Carolina Challenge Cup won

2 wins and a tie, the Crew moving in a correct direction.

Acura Makes Sense

Compared to Barbasol and Glidden in my opinion.

Martinez with nice assist for Panama U-20's

Panama advances to next round against Honduras and Costa Rica.

Welcome to Crewture.

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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

3/31/2010: Crew Trialing French Midfielder Leandre Griffit



The Crew are now trialing 25 year old, French midfield-winger Leandre Griffit. Griffit has played for clubs Amiens SC, Southampton, Crystal Palace, and IF Elfsborg, among others. Griffit hasn't really stuck at any one club nevertheless, only making 64 appearances total professionally with just three goals. However, Griffit did have something to strike the eye of Southampton when they were in the Premiership and Crystal Palace when they were in the Championship. Griffit most recently made 5 appearances for Crystal Palace in 2009 before departing ways with the London club. Griffit also made two U-21 appearances for the French National Team back in his youth. Most recently Griffit was on trial with the Houston Dynamo in the preseason, before coming on trial to Columbus.

What's most interesting about the trial is why would the Crew need anymore wingers? We already have Rogers, Gaven, and Ekpo? Unless were moving Rogers or he is headed to Europe. Just seems a bit odd when our midfield, especially on the wings, is already quite deep.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

3/30/2010: The Chances Of Us Seeing Some Sergio Ever?


A cartoon by Crew fan Rick Thomas, featuring Columbian forward Sergio Herrera who is looking like a bust so far for the Crew and Warzycha.

So what happened with Sergio Herrera? He was supposed to be the man that changed all the Crew's scoring woes. He was considered by 90% percent of my readers to be the answer for the Crew. Sergio even hooked up nicely with Schelotto on the first day of training camp (for two goals) aweing defender Jed Zayner on his blog who said, "it feels as if Schelotto and Sergio have played together for years."

Fast forward a month or two later and Sergio's behind Jason Garey as the fifth or sixth striker on the depth chart despite Herrera's high salary. Throughout training camp it appears that Herrera has scored, but apparently often times the Crew have leaked the fact to the Columbus Dispatch that Herrera has been disappointing in preseason. Usually when you go to the media about a player being disappointing that player ends up being cut (search Ali Gerba) or the Crew just doesn't think that Sergio Herrera can read English. Or the Crew just doesn't care; Herrera must be that bad. As there would be no other reason to diss in the media an international who has scored more goals than the rest of your forwards combined during his career. Unless this is one of Warzycha's odd motivation tactics circa Schelotto vs. Real Salt Lake 2009.

But, look the Crew signed him without doing their homework, so instead of ragging on Herrera shouldn't they just say we bungled this scouting job like we did with our rationalization for drafting Bright Dike. So, then why are the Crew treating Herrera like dog crap in the media when (if he really isn't good anymore) they obviously looked the guy up on wikipedia, thought his stats looked good, and decided lets sign him to a big contract. I mean really, if they would have read some Columbian press they might have learned that Herrera failed two physicals for Columbian first division clubs before coming to the Crew and therefore might have nagging ankle problems. The fact that the deal came out of nowhere, proverbial left field, makes me feel as if the Crew didn't do their homework on this one.

On the other hand, maybe Herrera suffers from the same South American bug that Schelotto suffers from where he just doesn't get up for the preseason and practices. Way back when, when we signed Schelotto Warzycha asked Sigi if, "he was sure about this guy Schelotto?" Because Schelotto apparently dogged it in practice. Sigi said something along the lines of, "oh yeah I'm sure." If Warzycha was the coach then (instead of Sigi) possibly Schelotto would have gotten cut back in 2007 as well for not being passionate about practice.

If this lack of zeal for practice is the case or even if it's not the case with Herrera. I think the Crew should give the damn guy at least 45 minutes on the field with Schelotto before calling him a big disappointment. If he is a big disappointment it's their fault for signing him. But, if he was just a big disappointment in the preseason (even though he scored often in the preseason which is his only job) the Crew needs to realize that the preseason does not count for anything, so why not give this guy some minutes to see what he has before completely writing him off.

Monday, March 29, 2010

3/29/2010: A Crew Win To Start The Season Is A Step Above Last Year, But The Crew Should Have Put TFC Away Much Sooner


Crew fans had a good ammount to celebrate on Saturday, but were they blown away? (Pic by Sam Fahmi, click here for more pictures of his at the Massive Report)

The Columbus Crew got the 2-0 victory on Saturday and it was a dominating performance for the most part for Columbus as TFC had their moments, but not many moments of the dangerous variety. However, the Crew kept TFC too close for too long in this one for my blood pressure. As the Crew had one golden opportunity after another to close this one up early in the second half. But, they time after time kept picking the wrong or half decent, last option instead of the best, last option in the attack. Yet I knew our Crew were still going to win, as despite all of this TFC looked 20 times more uninspiring in their attack. But, I still had the thought lingering in the back of my head of the Crew giving up the three points on another defensive mistake for another 1-1 draw in the opener. As I was waiting for one of our defenders to pull a Gino ala 2009 opener.

However, the defense held tough and in regards to the combining within the attack hopefully it is just a bit of rust and the Crew attack will be more in sync as the season goes on. Although with a couple more missed opportunities, I think Renteria and Ekpo may find themselves in some bigger roles this year compared to the last one (as the attack seems a bit too predictable at times with them on the bench). I thought Lenhart battled well but the midfield attack seemed a little disjointed in combination with the forwards, yet enough to get by on a weaker TFC side. Still the scoresheet surprised me a bit because I did not expect it to read "goal by Andy Iro" against a rebuilt on-the-fly TFC side and I didn't expect our attack to need 86 minutes and an open net to get on the scoresheet against in shambles Toronto. I'm sure I'm not alone as many Nordeckians probably didn't think we would rely on Iro (yet good on him, he's showing improvement) and the follies of Garcia and Frei to win this one. But, a win is a win. And, heck I'll always take a "W" anyway that the Crew can get one.

And, don't get me wrong I'm happy with the win, it's a step in the right direction in comparison to our dreadful 2009 start. But, I just wasn't blown away by our attack and it just all seemed to me that the Crew knew they were going to win 2-0 and TFC knew it was going to end up that way eventually, so the Crew didn't push the issue by focusing on their finishing and TFC bunkered until late in the game.

Further, the Crew should have had this Crewsmas present rapped with a bow on it at 3-0 by the 50th minute as two point blank opportunities by Gaven and Moffat were wasted in the opening minutes of the second half. Then later on in the half, Rogers had many chances to make something happen down the right side just to dribble into 4 or 5 TFC defenders.

I don't think that TFC was particularly good at all, despite what the Toronto Sun writes. In fact, there a shambolic side when you can miss so many opportunities and still waltz away with a 2-0 victory. I just think the Crew were capable to put that one away much sooner. I think you can mainly though chalk it up to opening day jitters and if we can still come away 2-0 (we rarely won by more than a goal over anyone during 2008) then overall you can take that as a positive sign of things to come in 2010.

3/29/2010: Crewture CCTV- Crew vs. TFC Footage

Just some random footage I took throughout gameday (10 minutes in length):

Sunday, March 28, 2010

3/28/2010: Video- Crewsmas Eve Party & Crew Fan Predictions

I just got back home today from Columbus so I'm a little behind, but I'll start out with a video from Friday night at Claddagh's with a little pregame partying and some predictions for the TFC game. Of course all the guys were wrong and the lady nails it right on the head:


I got some good celebration and game footage that I'll have up a little bit later tonight. Cheers.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

3/25/2010: The Tale Of Two Teams- Crew vs. TFC Preview


TFC may give a good battle, but there is one trophy that the Crew will be certainly hoisting this 2010 season.

One team has a full roster where every spot on the field is deep with reserves who can step up and get the job done. That team comes into this game as two-time Supporters Shield winners (awarded to the team with the best record at the end of the season) and has won the MLS Cup the season before last. This team also was a ball bounce or two away from beating Toluca, a top Mexican side, in the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals. In the midfield alone, a top American prospect with an expectant future, Dilly Duka, finds himself at the back of the midfield depth chart that includes Schelotto, Gaven, Rogers, Ekpo, Moffat, Carroll, and even Renteria. For the other team, Duka would probably be starting somewhere in the midfield on Saturday.

For the other team things in the offseason have been really bad. As this other team seems to be actually regressing in their fourth season compared to their second and third years in the league. How bad? Their forward Ali Gerba is taking legal action to get out of his contract but their coach has said the mediumly expensive forward is not in their plans anyways. If Gerba goes elsewhere in MLS (although no one probably felt he was worth anything in the first place except this team), this team will still have to pay most of his salary. Just like they're paying most of Carl Robinson's salary so that the Welsh international can command the New York Red Bulls midfield. This team has also been rumoured to have owners, coaches, and players scraping off the field. As a result of all the turmoil and players not in the coaches plans, it's been a clearinghouse in recent weeks. As Adrian Serioux is now in Houston and starting right back Marvell Wynne was dealt to Colorado for virtually nothing in return two days before the opener.

Rebuilding Year For TFC?

Starting right back Marvell Wynne was traded for Colorado Rapids youngster Nick LaBrocca while backup keeper Brian Edwards was waived. As apparently with only 18 players on the total roster TFC still does not have enough cap space to sign other players. TFC is likely making room to sign Canadian player Adrian Cann and Argentinian player of Croatian descent, Martin Saric. Another sign of a team in flux compared to the first team mentioned, Columbus, is that if Cann and Saric are signed they would be expected to start right away for TFC. Sure they have been with the team all preseason but compare that to a Crew signing who has been in camp all preseason; As the Crew's new Colombian striker Sergio Herrera with nearly 20 goals in the Colombian First Division last year has to wait for his shot, just like everyone else. And he has a much more impressive pedigree compared to TFC's Cann and Saric.

Rebuilding year or not, it's been a rebuilding offseason for TFC. No one can deny that Preki has made his mark, he has gutted at least half of the entire starting lineup from last season. And, I'm not sure if they have enough time to come together and turn this new group into a Playoff side.

Columbus Looking Stronger Than Ever

Coming into this season the Crew's only notable loss was Alejandro Moreno (which wasn't too huge of a loss based on his form of only four goals last season). The Crew replaced him with Sergio Herrera and Emilio Renteria, with Emilio showing great form against Toluca. Combine that with Steven Lenhart's performance in the first Toluca game, which was hopefully a glimpse of what is to come this season, and the front line looks dramatically improved. Other than the signing of Colombian Sergio Herrera and the acquistion of the young, talented midfielder Dilly Duka the Crew brings back entirely the same team from last year. What makes them better though is that young players like Ekpo, Renteria, Gaven, Rogers, Lenhart, Garey, and Zayner now have another year under their belts and should continue to progress and get better instead of worse.

My Crew Lineup

--------------Hesmer----------------
Hejduk----Brunner--O'Rourke---Padula
--------------Carroll---------------
Renteria-------Gaven------------Ekpo
--------------Schelotto-------------
---------------Lenhart--------------

Or

--------------Hesmer----------------
Hejduk----Brunner---O'Rourke--Padula
--------------Carroll---------------
Gaven----------Moffat----------Rogers
---------Schelotto------------------
--------------------Herrera---------

TFC's Lineup: No backup goalkeeper with Edwards waived, but apparently Conway or someone will be there as an emergency backup. And, I just saw that Cann is also no longer on trial, I wrote that first part earlier in the day. The Toronto FC lineup changes by the minute.

------------Frei
-Attakora-Harden-Garcia-Brennan
-----------Sanyang------------
-----Cronin-de Guzman-Gala
--------White-DeRosario

Subs
Herold
Ibrahim
LaBrocca
Saric?
Conway?

TFC currently has 15 healthy signed players on their roster.

Prediction: The Crew are just way too good and way too deep at every position to lose to the patchwork unit that TFC is putting out, as other then De Rosario (who isn't the same De Ro) and de Guzman, they really don't have many players who have proved themselves yet in MLS. Even though the moves Preki is making may pay off in the future, at the moment there is just way too much uncertainty in their camp. So, this one is going to be a blowout in every sense of the word.

Columbus 4, TFC 0. Goals by Lenhart (7th), Lenhart (21st), Guillermo (51st), and Renteria (88th)

3/25/2010: Preki Concerned With Toronto's Negative Waves


Ahh, man I hate this town.

From MLSSoccer.com, Preki wonders why TFC is so negative compared to the LA press who probably had no clue who or what Chivas USA was:
“We do have a plan (were just not sure what it is yet) and we’re working and talking all the time,” Preki said. “We’re trying to get better, but the better thing for us would be if we can see the city of Toronto gather around the team. Because in the short time I’ve been here I haven’t seen too many positive things around the team.”

Come on you guys, huzzah! TFC hasn't been in the playoffs ever and Preki drops four or five contributors and doesn't replace them. I can definitely see where this plan is going, can't you?

“It’s just a very negative setup around the city in terms of the press, the media and at some point I’m going to have to cut it off because my job is to defend these guys [and if it doesn’t improve] we’ll lose that relationship, all of us.”

Ohh, snap.

"I understand the results in the past, I fully understand that, but (I'm here now and I'm pretty awesome and) unless we get together and stick together as a city and an organization here we’re not going to go too far because that bridge has to be better and we have to see more positive things on the press side,” Preki said. “Obviously we want to see a better product and hopefully we’ll get that side a little bit better, and maybe we can get this [media] side a little better and we can get everyone more excited about the team.”

I'm kind of confused what the Toronto media has done so negative. They have a crap team and yet they still cover this crap team. The Toronto media should be getting Mo Johnston happy endings for this. And, this is good for Columbus because you can see that not even the coach is totally focused on Saturday yet. So, I see a blowout on the horizon.

**I'll have a match preview up early tonight, as well as some other stories.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

3/25/2010: Trillum Cup Hillarity & TFC vs. Crew Preview Upcoming Later This Morning



Seriously, you could give these awards out by the hour for all the special TFC fans out there, such as this one:

I for one ( all for one ) am dissapointed that NEE are going to Clownbus after the treatment in Year 1 (umm you mean year two right?) by the local douchebags ... these guys deserve a total boycott in their opener. Let them fill their own stadium ( which they cannot do with a winning team ). They need us but we don't need to be tasered and disrepected ... so go to Boston or Chicago which are real cities !!!

Yeah Columbus is actually a city made out of cardboard.

And in response from another TFC fan:
Well, to be fair, the guy that got tasered deserved it. None the less, the police there need to learn how to deal with a football crowd.

So, wait the one TFC fan that got tasered deserved it and the TFC and Crew fans who provoked each other both on the concourse for 45 minutes deserved to both be pepper sprayed for not leaving and acting like morons. Then wait what are they exactly boycotting again? Do not get. As TFC fans hold a grudge more than forty year old women in a book club.

I mean look I could raise a fuss. I got pepper sprayed for being dumb and watching the spectacle off to the side of the cheer off going on, on the concourse in 2009. I deserved it for being in a dumb place at the wrong time and I got over it. Not sure how they're not over it yet, but whatever. I also ran through a melee of TFC fans before at their stadium who were throwing punches; but I'm over it, been over it, and will be back again. So what?

Anyways, apparently there isn't 500 TFC fans coming but like 200 or whatever the Crew front office and some spurious travel outfit called Proway is telling TFC fans today. I hope there are quite a bit though so they can teach us culture.





As I know my dumb ass doesn't look as cool shotgunning a beer and the second dude only took a couple of minutes to tie his shoes, down in Columbus it takes us a good half hour.

3/24/2010: Crew Looking To Move To Brewery or Arena District In Next 10 Years?

That was the plan way back in the day until funding for a soccer stadium in 1999 put the Crew all the way out by the fairgrounds:


And, it seems to still be the plan of the Columbus Crew today. And, it is what Mark McCullers always says on upgrades to the current CCS, "why upgrade when we can save that money towards a new stadium?"

Shawn Mitchell spells it out:
You arrive, via major highway, probably Rt. 315 or I-670.

You park in a paved space or in a garage, maybe in the same spot you use for Blue Jackets or Clippers games.

You walk a short distance, perhaps west on Nationwide Boulevard, just past Huntington Park, or south, toward COSI and Veterans Memorial and the Brewery District.

You enter the Crew's sparkling new stadium, adorned with the logo of a local company that has paid a hefty sum for the right to name the park.

Your seat could be in one of a few prime locations: a climate-controlled suite with full amenities; a midfield perch in the upper deck, complete with a chair back and a cup holder; a spot on the standing-room only terrace, where the Nordecke - now 5,000 strong - congregates to sing and drum and raise a ruckus.

When the game is over, you head off into the bustling Downtown night. Your choices for postgame libations are many and varied. You'll talk about what might happen next week during practice at the Crew's state-of-the art training complex in Delaware County.

That was your night out for the Crew game. Getting stuck in the mud at the state fairgrounds is a faint memory.


I imagine placing it downtown in the Brewery or Arena District and making the building all brick on the outside in German Village style. Making it a cathedral for Crew Soccer with a roof and no stages (if they need a stage put it outside the stadium). Make it a real soccer stadium, in the heart of downtown, something that Columbus citizens can say wow to (like Red Bull Arena). AS THERE IS NO POINT IN MAKING A NEW STADIUM IF YOU MAKE ONE THAT IS NOT MUCH BETTER THAN THE CURRENT IN EVERY WAY. If the attention to soccer detail is there though, I bet the Crew could sell out 20,000 a season in such a scenario or will at least see a dramatic uptick.

The current stadium just does not feel big league. A stage does not feel big league.
Even Dave Matthews jumped ship from CCS to have his concert at the baseball stadium that does not have a stage. There are too many concert venues in Columbus, that as soon as we build another concert venue, there will be a better one a few years down the road. So why not keep our business to soccer?

If you put a stadium downtown and make it attractive you will sell many more tickets. CCS just isn't that attractive and doesn't feel like an event often times (I mean mud bogging my mustang at a Crew game isn't an event) and as a result you have to look at making extra money via concerts.

There are solutions to make a stadium concert-ready without a stage, just put some empty space behind the one goal (enough for a stage), have steep seats behind it, and then have your concert that way. Stages in SSS's totally ruin the look of a stadium.

Instead we should have a brick stadium, with a roof, downtown. I think that baby would sell out. Look at Red Bull Arena(it is beautiful without a gimmicky stage! If the Red Bull owners would have went with the Colorado Rapids and FCD stage stadium designs, they're going to sell way less tickets). So, at some point whoever is owning this team has to figure out if they're in the soccer business or the rock on the range business.

You can still have some concerts without making a massive stage. Just have to be smart about it. There are ways to make it look like an actual soccer stadium and still make it easy for a concert.

Also, interesting was that Noorzai's group wanted to dismantle CCS and move it to the Brewery District, lol.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

3/23/2010: From TFC's Locker Room

The players, especially Julian de Guzman, do not seem happy with a lack of a full roster. TFC is starting with about 18 players under contract, 15 or 16 players able to play with Barrett, Peterson, and some others out. In comparison the Crew come into this season with a full roster except non-crucial injuries to backups Andy Greunebaum and Shaun Francis, and more than likely starters Chad Marshall and Jed Zayner out:


Preki on his team and Saturday's game:

3/23/2010: Crew Part Ways With First Round Pick Bright Dike, Go With Fourth Rounder Othaniel Yanez Instead



The Columbus Crew selected Bright Dike and Dilly Duka in the first round of the Superdraft this season. Their second selection in the first round, Bright Dike, has been cut and a fourth rounder Othaniel Yanez instead picks up the last Crew roster spot; as Warzycha's first round gamble with Dike apparently did not work out as planned. Dike was apparently a wasted draft selection by Warzycha and company with a lot of other options on the table. Warzycha will likely take a little flak for it but with how the team has looked against Toluca and how they're shaping up as an even better looking outfit compared to the 2008 and 2009 squads, most will not quip over it.

So, welcome to Yanez, hopefully he has something to offer that Dike as well as Elenio and Grendi (both were cut as well today) did not have to offer.

Crew opening day roster

GK: William Hesmer, Andy Gruenebaum (injured reserve), Kenny Schoeni

D: Frankie Hejduk, Chad Marshall, Andy Iro, Eric Brunner, Gino Padula, Jed Zayner, Shaun Francis, Danny O'Rourke

MF: Brian Carroll, Adam Moffat, Robbie Rogers, Eddie Gaven, Kevin Burns, Emmanuel Ekpo, Othaniel Yanez, Duncan Oughton, Dilaver Duka

F: Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Sergio Herrera, Emilio Renteria, Jason Garey, Steven Lenhart

3/23/2010: Around 500 TFC Fans Expected On Saturday, What Kind Of Fans Will They Be?



First off, I was happy to see that a better than expected number of TFC fans are coming down to the game on Saturday, which is good because it helps with the overall atmosphere and the spurious nature of Crew opening weekend (I guess you take the good with the bad on that part). As just having away fans always makes any game more interesting no matter if it's TFC, Chicago, or D.C. United. 500 is a pretty good number considering the larger TFC groups, Red Patch Boys and U-Sector, have decided not to come as a group. The NEE! are still coming and apparently a bunch of randoms are coming; hopefully not the randoms who caused troubles last season trying to fulfill their hooligan fantasies. But, I have some concerns about the group of people that might be showing up. Either they're a bunch of 40 and 50 year olds not attached to the groups and have no clue that RPB and U-Sector are boycotting this game. Or there a bunch of teenagers and 20 something's that despite what the RPB's or U-Sector decided to do, decided to come to Columbus because they get off on causing a ruckus with Columbus fans and possibly even the cops.

Anyways, lets say that out of the group of 2,000 TFC fans last year, there were 200 down on the concourse that wanted to exchange profanities and whatever else with Crew fans. I think it's more than likely that those 200 will be back again compared to some of the TFC fans (RPB and U-Sector) that said enough of this, I'm going to New England. So, more than likely half of the TFC fans will be oblivious older adults just looking for an enjoyable time and the other half will be all the troublemakers from last year.

Just hope security is on top of it this year despite the smaller number of TFC fans. And, I might be totally off and everyone will just enjoy the match. Either way, I figure security will be on top of it this year because the Crew front office will want to keep the venue safe for all fans. But, it may not matter in terms of turning off some families, because some Crew families just skip out on this game and start their Crew season at the next one.

Monday, March 22, 2010

3/22/2010: Lenhart & Company Doing The Jerk

This shit is great. Man got to love Lenhart:


And, I love how even Schelotto is now doing the jerk.

3/22/2010: Pioneer Cup Highlights

Some highlights and discussion from the Crew's 2-1 loss in the Pioneer Cup at a surprisingly snowy FC Dallas:

3/22/2010: TFC Fans Organize Away Trips Based On Cultural Activities



I guess when your team is such a joke that Ali Gerba is using an attorney to get out of it, you trade Welsh international Carl Robinson to New York for a draft pick (yet TFC is still paying for most of Robinson's salary to command the Red Bull midfield), trialists do not show up and decide they rather play in third division Portugal, and all the fans believe a rumor that Mo Johnston is throwing blows with players; I too would probably only organize my trips around sightseeing.

Your humor for the day straight from U-Sector:
"There are actual cultural type things to do in Boston."

Every away game I have been on from Washington D.C. to Chicago to Toronto, the only culture I wanted to see in any city is us kicking the other teams ass and a bar or a night club.

"I've been to Columbus four times for TFC games already. I'd much rather go to a city with more to offer (Boston)."

Sure they have more to offer. I mean yeah if your taking the trip to also tour Fenway Park and the site of the Boston Tea Party or something. As far as fans, they probably have more to offer as well for TFC "this is our house" types, as TFC will easily take over that place. Last year in Columbus not so much.

If TFC fans want to have a rivalry with a section of 15 people because they're scared of helicopters and mace, that's fine by me. I enjoy looking across the stadium and seeing 50 pitiful looking away support.

I'm hoping no one goes so the powers that be opt for us to play a different team to open our season next time around.

I can assure you it's our massive trips down to the rancid belly of the beast that is Columbus that's motivating the league to put us there first.

If we do things right this year, I bet we get Philly, NYC, or Boston from now on.


Yeah, I rather reinvent a rivalry with New York too so we can visit that lovely stadium two times a year, but rivalries don't work that way. Then again TFC isn't really a rival until they beat us which will be like never.

Fuck Columbush, that shitty won't even be in thish league in a couple yearsh.

We should start lobbying now for them to move to Syracuse or something. ;)


I can assure you that the best team and supporters section in MLS isn't going anywhere. ;-) Three more years of Mo Johnston and they'll have to move TFC because only 3,000 people will be able to bear that joke of a team for much longer.

Also, apparently North End Elite are still coming so they are the ones I can respect the most since they don't have to be treated like princesses to still show up.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

3/20/2010: New CBA 5 Year Deal Reached



From Soccerbyives a half hour ago:
The 2010 Major League Soccer season will begin on time after the league and its players union agreed to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement on Saturday. The sides agreed to a new five-year deal.

MLS commissioner Don Garber and MLS players union executive Bob Foose announced the deal in a conference call on Saturday.

Guaranteed contracts (details to come on how many), improved freedom of movement by players out of contract (not quite free agency) and "greatly improved compensation" for players.

You can now start to party and get ready for the 2010 season.


All I have to say is that 2010 will be a lot better since this deal got done. Sweetness.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

3/18/2010: Cool Add-On To Crew 2010 Video

Pretty cool testimonials at the end:

3/18/2010: "And Your New Keeper Is.." Crew v. Toluca Postgame

So, how long before Andy Greunebaum is healthy?:


Hesmer should seriously spend more time focusing on goalkeeping for the Crew than being the CBA negotiation poster boy. I have heard some people call the second Sinha goal a lob and others call it a beautiful strike. But, it was a lob (a clinical lob but still a lob) and Hesmer was covering the near post, where the wall was, instead of covering the wide open far post, where there was no one getting in the way of a lob. I was at Claddagh's last night and there were a lot of "what the hell?" comments on that goal. There are also many there of the opinion that Hesmer has been average since mid-season last year and could base most of his salary increase on a good defense by MLS standards. You could check some bigsoccer threads to get the drift. So, if you wanted your answer Hesmer to why your not given the freedom and other rights of an EPL player, there you go. The mistreated Hesmer can strike for all I care, the Crew could have $100,000 extra bucks to spend on someone worth it. Gruenebaum is by no means a drop off, heck we could have picked up Hartman, or even have signed the Toluca goal posts who made more saves last night. Awful positioning on the second goal, why make it easier for Toluca?

**Lenhart goes from hero to villian. I won't diss on him because without him in the first game we are nowhere close to having a shot in the second leg. But, Renteria was just about to spring a hopeful looking counterattack and Lenhart gets his red when we are in possession of the ball. That is what is worse about that. Ruining a good opportunity by retailating then.

**Speaking of Renteria.. Why is he not starting!?!?!?!?!?! The guy has been outstanding both times on the field in this Quarterfinal. He has given us energy on the field and he has been very confident on the ball. When you look at someone who has been working hard in the offseason to improve, it's Renteria. And, actually Renteria might be better for us at right midfield, I think that is where he was at for both legs and he has looked fantastic there. I would be fine at putting him at right mid and moving Gaven to central or left midfield so we can get Rogers out of the starting eleven.

**Right there with Hesmer, someone relying on their name alone is Robbie Rogers. Rogers was god awful in the second leg. Every time he got the ball he would dribble it to a Toluca player for a nice counterattack, pass it to a Toluca player for a nice counterattack, or run to the end line and stumble out of bounds. The one time that his dribbling session worked he had a wide open Lenhart, with acres of space around him, and he played it 20 yards to the left of Lenhart. Terrible game last night, it's astonishing with how Rogers has been for the Crew that he gets as many call ups as he has for the US National Team.

**So, who showed well? O'Rourke, Guillermo, and Hejduk. O'Rourke was great, Guillermo fell down a bit too much in the beginning but had two goals and some fine dribbles around the Toluca defense, Hejduk redeemed himself from his play at the end of last season. Even Iro I thought played a better than usual game.

**Also, I thought the substitutions were a bit late last night. Rogers should have been off of the field at half. Renteria and Ekpo should have been on by the 60th minute, it was apparent by then that Rogers and Gaven were not going to show up with something magical for this game.

**In the end myself and other fans are probably being a little harsh as a preseason Crew did compete until the end against a Mexican side. This probably means we will absolutely crush a still befuddled TFC. But, at some point, with the missed chances and the boneheaded mistakes, the Crew should be in the Semifinal, preseason form or not it was their game for the taking.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

3/16/2010: Renteria- "If there is a strike, I'm going back to Venezuela"



Renteria believes that the March 27th game against TFC will not be played as neither side in the CBA negotiations is about to budge. Renteria says that he is unlikely to wait around if there is a work stoppage and will head back to Venezuela to play there.

From Lider en deportes:
"Until now, if that happens, I would go to Venezuela. I do not know if I'll train with Caracas or something, but here I will not stand idle," said a concerned Renteria. "Four months is a long time for a player without doing anything, and every foreigner is going to have to go home because we could not stay here."

However, Emilio says for now him and the team are focused on the game in Toluca and that he hopes to continue to do whatever to help the team.

3/16/2010: The Great Hope For TFC A Year Back Sent Home For Underperformance In Preseason



I remember a year back when TFC fans proclaimed that Ali Gerba was going to set MLS alight and take the Reds to the top. Well, that didn't happen and now Gerba is dangerously close to being cut from the team as he was sent home this preseason for underperforming.

"Ali's performance this pre-season has not been up to our expectations," Mo Johnston, Toronto FC's director of soccer, said in a statement Tuesday.

Man, when you can't meet the lowly expectations of TFC then you're pretty bad.

Monday, March 15, 2010

3/15/2010: "Headed To Hell"- Crew vs. Toluca Second Leg Preview



The diablos look to invite the Columbus Crew to hell up in the skies on Wednesday; as Toluca's El Nemesio Diaz Stadium is at a higher altitude than where the USA nats play in Mexico City but hopefully has less smog. Toluca are of course the favorites to go to the semifinals in this tied series and of course the Mexican press expects an easy ride to the semi's for the big boys of Mexican soccer. All you need is google translation to understand how much respect the Crew is getting South of the border in this one. But, overconfidence might be the crucifix for these devils as the Crew look to replicate their road success from the group stage.

Crew Cannot Let The Elements, The Fans, History, and Etc. Get To Them

The Crew need to throw out all excuses. Sure the playing at altitude sucks, Frankie has to say we'll get through it. Sure the fans might throw beers, Lenhart has to say screw them. Sure there players might dive, O'Rourke has to say we'll keep our composure. Sure there isn't much of a history of MLS teams winning important games in Mexico, Guillermo has to say screw their history because I have history too.

In addition to this attitude, the Crew should take some confidence on what they were able to do at Saprissa in the group stages; as no one expected the Crew to win at Saprissa's dragons liar (and most expected Saprissa to be in the Crew's place today) but the Crew did what they had to do there and now are where they are because of it. So, I believe that the Crew are a confident squad that will not be intimidated by Toluca and the surrounding conditions.

The Generals Are Back

Having the leadership back in the fold (Schelotto and Hejduk) for the second leg of this quarterfinal will be crucial for the Columbus Crew. Because if we were to march out the same lineup from last week down at Toluca I would say we don't stand a chance, but with Guillermo on the field I feel as if Columbus always has a chance.

Frankie Hejduk has a groin pull but will likely go in this huge game if he can. Especially since who knows with the CBA if Hejduk will get another run out before the World Cup.

Lineups: Use What Worked Last Week, Make All Substitutions Quick In The Second Half

What I would like to see in this game is what worked in the last game. The Crew were most dangerous in attack last week when Renteria and Lenhart were on the field together late in the game. I do not see Renteria playing up top with Lenhart with the inclusion of Guillermo, but Renteria played more on the right wing last week and that seemed to work out well. I just think anywhere where those two can link up will bode well in keeping the pressure off of the Crew and will bode well in their relationship and understanding as players, so I would not be too adverse to put Renteria on the wing and to sit Ekpo the first half.

Also, this Dispatch article today on Herrera makes me think he won't start on Wednesday and almost feels to me like a "he wasn't as good as we thought he was" admission. Maybe Herrera just isn't fit yet, but the rest of the Crew only had a few more days in camp then Herrera, so could it really be that?

However, I could see Herrera getting onto the field early in the second half if he has any fitness as a way to downplay any concerns that Crew fans have about their new big name signing going the way of Nico Hernandez. Also, if I was the Crew, I would introduce two other fresh bodies right away in the second half in Moffat and Ekpo.

First 45 minutes:
-------------------Hesmer--------------------
Hejduk------Brunner------O'Rourke---Padula
-------------------Carroll---------------------
Renteria-----------Gaven---------------Rogers
------------------Schelotto---------------------
-------------------Lenhart---------------------

Second 45 minutes:
-------------------Hesmer---------------------
Hejduk-----Brunner-------O'Rourke---Padula
--------------------Moffat---------------------
Ekpo---------------Gaven--------------Rogers
---------Lenhart------------Herrera----------

My reasons for these switches are purely altitude-related. I played defensive midfield for the first time in my life (just about the only position I never played before) in the Dutch Lion tryout on Friday and it has to be the most tiresome position on the field because your not dictating when to make runs and take a break, the attacking team dictates all of your movements and you're always moving.

At the 8,600 feet that Toluca is at, I cannot see Brian Carroll playing defensive midfield for a full 90 minutes. Moffat is a reliable replacement at that position. Also, if Schelotto is doing a lot of moving around in the first half, I think it may be hard to keep him on for a full 90 minutes (but he may be able to go 60 minutes if you let him play less defense). Ekpo comes on for Renteria early in the second half because Ekpo gives you some fresh young legs to start out the first minutes of that half.

And, the first 15 minutes of each half will be crucial for the Crew. The Crew need to push at the beginning of both halves with the freshest teams they can possibly have and try to get a goal at the beginning of one or both of those halves and then bunker a little more after that (ala Saprissa). And, even though putting all three of your new subs on at the 45th minute may put the Crew at risk of playing with 10 men if they have an injury, not putting them on then will put your team at a risk for completely running out of gas and the players at the most strenous positions at risk for injuries as well.

However, if not at the 45th minute mark (since halftime may recharge all the players batteries for a little while), all three switches must be made by the 60th minute mark to at least have some fresh legs on the field at all times for the Crew.

Toluca Latest Results and Injuries

The diablos lost at home on Sunday with most of their starters 3-2 against Cruz Azul:


The result drops Toluca to 2-6-2 overall over their Clasura campaign and the result, missed penalty and all, on Sunday probably does not have Toluca feeling the most confident at home and probably has affected the freshness of some of their starters. Certainly this is the case of Mancilla as he may not be able to go for Toluca against the Crew on Wednesday because of injury; as Toluca will be looking to play their starters to ensure their place in the Semi's. And, Toluca mise well, especially since they might want to start writing away other honors in their domestic league if they keep playing as they have been playing.

Prediction: Crew 2, Toluca 1- Lenhart 6th minute, Sinha 37th minute, Herrera or Lenhart again 57th minute. The Crew follow some sort of gameplan as I have outlined and pull out the shock result.

Also, I have to head back to Pennsylvania from Dayton Wednesday night so I'll likely stop into Claddagh's to watch (which if that is the case means no beer for me on St. Patty's Day since I'll have three hours left to drive after the game).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

3/13/2010: Crew Sign Jamaican Shaun Francis



One of the last players to be selected by the Crew in the 2010 draft, Shaun Francis, has secured a developmental contract with the Columbus Crew. The 6'0, 23 year old Francis will back up Gino Padula, will learn under Padula in the next two or three seasons, and likely take over when Padula evenutally retires. During his college career, Francis made 61 appearances with 7 goals and was Captain of Lindsey Wilson College his senior year. Francis also played in the Premier Development League for the Thunder Bay Chill in 2009 making 12 appearances with three goals.

3/13/2010: Massive Crew Video

A nice video here by Sam Fahmi, and some great background music from Columbus band Antaen:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

3/11/2010: Toluca Can Be Like Hell, You Know


Manga from Rick Thomas (Thoma), click here for more.

3/11/2010: Crewture CCTV- Columbus vs. Toluca March 9th

Here is some of the footage I shot at random during the game last night:


My buddy in this video is from Israel, I met him at a bar when I was watching soccer, he is a Beitar Jerusalem fan. A little proof that no matter what country (Aris in Greece, Fenerbache in Turkey, Borussia Dortmund in Germany, Beitar Jerusalem in Israel, or Columbus Crew in the USA) the best fans where yellow and black:


Now if we could just get the Ultra thing going maybe we could get up to that level.

3/10/2010: Do The Crew Now Hold The Mental Edge In This Series?


Will there be more dancing for Lenhart, Renteria, and the Crew at Nemesio Diez Riega (Picture by Sam Fahmi, via the Massive Report)?

After a great comeback at home from 2-nil down, done and dusted, the Crew fought back and gave themselves some life for the second half of the series down in Toluca. And, based on the comments of Los Diablos Coach De La Torre combined with Toluca's finding a way not to win (which have been their story as of late in the Mexican Primera as well) the Crew, and especially Lenhart, may now be in the heads of Toluca.

And Lenhart is definitely on the mind of De La Torre:
"He spent most of the game provoking our defenders," de la Torre said. "It's not his fault because the referee allowed it to happen."

That's what a good striker does, such is the Mexican style to complain about any aggressive play.

And more of De La Torre's tears, via Craig Merz:
"There were some questionable calls by the referee to allow a lot of aggression that benefitted them," de la Torre said. "Generally, I'm not one to make comments about the referee's performance but based on tonight referee's performance my players were at risk of injury."

Really? I'm pretty sure I saw just as many Crew players sprawled out as Toluca players at the Stadium last night, which likely means that there were more Crew players at risk for injury since Mexican players usually fake their injuries.

In comparison to De La Torre's tearful comments, I really liked Danny O'Rourke's statements on the game:
"They didn't expect us to come out and pressure them and play physical like that. By no means does anyone on our team play dirty but when guys are coming late in on our guys because they lost the ball or are angry I'm not going to have it," he said. "There's room for physical play but there's no need for coming in late and stepping on people's feet. We let it be known."

"They gave us a little respect. Typically Mexican teams don't have a lot of respect for the U.S. The national team has done well in recent years and that has given us some respect and hopefully MLS advancing in the Champions League will gain us more respect."


Hopefully that respect will be gained in Toluca with a full sided Columbus. Guillermo Barros Schelotto will be ready to go and Frankie Hejduk will be available. Maybe some of the other injuries in defense will heal as well. So, hopefully, Lenhart has another one of these games in him and Guillermo can continue with his form from the second leg against Real Salt Lake. If so, anything is possible. Especially if the aggressive nature of Lenhart and company are into the heads of the Not so Devilish Diablos.

3/10/2010: Hooray Attendance Smack Talk


Empty seats are the norm in Champions League, not just a Columbus problem.

From Major League Soccer Talk:
That’s what Major League Soccer’s focus needs to be. It needs to create new teams across the country in areas where MLS has no team and where there’s a large soccer fanbase. Otherwise those fans who have no MLS team near them have few reasons why they should watch MLS on TV but plenty more choices to watch games from other leagues and tournaments from around the world.

Take last night, for example. For most 9-5 employees who live on the East Coast of the United States, they would have come home Tuesday with a few choices of games to watch on television. They could have watched Columbus Crew against Toluca in the first leg quarter-final of the CONCACAF Champions League. Or, if they had taped the games, they could have watched Arsenal against Porto or Fiorentina versus Bayern Munich.

Those same decisions of which games to watch Tuesday night would have entered the minds of soccer fans in the Columbus area. Should I go to the game to see the Crew play, or should I stay home instead and watch games on television? The answer was loud and clear last night. The attendance at Crew Stadium was only 4,402 for a very important cup game. Where were the fans? Were they all watching Arsenal against Porto in the comfort of their living rooms?


My thoughts: Let's see I can think of many reasons for the attendance. It's a Tuesday night, it's a cup game that most of America (including Columbus is unaware of), the game is not part of a season ticket package deal, the team markets the game minimally, and for those with other commitments on a Tuesday the game is on TV.

It was fun trying to explain all of this to my Isreali friend I brought to the game with me, who does not have the greatest overall English skills. He is a Bietar Jerusalem fan and he was like where are these hooligans, hooligans where I come from usually have beards, crazy eyes, and have been to prison. I had to spend most of the night explaining differences between American soccer and Isreali soccer to him; one funny thing was that in Isreal, they would never have a stadium like CCS because fans would run on the field all the damn time. "Where are the fences?" he asked. But, even he sort of understood the attendance issue, as he said, "yeah, some Cup games do not get the best attendances all around the world."

But, some people who try to analyze MLS have a greater difficulty understanding and so they keep writing the same tardtastic articles (read as well in the MLS Talk article's comments section about how Kartik Krishnayer thinks Houston pushes the television needle more than Columbus, lol I don't think any MLS team pushes the tv needle more than any other MLS team except a Beckham LA). Anyway, your getting the same sort of crowd on a Tuesday night under the same conditions everywhere except Seattle and Toronto, and maybe a little more fans at Houston (then again they market more). So, I find it amusing that some writers cannot realize that we still live in America and instead expect 15,000-20,000 on a Tuesday night under those conditions.

I would love a crowd like that but under the current conditions it isn't going to happen. And, I would also like these same people to watch the Wednesday night game in Toluca next week. I bet they have a similiar crowd because under these sort of CONCACAF conditions not many fans show up. As very few Mexican teams have good attendances for any CONCACAF Champions League games until the semi-final or final.

The main problem is that the CONCACAF Champions League isn't as popular in the region as the European Champions League is in Europe, and it probably will never be. Also, for most fans (including Toluca's) the Saturday game against Cruz Azul or whoever is more important (or rather more interesting for them) than their Wednesday match up against a MLS team.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

3/10/2010: Good Second Half Gives Crew Lifeline. Lenhart & Renteria Combo For 90 Minutes Might Have Given Crew More.


If Lenhart Keeps Playing Like This, The Guy From Asuza Pacific Could Be Wearing The Stars & Stripes Someday. Unbelievable first goal. (Picture by G. Bartram/Getty)

Renteria and Lenhart combined for two goals in the final twenty-four minutes against Toluca. They looked electric, fiery/scary hot in the second half together. Which makes one wonder what the score would've been, if the Crew coaching staff wouldn't have thrown a right winger in as a striker for the first 70 minutes of this game. Call it the "Ohh vey!" Ekpo at Striker Experiment, as that was working out as well as a Knox Cameron-Sebastian Rozental pairing.*

*Not sure if that pairing ever happened, it's been a long car ride. But, if that pairing would have happened, that pairing would of sucked.

Overall, the Crew had some great chances in the first half, mostly from their midfield or rather mostly from Adam "The Scottist Bullet" Moffat (by the way, did anyone else feel like that first Moffat shot was going in as it was struck from the same place Moffat scored against TFC in the 08' opener?). Anyway, the Crew could not capitalize on these long distance chances, while the whole Lenhart (playing the target striker) with Emmanuel Ekpo (playing the withdrawn forward role of Guillermo Barros Schelotto) obviously was not working in the first half since Ekpo isn't Guillermo. Ekpo gave a good effort but that isn't his position and he isn't Schelotto. Ahhhh, dur. So why would we force that formation without Schelotto, when Warzycha prefers a two forwards, no withdrawn forwards, formation anyways? Your guess is as good as mine.

So, Ekpo looked lost at distributing and Lenhart looked like a blonde island in the first half. I have no clue what Warzycha saw in the Ekpo and Lenhart striker combo but something must have inspired that in training. Even though the pairing did not look right in the 5th minute, the 20th minute, or the 60th minute. So, thank god Warzycha finally decided to put an actual striker out there in the form of Renteria to combine with Lenhart in the second half.

And, man did the two together change the entire game dynamic, with Renteria assisting Lenhart twice and the Crew almost getting a late winner. And, this made me think where was this pairing the first 70 minutes? As I felt like I was in a depressed fog watching the game until Lenhart whoke me/jolted me the hell up in the 70th minute.

Really, I just don't get how you choose a right winger who has never played withdrawn forward in Ekpo over this new Colombian striker in Sergio Herrera who is supposed to be a godsend for us in attack (but did not even see the field tonight) or Emilio Renteria who is also a better striking option than someone in Ekpo who has never played striker... Or even Jason Garey.

Also, how well Renteria and Lenhart combined in the last twenty minutes, I think the game ends up 4-2 if there up top together for this game. I guess you cannot totally blame Warzycha though as the pairing did not come through for him in the away leg at RSL last year. And, how the hell is Warzycha supposed to know that the two would combine so well tonight in comparison?

Anyway, we go in Toluca (and their altitude) tied, and we will need a big time miracle to come away with a win there. But, at least the second half can give the Crew some confidence that they can hang with these guys and maybe Lenhart is the real deal this year and at least we tied. Hell, at half time it was looking like we were headed for a 3-0 or 4-0 loss. So, after the first half, I can deal with 2-2 tie, as at least it makes me want to watch and hope for next week.

Overall, not a bad effort at all for a preseason Crew.

Highlights:


More coming tomorrow as I'm tuckered out from the ride back to Pennsylvania, may make a video as well if the footage I took tonight was decent overall. Cheers and good night at 4 a.m. Go Crew!

3/9/2010: Toluca Confident But Will Not Overlook Undermanned Crew


Toluca Headman De La Torre Cautions Toluca Against Overconfidence (Pic via Chivas Pasion).

According to their comments in various Mexican papers, the Toluca players seem very confident going into the Tuesday night Quarterfinal showdown at Columbus. Especially since lady luck appears to be on the devil's side; as the Columbus 60 degree sun and the lack of a Guillermo Barros Schelotto or Frankie Hejduk to face off against has Los Diablos a lot more relaxed, away from home, than the Crew would have liked.

Toluca Argentinian midfielder (who likely knows all about the advantage that a Schelotto-less Crew brings) Martin Romagnoli on the weather, climate, and altitude:

"It was funny to come on the plane and see that everything was covered with snow, but the truth is the weather with the sun is quite nice, so this is good to train and be in good condition.

"Further, we are used to playing in different climates, with different altitude, so we are more accustomed to these conditions and hope to take in all the circumstances."


Despite the rosy weather change from last week and the Schelotto-less Crew, Los Diablos coach Jose De La Torre looks to keep Toluca grounded:

"It will be a really difficult game, it is best to get a result. There is no advantage to the fact that they will not have major players for this match, they have a full squad."

However, that full squad, that Crew Manager Rober Warzycha always talks up, will be put to their biggest test tonight.

All comments were translated from excelsior.mx

3/9/2010: Renteria On Tonight's Contest, Unlikely To Start?


If Emilio is to have another CONCACAF moment (such as above) tonight, he may have to wait until the second half if a Venezuelan Sports Mag has it right.

Emilio's comments to Venezuelan Sports Magazine Lider en deportes:

Venezuelan striker Emilio Renteria, after four months of inactivity, will return to the playing fields. "After a long preseason, it is time to play against a great team," said the striker, who will depart on the bench.

The U.S. side will face off in the club competition against a rival Aztec side who are candidates to win the tournament. "They are not very well at home, but are favorites to advance to the semifinal," said Renteria.

And the attacker is right. Toluca only has won two in nine games, but has much more games than Columbus, which is waiting for the start of the MLS. "The pace of games will help a lot. We have become friends and had a good preseason, but it is not the same," said Renteria.

Despite the advantage that is given in minutes, Renteria thinks forward. "A good result would be good to go to Mexico with," said Renteria, who made clear their objectives. "The aspiration of us is to win the trophy. We do not play just to compete, we want to be champions." Toluca is the first hurdle.


I'm assuming that "depart on the bench" (since it is unlikely to mean much of anything else) should be understood as Emilio Renteria will be starting on the bench tonight for Columbus, which likely means that either Lenhart, Garey, or possibly even Ekpo could be teamed up with Columbian Sergio Herrera up top tonight.

Still despite apparently not getting the starting nod, if I'm reading this correctly, I'm glad Renteria has the right attitude. Further, if Renteria (with his lack of English) understands that this is the team's goal, then it is likely the whole team's goal as well.

3/9/2010: Is Toluca The Time For Experimenting? Warzycha May Not Have A Choice


Crew right winger Emmanuel Ekpo and Crew central midfielder Adam Moffat might find themselves in unusual positions at tonight's 7:30 kickoff (Pics: ChicagoNow & Life.com respectively).

According to Shawn Mitchell in today's Columbus Dispatch, the Crew might do something crazy roster-wise tonight if the Crew's practice lineups on Sunday were to be taken serious. In that practice, Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha tried right winger Emmanuel Ekpo at striker and played central midfielder/defensive midfielder Adam Moffat at right back. More than likely, Coach Warzycha was trying some new things out to see if he could get a better mix on the field tonight with Hejduk, Zayner, Marshall, and Schelotto out.

Without the experiment of Moffat at right back, the backline would likely be O'Rourke----Brunner-----Iro------Padula.

I could see Moffat maybe pulling off the right back job though, which would switch the backline to probably, Moffat------O'Rourke------Brunner-------Padula.

That backline might work out better if Moffat can be serviceable at right back because Warzycha more than likely wants to have O'Rourke (and his experience on that backline) at one of the two center back positions.

The idea of Moffat at right back is sort of understandable. The idea of Emmanuel Ekpo at striker when you already have Renteria, Garey, and Lenhart to take up the role of second striker when Schelotto is not in there, is a bit more surprising.

There have been proponents before of Emmanuel Ekpo at striker because of his speed, how he takes on the defense, and his lack of defensive skills in his own half. And, maybe Emmanuel Ekpo's speed will surprise Toluca.. But, I'm not sure if this game is the best time to spring that experiment.

However, if Emmanuel is used at striker it would be Ekpo----------Herrera. So, maybe during this preseason Coach Warzycha has came to the conclusion that the other strikers logging minutes, such as Renteria, Garey, and Lenhart, are not enough of a consistent threat on the field and therefore Warzycha has to shake things up a bit.

If Warzycha does not go with the Ekpo experiment, I'm guessing he would go with Renteria-------------Herrera up top just because Renteria has combined the best with Herrera so far, as each had a part in all four goals against Chivas USA in Arizona. However, Garey and Lenhart have appeared to have more practice time as of late compared to Renteria, so maybe one of them steps in against Toluca.

Experiment or not, based on everything out there in front of us fans, here are the most probable lineups tonight in my opinion (in order of likelihood- the first one is most likely, the last one may work out but is extremely unlikely overall):

1.)
--------------Hesmer--------------
O'Rourke---Brunner--Iro-----Padula
-------------Carroll-----------------
Ekpo----------Gaven----------Rogers
-------Renteria-----Herrera--------

2.)
--------------Hesmer--------------
Moffat---O'Rourke--Brunner--Padula
--------------Carroll----------------
Ekpo-----------Gaven---------Rogers
-------Renteria------Herrera-------

3.)
--------------Hesmer--------------
Moffat---O'Rourke--Brunner--Padula
--------------Carroll----------------
Gaven----------Duka---------Rogers
-------Ekpo---------Herrera-------

Monday, March 8, 2010

3/9/2010: A Resolution To Celebrate Crew Soccer


Councilwoman Priscilla R. Tyson (right, left pic) looks to pass resolution to celebrate the Crew's 15th season. Pictured with Columbus Mayor Coleman who has also been a fan of the Crew over the years. Second, Right Pic: Mayor Coleman in front of the Nordecke for the Eastern Conference Match in 2008 against Chicago (Pic by Sam Fahmi).

Here is a resolution on the Columbus City agenda for 3/8/2010 sponsored by Recreation and Parks Committee Chair Priscilla R. Tyson, click here for PDF:

CELEBRATING THE COLUMBUS CREW: In 1996, Major League Soccer chose Columbus, Ohio as the home for the Columbus Crew, one of only 10 original teams. Last year, the Crew won the Supporters’ Shield for the best record in MLS. Recreation and Parks Committee Chair Priscilla R. Tyson is sponsoring resolution 0021X-2010 to honor and recognize the team on the beginning of their 15th season in Columbus. The Columbus Crew begin the 2010 regular season on March 27, 2010 at 4:00 p.m. against Toronto FC at Crew Stadium, the first major-league stadium built specifically for soccer in the United States.

Nice to half a city that backs the team.

3/9/2010: Crew's Grass Might Have Light Brown Patch Look For A While.

Apparently what you see here:


Is a grass disease called Typhula Blight caused by excessive ammounts of snow and is not usual in the Columbus area. Apparently, according to this video, the ground will stay this patchy color until the grass grows out:

3/8/2010: Massive Radio Toluca Podcast, Crew Movie Documentary, And More On Tomorrow


Emilio Renteria readies himself for Toluca (Picture by Sam Fahmi, more pics can be found at the Massive Report- a new website with a good collective of Crew fan writers and photographers).

**Here is a quick Massive Radio breakdown for tomorrow's Crew vs. Toluca game. I'm hoping to find someone good to do some podcasts with through the season, so feel free to email me at crewture@live.com if you have an interest.

Crew vs. Toluca podcast here:











** Two documentary film makers from New York sent me an email a few days back, Mark Kendall and a guy named Pepe. They'll be in town tomorrow taking a documentary look at a day in the life of soccer supporters. They picked the Crew supporters for this game, so if you see them around and they ask you some questions about the supporter lifestyle, I think it would be a good idea to help them out. From Mr. Kendall's website (appears to be down the last few days) it appears that they have done some pretty quality work. Could be some good free PR for the section, something even better than the Columbus Alive piece from a year back.

** I'll be taking my flip video tomorrow to do my own day in the life video for Crewture for the Crew vs. Toluca game. Whatever footage I get that is PG rated will be on Crewture Wednesday sometime.

** The Ultras group that me and some others planned went kaputt when some of the other guys got cold feet in the past few weeks.. So, that put a dent in my banner making ideas (which needed a posse to complete), I only made a two stick for this one. So, nothing elaborate coming my way as far as banners for this game. I hope to get back to it for the Toronto FC game, hopefully some people in the Nordecke could come together with a plan for that one.. The two stick project from last year took months, so I'm not sure how good this year's TFC display will be.

THIS TOOK MONTHS TO BRING TOGETHER:


WHAT DO WE HAVE PLANNED SO FAR FOR THIS YEAR'S TFC GAME? A WHOLE LOT OF NOTHING.

I was hoping an ultras group dedicated to banner making could change this. But, like I said, isn't going to happen.

** With my ultras group falling apart, plus the work I have been doing for a new internship with the Dayton Dutch Lions, this has also put a dent in the banners for this game. If you're from Dayton you might want to check out the beginning of my Dayton Dutch Lion supporter website, The Orange Legionnaire, and the supporter forum, The Orange Legionnaire Forum.

**Finally, let's start 2010 off with a win tomorrow. Go Crew, Columbus Til' I Die!

3/8/2010: Crew vs. Toluca Showdown Draws Near



A mouthwatering Crew vs. Toluca preview by CONCACAF. Many more from both sides of the border after the "El Cheepo."


No really that is what they call the Toluca Coach, "El Cheepo." (Pic via: Club Toluca)

Toluca Coach Jose De La Torre is happy that the weather is better than expected and is looking to put his best eleven on the field on Tuesday against Columbus, from miedto tempo:
"The opponent is a strong team and trained, like most competition in this tournament. Precautions must be taken, but we must target our business and exploit our conditions. The field is in good condition, a little rough, but acceptable for play."

De La Torre was clear to mention that it was gratifying to meet with a favorable climate, contrary to what was expected in previous days, because although there is snow, the surrounding temperature is quite bearable and the sun shines in all its glory.


Picture from Crew front office:


De La Torre:
"It's not part of what we planned, which was snow, but the weather is very comfortable and the group spirit lives on and is enjoying our surroundings."

Toluca coach stressed the importance of the encounter, but it was clear to mention that the degree of difficulty and desire to win is the same for any matches for Deportivo Toluca, as the biggest game ever will be the next one.

"Every game is important and of great demand because it is not an instance or another no longer of which is the most important game, there are circumstances that we have taken into account and always according to the last game we try to have the best eleven in the field .


While the Toluca side is gleeful to be sunning themselves in the 60 degree temperatures expected Tuesday at CCS, the Crew side is bummed to see there last good advantage go to the way side. Discussed more here by Craig Merz.

Further, Crew headman Robert Warzycha does not seem too confident on the task ahead that the Crew face, from the aforementioned Merz article, especially in regard to Toluca's mid-season form:
"That's something that's very difficult to counter," coach Robert Warzycha said. "The best we can do is to be very organized and get the ball off our feet quick and make them chase. They have a preseason behind them plus nine league games so whatever they have to do to fix things they've had the time. We're at a pretty good level but come on, you can't be at the same level they are. Hopefully the home stadium will help.

Brunner is a wee bit more confident despite the injuries, "It's nothing new," defender Eric Brunner said. "We dealt with it last year. We had a lot of injuries, suspensions and national team call-ups. We had guys step up."

Also the Crew might have a distinct advantage if the Toluca side knows as much about the Crew as the Mexican Press...

CHECK OUT THIS WHOOPS:
from diario de yucatan.

While the American table presents this series with many doubts, because due to the timing of the MLS preseason in full view to the next campaign begins next month.

This situation undoubtedly is against the team coached by Brian Bliss, who must try to resolve it somehow, since it is imperative they get home advantage.



ANOTHER (MORE PLAUSIBLE) ADVANTAGE FOR THE CREW?:

Toluca has been in poor form over there 2010 Clasura Season with only 2 wins out of there 9 games so far, for a 2-5-2 record. Toluca has been especially dreadful away with only two ties and three loses. However, Cruz Azul was coming off a Red Bull-esque season in the 2009 Clasura but still pounded Columbus twice both home and away, so we'll see if it really makes a difference. Nevertheless, it is good to know that Toluca is not coming into this game red hot.

Here are all there Clasura statistics from ESPN Soccernet:




Who Is Toluca's Targetman? Well, Only One of World Cup side Chile's Strikers:

So far during this Clasura campaign the player on the hottest run for Toluca scoring-wise is Hector Raul Mancilla, who has netted 4 goals in 8 appearances for the sausages (yeah apparently according to a Mexican guy I know who is doing a documentary tomorrow of Crew fans, that is usually what Toluca is made fun of for, I guess a sausage dish is popular there and most other Mexican fans call them the sausages).

Anyways, a depleted backline for the Crew will have to deal with Mancilla and company to come out with a positive result. The sausages are only missing defender Edgar Doudas while Toluca's strike force will come in pretty intact.

Here's a couple days out on the pitch for Mancilla, who has 44 goals in 66 appearances for Toluca since 2008. Brunner and Iro are going to have fun with this guy (or not):

Saturday, March 6, 2010

3/7/2010: Crew VS. Toluca Preview


Is it Crewsgiving before Crewsmas against TFC on March 27th or is it the Ides of Crew on March 9th? Whatever the damn Crewish holiday, it's time for some Crew soccer and it is time to bring the noise and the funk. (Pictures by bigsoccer Crew member Scornflakes.)


Well, we wish for snow (cause you know how those Mexicans hate snow) and we don't get it. The temperature for Tuesday is now forecasted to be a balmy 57 degrees as a high with a low of 47, which means a kickoff in the 50's so we might as well get our shorts out for this one. Damn. Then after that all we wish for is a healthy Columbus Crew and our backline has been hitting a injured/yellow card accumulation streak as Crew players are going down like flies to an electric lantern in summer time. Out for the Crew for Tuesday is Zayner, Hejduk, and Marshall (along with the magical Schelotto) which means we'll probably trout out something like the following on Tuesday-

Crew's Starting Lineup For Tuesday (Crewsgiving):
------------------Hesmer---------------
O'Rourke------Brunner----Iro-----Padula
-----------------Carroll---------------
Ekpo--------------Gaven-----------Rogers
--------Herrera----------Renteria-------

In this game the Crew will have to rely on some solid defense from some guys who haven't always been trustworthy for their defense as of late; as last season the rookie Eric Brunner had a tough run at the end of the season, Iro did not get much playing time all season, and O'Rourke rarely ever played as a right back. So, it is a big task to ask them to keep the ball out of the net against such a respected side as Toluca.

The midfield is shaping up much better for the Crew as all big time names in the midfield are back for this one except Schelotto (who will have to miss this big game due to CONCACAF's goofy rule 6.29- go to the massive report type in "6.29" in search for more on that). However, even without Schelotto a starting lineup featuring Carroll, Ekpo, Gaven, and Rogers (possibly Moffat in there as the central midfielder) have a big role to control the midfield. Because if the Crew can control the midfield they may find themselves leaving CCS with a positive result.

Finally, the strike force for the Crew is the only corps on the team left intact as the Crew can pick from Herrera, Renteria, Garey, Lenhart, Dike, and etc. as the starters for this match up. Based on how well Renteria and Herrera linked up against Chivas USA for 3 out of the 4 goals in a 4-1 preseason route, I'm expecting those two to start. If it is Renteria or someone else teaming up with Herrera, Herrera will no doubt get the start and the first chance to prove himself (and endear himself) to the Nordecke faithful. I'm very interested to see what Herrera can bring to the club.

What the Crew need to get out of this contest?

Despite not the best lineup out there for the Crew, they have to play there balls off and get a result in this one. As the Crew need some sort of win to put the pressure on Toluca. The Crew could really use a big win in this one, as we have seen MLS teams squander one, two, or even three goal leads in Mexico after jumping out to a comfortable lead at home.

Sing Your Own Anthem

Since the Champions League for CONCACAF plays there own anthem akin to the European Champions League, the Nordecke will have to substitute that with the "Stars & Stripes." The Nordecke sings that like Carrie Underwood belts out a tune, so we should be set on that ish.

Prediction

Despite being in preseason form compared to Toluca in midseason form. Also, despite missing some of our best players compared to Toluca... I still think the Crew want this one bad. I also have noticed that this Toluca isn't as good as the Toluca of a couple of years back, they have been struggling in the Mexican top division. However, Cruz Azul were struggling as well when they played Columbus (having a Red Bull-esque season at the time) but still demolished us. But, I for some odd reason have a good feeling about this one. I think the players out there can get the job done if they can win the midfield battle. They have a big task on their hands, but they have to use that home field advantage and try to get it done. What the Crew need to do is find a way to win, a way to give themselves a chance to battle it out (with their complete lineup) in Toluca. If they can do that, the Nordecke should be kissing whatever lineup we trot out's feet after 90 minutes on Tuesday.

Score- Columbus 3, Toluca 1
Herrera, Ekpo, Renteria

**Listen to Massive Radio, coming to you with an even more in depth preview tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

3/2/2010: The Stadium That Changed American Soccer, Voted #1 As Most Influential Stadia In Last 10 Years

Crew Stadium beat out everything from Wembley Stadium to the New Cowboys Stadium, According to Stadia Magazine:




For the full Stadia magazine article, click here.

**By the way after the Netherlands vs. USA game on Wednesday, I'll have up a full preview of the Crew vs. Toluca. I'll also have a Massive Radio up as my schedule free's up starting Wednesday as that is my Spring Break week.

**I also was contacted recently about an interesting project for the opening day TFC game that I might be able to share more details on later in the week. So, keep an eye out for that.

3/2/2010: Crew Owner Clark Hunt Most Eligible Owner For English Clubs?



I'm just assuming that every English club in adminstration or financial trouble looks overseas for a big time American owner to bail them out. They say to themselves, "lets make up a rumor, maybe Mr. Hunt will look in the paper, and say yeah what the heck I'll buy that club." As, Clark Hunt, who already owns a massive club and winner in Columbus must look like a great suitor for English league success.

This is the second club in six months that Mr. Hunt was reportedly buying. Six months ago he was reportedly buying West Ham, although Clark Hunt denied that. Now Hunt is apparently trying his luck in the Championship with Crystal Palace (you sure it was not Crystal Palace Baltimore?). However, Mr. Hunt has denied this buy out as well.

Isn't it weird though that two clubs would report Mr. Hunt's interest in buying them over the last six months? Have to figure that Mr. Hunt is at least snooping around in that market.

Monday, March 1, 2010

3/2/2010: Uncertain, Merky, Let's Play Toluca And Eat Some Beef Jerky


A full scale humourous comic of the Roster Compliance Day stituation can be viewed here via Crew fan Rick Thomas's manga cartoons.

Yeah I'm tired after writing page 20 of my sport facility risk analysis.. Hence, the awesome title and why this blog has been a little inactiver than usual. Anyways, there is some semi-fascinating/semi-enough already hullabolu going on around in MLS and elsewhere that I would like to share with you.. So in case you missed it, here ya go.

**I haven't ever liked much coming out of Toronto (suprise, surprise), but I think that there is an interesting take here on the whole CBA thing in this video with thoughts by the Toronto Sun's Steven "Style Guru" Sandor, click here.

Since I can't embed I added a picture of Mr. Sandor in a flashy sweatshirt so you knew which video to click on. Think it's worth a view as overall this was a pretty good three minute, power summary of the CBA situation(by the way, you should click on the link if your from Toronto). Anyways, I hope Mr. Sandor is right about the players having not a lot of leverage for in this economy, because frankly all I care about is if there is a season. Get something done please so I don't have to read anything else on the CBA.

By the way, what is the refund policy if there is a work stoppage?

**Apparently there will be a Toluca game, I think or guess so, well the Crew are still preparing for one. However, it will come as a surprise that Crew main man Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Frankie Hejduk will miss the first game at Crew Stadium because of yellow cards accumulation in the previous round. This is according to Shawn Mitchell, as well as something I saw posted on the Crew Union facebook earlier today.

Not a massive loss in my opinion in regard to Hejduk because Zayner does an above average job replacing Hejduk when he is out these days. But, GBS will be some shoes to fill against such a tough opponent as Toluca. With no Schelotto, I expect the Crew to either go with the two forwards type thing with either Herrera/Renteria or Herrera/Lenhart. Or possibly even give Duka a run out, as I'm assuming he will be groomed as the next Schelotto... But, I think the two forwards type deal is more likely since the Crew are unlikely to want to throw Duka (a recently injured Duka at that) out there as a rookie against a tough opponent such as Toluca right away. Duka, although helluva talented, might have to earn his stripes a little more before he is 100% percent counted on by Bobby.

Hejduk's take on it:
"I specifically remember being told last year that those yellows didn't carry over, but that was not correct, obviously."

Obvi, bro.

**Although I may be working for the Dayton Dutch Lions in a few weeks as an intern (starting around March 11-13).. By the way, I'll also have a fan website up for them around the 10th (like this, different format), when I get a few days of free time, so look for that.. Even though I may be working with them... I'm still looking forward to some bragging rights when Landon Donovan and company tear the Dutch a new one in Amsterdam on Wednesday.

The USA vs. Netherlands game can be viewed live on ESPN2 between 2:30-5:00 on Wednesday, set your DVRS.



Also, the Dutch Lions announced their new head coach today. Ajax former defensive mainstay with over 200 caps for the club in it's 90's glory years, as well as 25 Dutch Caps, Sonny Silooy. Click here for more info.

Here is the Dutch players on the team flanked by owners Erik Tammer and Mike Mossel:


Here is Head Coach Sonny Silooy


Sort of interesting to pick a defensive player to show the Dutch attacking style of soccer. But, Mr. Silooy has quite the resume at Ajax and is a coach that the players definitely can look up to.

Anyways, one team that could possibly benefit from a MLS work stoppage is the Dutch Lions.

**Happy roster compliance day has also been postponed due to the CBA situation. Deadline is in a few weeks, that will also likely be postponed for another deadline that will last a few more weeks after. More info here with Shawn Mitchell.

**Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer being a bad ass per Mitchell as well:
"I understand taking heat right now is part of my job. I am willing to put my neck on the line for what I believe is the best for the collective group of players and the league."

**I'm guessing based on the two goals Herrera had and the one goal and one assist that Renteria had in the 4-1 route of Chivas USA in the scrimmage this past Sunday. That both at the moment are most likely to play up top together in replacement of Schelotto.

**In closing, I have made one banner for Toluca next week. I'm debating whether to make a second or third.. I would like some definitive yes were having a game before I buy more paint. Anyways, hopefully I'll see everybody next week. At least give us one game, it has been a long offseason.

Go Crew. And, I'll be more up to date on this blog after this Wednesday. Education comes first.