Never Quit

Columbus Crew players never gave up last night, symbolically have a lot in common with their fans.

Columbus Crew after Polish winger

Columbus apparently has interest in 23 year old Przemysław Frankowski.

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.

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)