even looked better against Santos. Were just more creative with that lineup, more interesting to watch, and create better opportunities because there is better, more creative players on the field.

Think of it this way, our league play starting eleven plays like Blackpool (a team of overachievers who can play well against a decent team but get shelled against any club with real talent) and our Champions League starting eleven looks like Arsenal (a team with fresh ideas and fresh players that are quicker and more technically adept who eventually find a way to exploit an inferior or even good team).

4. Who does Warzycha blame when things go wrong? The subpar players he surrounds Schelotto with in league play or Schelotto? Schelotto. The only talent sometimes in the attack for the Crew midfield in recent weeks in league play. According to TheCrew.com, Warzycha said the following about Schelotto, “If he plays well, I don’t have a problem putting him on the field," Warzycha said. "But for some reason he can’t find the game right now."

Maybe it isn't Schelotto and maybe it has more to do with the players surrounding him like Burns, Moffat, Lenhart, and a tired Gaven. No wonder there isn't much offensive punch.

5. So is the Crew going to two actual strikers up top? From the same article: “I would look for more power in front,” Warzycha said. “Obviously, with Steven [Lenhart] and Guillermo, the last game I don’t think we had enough. Maybe we’ll go with a little bit of speed up front [against Santos],” Warzycha said.

I'm not cool with blaming Schelotto..I think it has more to do with what he has been surrounded with. And, I wish there was a way to get him, Mendoza, and Renteria on the field at all times together. But, if the only alternative for right now is to give Schelotto some rest and try Renteria and Mendoza up top together this may just save our season... Especially, if you can find some way to have enough defense in the back while having Renteria and Mendoza up top with Schelotto somewhere behind.

Warzycha needs to admit his mistakes now before it bombs our season. Warzycha needs to give Mendoza and Renteria a shot up top together. I think there are a boatload of goals possible with that combination..

In comparison, I don't see no goals if Guillermo has only Garey or Lenhart to combine with. Just in that stituation, Lenhart or Garey are on their own little island and Guillermo is on his own 10-15 yards behind them and neither has the ability to combine with the other effectively alone.

On the other hand, Mendoza and Renteria can be a poweful combination. So, I hope that's what Warzycha means by more power and speed.. And he's not thinking of Garey who doesn't have a lot of either of those capabilities.. But, who knows with Warzycha these days..

Feels like somewhere he lost the script and that he should start listening to Bliss a little bit more who has brought in the right talent in Griffit, Mendoza, and Renteria; and who has done a wonderful job at winning two championships already for the Crew at the youth level this year.

Warzycha admires the hard working player that overachieves.. It's an Eastern European trait that's admirable and it's also the Columbus Crew's motto. Every player the Crew has on the roster has a role and all have talent.. But, heaven forbid we start our best talent once in a while.

Here, I'll spell it out for you--

Hejduk----Marshall--O'Rourke---Padula(when back to health and no you don't have to always start Iro)
Gaven/Renteria--Duka/Gaven--Griffit/Rogers (Ekpo first off bench left or right mid)


But, what should you expect? THE SAME LINEUPS, THE SAME FAILINGS IN THE PLAYOFFS AS LAST YEAR Especially when the Crew organization feeds us crap like this right after an embarrassing 4-nil loss: Crew result not indicative of performance- Despite a 4-0 loss to Seattle, Columbus sees positives in game.

REALLY? REALLY! FYI Crew, A 4-0 loss is always an awful performance. There is no excuse for that if you want to wear the Crew jersey.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

9/15/2010: Crew Demolish Joe Public 3-nil, Griffit and Mendoza Looked Sharp

Griffit had a nice runout for Columbus against Joe Public, a beautiful goal as well to open up the Joe Public defense in the 47th minute too.

The Columbus Crew continue to do well against any side not named Real Salt Lake or the Los Angeles Galaxy; as the Crew cruised past Joe Public 3-nil last night in front of a small crowd at Columbus Crew Stadium.

The goalscoring started off in the 47th minute when the Crew's Frenchman Leandre Griffit sent a technically adept, curling curve ball past the Joe Public keeper and into the net to make it 1-nil Crew. New Peruvian striker Andres Mendoza was credited with the assist on that goal but unfornately couldn't open his own Champions League account with the Crew despite several opportunities in the first half to do so.

The Griffit goal relaxed the Crew and their finishing improved as Jason Garey was able to make it 2-nil just minutes later; as a cross by Emmanuel Ekpo found Garey's head in the 51st minute and the ball then glanced into the back of the net.

The Crew would cap the night off in the 79th minute as a nice assist by Crew youngster Dilly Duka found Steven Lenhart near the 18 on the right side; Lenhart would send a powerful strike across his body that would find paydirt in the left side of the net to make it 3-nil Crew.

The win, despite being against an undermanned Trinidad & Tobago side, should give the Crew the needed confidence to hopefully turn their fortunes around this weekend against the Seattle Sounders at home. The Crew need to get back to their winning ways after losing a pivotal game against L.A. the previous Saturday. The loss puts the Crew a game behind in the Supporters Shield race. However, the Crew still have a favorable schedule with struggling teams such as Toronto, Chicago, and Philadelphia still left on the docket.

While the Supporters Shield race is still up for grabs, the Crew should be feeling pretty good about their chances now of advancing in the CONCACAF Champions League. The Crew's six points is only second to Santos Laguna (on 7 pts) while Municipal and Joe Public both are struggling with only 2 and 1 pts respectively. If the Crew have a favorable result in their next game against Santos that should be enough for them to qualify from the group. I would expect the Crew to be up for the Santos game at home as payback for a tie they should of received the first go around down in Mexico.

Andy Gruenebaum- 7.0: Doing a solid job at being the CONCACAF Champions League starting goalkeeper. Looking like a very viable option if Hesmer ever gets injured. Shutout deserves a good rating, even though Gruenebaum was rarely tested by Joe Public.
Duncan Oughton- 7.2: Good job shutting down the middle and distributing. Nice to see Oughton being productive in games like this.
Eric Brunner- 7.1: Good to get him starting, Joe Public didn't give him or Marshall many issues.
Chad Marshall- 7.5: Joe Public strikers were no match for Marshall.
Andy Iro (came in 79th minute)- 6.8: Did fine when he came in to relieve Marshall.
Shaun Francis- 6.8: Getting better with more time on the field.
Adam Moffat- 6.5: Not bad, but could of got into the attack a little more with Garey and Griffit.
Emmanuel Ekpo- 8.0: Always looks fantastic against these subpar CONCACAF teams that don't seem to scout Ekpo or the Crew in general.
Dilly Duka (came in 61st minute)- 7.2: Nice assist, but should be getting starting minutes in games like this.
Leandre Griffit- 8.5: I like how Griffit plays, would like to see him get an opportunity with the starting 11 more often. I think he is really technically adept.
Kevin Burns- 7.0: Not a bad day out. Showing to be good depth for CONCACAF and U.S. Open Cup.
Jason Garey- 7.7: Nice header, lively for most of the game.
Andres Mendoza- 7.9: Dangerous most of his time in during his first start. Nice big frame, will be a nice option and threat for the Crew in the attack.
Steven Lenhart (came in 65th minute)- 7.6: Beautiful goal.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

9/7/2010: Daily Update- Crew Trialist Ent Scoring Back In Holland, Voodoo for Marc Burch, NORonTOUR Continues Stops, No Becks For First Place Showdown

Ent's MLS dreams may have to wait another year, but that's not affecting his form back in Holland.

**It seems that neither the Columbus Crew or Toronto F.C. had enough interest in the end to make a late Summer move for Dayton Dutch Lions 23-year-old Bas Ent. Ent trialed for Toronto in mid-July and for the Crew in early-August, but is now back with first place, third division (Dutch topklasse side) VV Katwijk. Ent scored the winner the previous week here at the 5:33 mark and will square off against another former Dutch Lions striker, Hans van de Haar this weekend; van de Haar plays for second place Spakenburg and will battle Ent for first place in the Topklasse this Saturday:


**After the Crew's 2-1 victory over D.C. United in the U.S. Open Cup Semifinal, former Crew defender turned D.C. United part-timer Marc Burch felt that his team was slighted in the U.S. Open Cup Semifinal loss because in his opinion the Crew "have dirty players" and so Burch claimed him and United "would be out for revenge (in a regular season rematch) on Saturday."

Well, Burch didn't get a chance to be a part of that lackluster revenge.. Lackluster in every way as the Crew would march on to another win with D.C. registering no shots on goal. But, very lackluster for Burch who couldn't even play a part despite his words; as despite looking perfectly healthy in a postgame slam of the Crew for DCUnited.tv, Burch had to miss Saturday's rematch because he required season-ending surgery to his right foot that was injured against the Crew in Wednesday's Semifinal game.

Could voodoo have played a part? I posted the above image. But, a previous one I made had Schelotto holding Burch's right foot; although I figured that was a bit too harsh.. However, it seems my Guillermo-inspired voodoo may have worked on Marc Burch.


**Another sizeable Crew crowd made their way to the nation's capital this Saturday to cheer on Columbus (below). Crew fans have added New York, Philadelphia, F.C. Dallas, and D.C. United so far this year to their usual big trips to rivals Chicago and Toronto (both Chicago and Toronto still remain on the away trips this season). According to the always reliable wikipedia, this phenomenon is known as "NorOnTour". Hey, I like it, add it next to "Massive", "Nordecke", & "Canaries" in your Crew vocabulary.


**Beckham was hoping to make his return to the L.A. Galaxy squad this Saturday in a crucial matchup against the Columbus Crew. Both Columbus and L.A. have 13-5-5 records and Saturday's game is for first place in the league as well as to take control of the Supporters Shield race. However, according to CrewXtra, Beckham will have to wait another week for his return.

Good news for the Crew, who will look to continue the late-season struggles of a Beckham-less L.A.