That Crew Religion

The Crew brings together a diverse group of people who celebrate and support, you might even say worship together.

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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.

Monday, January 24, 2011

1/24/2011: Crew Re-Ups With Leandre Griffit At Lesser Rate



According to The Columbus Dispatch, 26-year-old winger Leandre Griffit, a former player of Southamption and Crystal Palace, has recently re-signed with the Crew for the 2011 season.

The winger who showed great promise and ability in his limited minutes in 2010 (only played in 8 games, 2 regular season contests), was cut at the end of the 2010 season with Schelotto and Hejduk; as the Crew did not want to exercise Griffit's option leading to a more expensive contract.

Griffit was paid the league minimum of just over $40,000 in 2010 and apparently the Crew are giving Leandre a similiar contract for the 2011 season.

Having Griffit back is a favorable option for Crew fans who believed that Griffit didn't get a fair enough shake in 2010 and warranted more starting time; as the French midfielder scored in his first three minutes in a regular season match against the Houston Dynamo in July and looked very dangerous in almost every game that he played in ever since.

Warzycha on Griffit~

"We obviously see the value in him because we're bringing him back. But it's up to him whether he's going to be on the field. It's about him progressing, and he did that as the season went on last year."

Griffit may also get a chance at a central midfield role, along with Gaven or Rogers who are usually out the wings, as the Crew are going to need one of their wingers to transition well into more of a Schelotto role.

1/24/2011: Jeff Cunningham Doesn't Find Fit At IK Start, Randers; Signs With Crew.



Jeff Cunningham's trials in Scandanavia with Randers F.C. and IK Start were apparently unsuccessful at landing Cunningham a long-term contract at either club. After trying his luck at signing a better contract at both clubs, Cunningham has elected to go back to America and sign for his first club- the Columbus Crew, according to IK Start's team website.


Signs for U.S. club
Jeff Cunningham has left Start and the town of Kristiansand.
Attacking player Jeff Cunningham has gone home to the U.S. to sign a two year contract with the Columbus Crew.

"It has been a pleasant acquaintance. He was also satisfied with his stay in Kristiansand, but not enough has been shown at his best, "said Rune Jakobsen of IK Start.

Cunningham has decided to sign a contract with the American club. He used some of his vacation days to train with Start.

"A pleasant city. Glad to see something other than what I'm accustomed to," said Cunningham, to ikstart a few days ago.

He spent plenty of time as a tourist as well in Kristiansand. When Knut Tørum recently offered the American shuttle to the city, Cunningham thanked him politely and said no because he wanted to have a look around for a while.

An imminent signing of Cunningham could be the answer to the question everyone has been asking, who is going to lead this young, Crew team on the field? Cunningham's 62 goals in 182 Crew appearances from 1998-2004 are some stats that all the Crew players can look up to, especially the strikers.

Further, with 132 career MLS goals, it won't take much for Cunningham to top Jaime Moreno's mark of 133 goals on the MLS career goalscorers list in this 2011 season; As Moreno retired at the end of 2010 season with D.C. United.

If it's true that Cunningham is coming home to agree to the Crew's discounted terms, I like the discount move as Cunningham is the right sort of veteran for this team.

Cunningham would definitely have a role to play; as he has had a better strike rate over the last few years compared to any Crew striker.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

1/19/2011: Manchester City's Michael Johnson Speculated As Crew Target; Don't Think So.



Crew Manager Robert Warzycha and Technical Director Brian Bliss are currently in England searching for their midfield backbone, reportedly working on a deal for a EPL backup midfielder. Yet no one, surprisingly not even The Sun or another English rag has found out yet who the Crew are exactly looking for. However, some today have said it is likely Manchester City's injury-riddled Michael Johnson.

Although a player of Michael Johnson's caliber (37 caps, 2 goals for Manchester City) would be a more attractive option in our midfield than a speculated Maloury Martin (0 caps, 0 goals at Blackpool) or another player at a similiar level; I find it unlikely that Johnson is a Crew target on loan despite what MLS-Rumors or others have speculated.

The 22 year old, coming off of 13 months away from Manchester City with knee problems, played a reserve game last week and had this to say to Manchester City News:

"Without saying too much, it's better for me to go and get games now. Ideally, that would mean going out somewhere for the rest of the season. If I'm going to get match-fit that would be the better option for me."



Now it's unlikely that Manchester City would see a loan move to the Columbus Crew as beneficial for a player such as Michael Johnson. They're likely to want to keep him close, in the English leagues. In fact, both EPL club Wolverhampton Wolves and Championship side Leeds United have said they are lining up loan offers for Johnson. The Crew cannot likely compete with those clubs.

Further, Bliss stated that "the player has six months left on his contract and the EPL club might do him a favor and let him go early." Doesn't sound like a loan move to me.

File this under unlikely, I still think it will be a Maloury Martin. Someone who was a project for an EPL side, but the EPL side has decided that the project is unlikely to pay dividends. Only sort of player from the EPL that the Crew can likely afford.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

1/15/2011: Crew Shirt Sponsor-less in 2011, Should Reach Out & Donate Space To Charity

As has been known for about a week, two year shirt sponsor Glidden (at a million a year) decided not to re-up for the 2011 season.

Columbus Crew general manager Mark McCullers said:
"Their industry has been really affected by this economy and they're not going to be on our jersey this year," Crew president and general manger Mark McCullers said.

In response, Crew fans have been making some amusing shirt sponsors, such as:


But, an idea I really like, is for the Crew to go the way of Barcelona with UNICEF, and donate their jersey space to a charity.. Something such as Habitat for Humanity, as was said on this forum:



Donating the space to charity would be more unique and interesting (as well as you know MASSIVELY good), and marketable; instead of the alternative of "no one will pay us $1 million so we will just keep our jersey blank, boo-hoo." Good idea in my opinion.

1/15/2011: Crew After English Premier League Midfielder. Who Would Fit The Bill


Crew after a young midfielder in the EPL. Someone like Blackpool's Malaury Martin would make sense.

From Craig Merz on TheCrew.com:

Technical director Brian Bliss told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday that he and head coach Robert Warzycha will be in England next week to “take a look at this kid in the central part of the midfield. If he does something close to what the video shows us, this might be our guy to fill that spot.”

Bliss said the player is on a Premier League roster but could join the Crew soon if a deal is struck.

“My understanding was there’s an indication the club will let him go,” he said. “He has six months remaining on his deal but they would do the guy a favor.”



The key words are kid and take a look- which means this player is young and not totally proven. He's on a Premier League roster with six months remaining on his deal, but he must be unhappy and not playing, if the club would, in the words of Bliss, "let him go."

My best bet is someone like the following, it's got to be with someone on a cheaper team:
Malaury Martin- Plays for Blackpool, 22 year old, center midfield, 20 french caps, 20 caps in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2. But, hasn't played at all for Blackpool this season. Under a one year contract with Blackpool.

And guess what, he also was a trialist with MLS's Chicago Fire.

Some Crew fans are setting their sights a little higher, like Kagisho Dikgacoi. But, I don't see it, they're taking a look at a kid. It's definitely going to be a younger face that probably lucked his way onto an EPL roster before his time.

1/15/2011: Crew Offered Schelotto $40 K Scout Job, Guille Unsurprisingly Goes To Gimnasia


Schelotto back with his first Argentinean club, Gimnasia, shocked by Crew offer.

As everyone has probably heard by now, from Shawn Mitchell's article "Schelotto still looking for work following Crew exit," the Crew recently made an embarrassing staff offer to Crew legend Guillermo Barros Schelotto:

Schelotto said the Crew offered him a salary close to the player minimum of
$40,000 to remain as a scout, adviser and coach, but made it clear that there
was no place for him on the roster, at any price.

"In the first moment I was surprised," said Schelotto, who was granted a green card last year and still intends to make his permanent home in the U.S. "But now I am just upset that I cannot be in Columbus, in the city, anymore."


48 assists and 35 goals in 110 games and you're offered $40,000 dollars to join the staff. Really? Quite a way to treat someone who had a part in 83 goals over the past three seasons for your club. Who had a huge part in turning a club who's goal was just to make a playoff, into a champion; A club where just making the playoffs is now a dismal season. A season that demands rebuilding.



So, considering the Guillermo wave and chant (above), and his iconic status to Crew fans; It would've made more sense for the Crew to not make an offer to Schelotto at all. To let Schelotto part ways amicably, as possible, than making a bad offer that there's no way Schelotto would accept. An offer that says "once you meant the world to us, now were going to pay you the same as a 4th rounder in the MLS draft."

As it's not like Schelotto doesn't have 40,000 other options. Schelotto could coach Boca Juniors whenever he wants to, he could coach almost anywhere in the world at some capacity. Schelotto's options are endless. But, his main ones recently were to play for Gimnasia, Coach Boca Juniors, or be a scout with the Columbus Crew at $40,000. Hmm.. That's like offering a CEO a job at a kinko's checkout. It's obvious that Schelotto was never taking that offer. So, if you can't make a correct offer, don't make one at all.

The Crew should have just said he isn't in their plans and left it at that. Cut ties. It's like the Crew made the lowest offer they could knowing Schelotto would never accept. In my opinion, that's a real disappointing way to end a relationship with Schelotto.

So, recently with no future left at Columbus, Schelotto decided to continue his playing career with his first Argentinean club Gimnasia for the rest of this season, Schelotto signed a six-month contract the other day.

After those six months with Gimnasia are up, the future remains to be seen for the Crew legend. Schelotto said he wanted to stay in Columbus, OH to raise his kids here and that he loved his neighborhood in New Albany, OH. But, once Schelotto retires from the field and settles into coaching his options are endless. He could coach in MLS or elsewhere, but I doubt he coaches with the Crew (under current management) after this most recent slight.


"I am not angry," Schelotto said. "But I don't agree with (Warzycha). I don't argue with him about (me) being slow. You have to have the ball be fast, but you have to have the brain be fast, too.

"But this is soccer, and he can think different than me. I don't argue with all the decisions he has made. He chose another way than me."

If I was Schelotto, I would also think about coaching in Europe (Schelotto is catching on with English- he could coach in England or Holland, and Spanish- could coach in Spain). I'm sure if Schelotto put his CV out there he could get $250,000 at a lot exciting jobs and work his way up. And I'm sure there are a few continential European teams that would even give him a crack at Head Coach, lots in Argentina (and South America) but also I could see a mid-table Belgian club, or a mid-table Netherlands club, or a Greek club giving him a head coach chance.

I just don't get why the Crew would give Schelotto a lower end scouting job. The Crew could've at least made Schelotto a head assistant coach. Schelotto is a lot better known than our other Argentine assistant Ricardo Iribareen, same with any of the assistants. None of them have anywhere near the resume as Schelotto, including possibly Warzycha, and that may be the problem. It's either Warzycha's team or Schelotto's, and Warzycha wants to make it his team in 2011. Through and through.

This isn't totally a bad concept, since two leaders pull a team in two directions. But, if the case, lets just be real about it instead of saying, "hey we made Schelotto a decent offer." Because in actuality, the Crew didn't; and in doing so they didn't embarass Schelotto (or put him down a peg) with such an offer, they embarrassed the organization.


Schelotto reacquiants himself with the Argentine paparazzi.

1/15/2011: Crew Draft Picks Breakdown



Richard Balchan
From: Indiana University
Stats: 76 starts in college career at prestigous Indiana University, 80 matches in total. Two time All-Big Ten, All-Big Ten First Team this past season.

In Balchan's Words:

"I watched Danny (O'Rourke) when he was at Indiana and I would say I have some of the same qualities. We're always going to have the drive to defend at Indiana. We're always going to bring that attitude to the game."

Weigh ins-

Rich Balchan has all the tools to step on the field right away, filling a need at right back. -Jason Saghini, MLSSoccer.com

Positions: Played mostly central defense and defensive midfield for Hoosiers. Can play defensive midfield, center back, and right back.

Crewture's Prespective:
Balchan started his whole career at a hard place to do so in Indiana University, he has been compared to Danny O'Rourke, and he is versatile; Those are three major pluses.

Further, Balchan started 15 games his freshman year, this shows he may be better than most at making the step to the next level.

I also like that the Crew in Balchan and Miranda (also known for being able to play anywhere on a backline) are bringing in versatile defenders. This gives the Crew a lot of options in defense, if say someone's not pulling their weight or if there's an injury or two to the backline. Going to come in handy with O'Rourke out in the beginning.

Further, if Balchan morphs into another Danny O'Rourke, Crew fans will have no problems with that; as I would take a backline of four Danny O'Rourke's over our current defense.

Issues:

**A few wondered about the pick with Corey Hertzog still on the board, the man with the most points (20 goals, 6 assists in 22 games) this past NCAA season. But, I don't know if Hertzog's game translates to MLS. Most Big-Ten defenders, minus a few, are PDL or USL-2 level. Hertzog's only major attribute is finishing, MLS defenders will probably be able to keep him out of the right place, at the right time when Big-Ten defenders could not.

Plus, at pick 12 I think you're going to get a defender that works out in Balchan before you're going to get a forward that produces major results.

Videos:


And one I shot myself working for the Dayton Dutch Lions, as Balchan (3:14) actually scored against us in this game:


Grade: B+. If Balchan can step in and play well from day one, if he becomes like O'Rourke... Then Becomes an A+. Like that Balchan is versatile, like Miranda supposedly; as the Crew are going to need to try out a few combinations in defense before finding a winning one this season.



Justin Meram
From:
Michigan University
Stats: 12 goals in his last 9 collegiate games with Michigan, 17 goals and 8 assists on 2010 season. Also place-kicked for Michigan's football team, can kick a football 55 yards. 40 starts in his two seasons at Michigan.

In Justin's words:

This is a dream come true," Meram told MGoBlue.com. "I have been looking forward to this day for a very long time, and I want to thank my team back at Michigan because I love them and without them none of this would have been possible for me."
Positions: Forward, left or right side can use both feet well.

Crewture's Perspective: Meram in my opinion is a straight up baller. Few in college can do the assist he had at Valpo or just destroy Penn State like he did in the Big Ten tournament (videos below).

I liked Lenhart, but I'm totally behind the move with seeing what this Meram kid has. Meram might just end up being the most popular Wolverine in Columbus, Ohio. As Warzycha said here:

"If Meram wasn't available, we wouldn't have done it," Crew coach Robert Warzycha said. "But we liked his determination. He can shoot and he's a good finisher. He's very active in front of the net which is something we definitely needed."

Videos:







Grade: A+ plus, no doubt in my mind that this kid can lend something to the Crew. Not next year, but right away. Like his speed, his control. Great pick.



Cole Grossman
From: Duke University
Stats: Played in 70 plus games for Duke, 8 goals and 10 assists in 2009 and 10 goals and 8 assists in 2010. All ACC-First Team in 2010.

Take on Grossman:
Cole Grossman is a mature player who is not far away from contributing and could help ease the loss of Brian Carroll. -MLSSoccer.com's Sanghini

Crewture's Perspective: Another four year starter similiar to Balchan who should be able to handle the step up. Good at linking up the defense to the attack, good passer, and good ball skills.
Grade: B-, not much out there video-wise on Grossman. I guess we will have to wait and see. The Crew will be hoping he can be Carroll (version 2008) if so, A++.


Bernardo Anor leaping over none other than Robert Warzycha's son, Konrad Warzycha, this past season.

Bernardo Anor
From: University of South Florida
Stats: Scored around 6 to 8 goals a season for USF, ended his career with 21 goals. U-20 Venezuelan international.

Crewture's Perspective: U-20 international that late in the draft can never be a bad thing. Adds depth on the wings.



Grade: B+, someone involved in a U-15 to U-20 probably has some good skill. Gives Renteria someone from his country as a teammate.. Only thing was Joao Plata went 49, right after Anor, and I was kind of intrigued by Plata.

Overall Draft Grade: B+, overall much better than last year. Crew only got value out of Duka in 2009, could possibly get value out of three of these players this year. If lucky, all four.

Monday, January 10, 2011

1/10/2011: Draft- Crew Expected To Draft Akron's Nanchoff In The 1st Round, Warzycha's Son Solid Later Selection



Michael Nanchoff, 15 goals and 22 assists in his career at Akron University, has been picked in the mock MLS drafts of websites, such as Soccer By Ives and many other guessers, as the most likely pick for the Crew at the first round- twelfth spot.

However, guessing what is going to happen before a MLS Draft occurs, is like Charlie Sheen on Wall Street, judging stocks, without Gordon Geecko's cheating hand their for assistance. Overall, judging the MLS Draft is about as easy as judging stocks. No one can usually guess one pick in a row, let alone two in a MLS Draft. Likewise, Charlie Sheen couldn't discover a good stock, if good stocks were an ocean and he was on a boat surrounded by them in that movie.

And, a Mock Draft (like the financial projections) is usually crummy at picking out how everything will line up. A Mock Draft might be right on the first pick or here or there, but after that it's usually wrong... Unless Ives or other Mock Drafters are following coaches around and screening their phone calls. :-)

One doesn't have to go far in the history books to see the unpredictability of the whole MLS Draft, take for example the Crew's 2010 draft. Everyone nailed Dilly Duka as the Crew's pick at no. 8, but then everyone predicted the Crew were going to go with Akron's Blair Gavin at no. 12; It was a sure thing.

But, the Crew went the less-expected route and picked some fellow named Bright Dike (right up there in footie names with Frank Awanka, Roberto López Ufarte, Dean Windass, Harry Daft, and Johnny Moustache). Then the Crew didn't listen to their inner soccer shakra on Dike and cut him, just to find out 10 goals in 23 games later (for the Portland Timbers) that they may have been right in the first place with Dike.

So, anyways, I'm hoping the Crew save us that yo-yoing and any surprises this draft year. And, instead, listen to Ives and draft Nanchoff because I think he would be a solid player. Nanchoff has the ability to start games as a rookie, which could help our depth; as well as our ability to trade one of our midfielders for our other needs.

Nanchoff, is Schelotto-like as a dimunitive player, that gets up and down the wing well and has a strong, accurate cross. Nanchoff's accurate cross is seen twice in the below video, first in a goal scoring opportunity not converted and then in a game winning assist against Michigan in the NCAA Semifinal. Nanchoff also scored the game winner against Indiana University in the NCAA Playoff's Round of 16 this year:


Nanchoff at #12 in Ives Mock Draft, is expected to be the 6th Akron player picked in the draft at that point! Defender Perry Kitchen (1st pick), Forward Darlington Nagbe (2nd pick), Defender Kofi Sarkodie (4th pick), Defender Zarek Valentin (5th pick), Midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong (10th pick) are all expected to go first. So, twelve picks in, six of the picks will be from Akron and the other six will represent the other 120 or so NCAA Division-1 programs.

It's fully deserved by Akron University. I seen Akron firsthand twice this season (being less than an hour and a half away from me, compared to the Crew at the moment who are 3 and a 1/2 from me). I saw them beat Michigan 7-1 on October 19th, where you got a real range of their talent and all of these weapons (video below). Wasn't a shabby game to choose- Kofie Sarkodie and Darlington Nagbe looked like real monsters in that game. And I also went to the 3-2 NCAA Tournament Second Round win against West Virginia on November 21st. I also caught about six games on Sportstime Ohio throughout the season.

From those games I can say I admire Nanchoff's workrate and there is no reason coming from the team that he came from, that Nanchoff couldn't pick up where he left off with the Crew. Nanchoff is probably a better crosser of the ball than Gaven or Rogers, not what neither is truly known for, and could find himself on the left wing with Gaven slotting central.


Nanchoff also has a great family pedigree when it comes to footie. His dad George Nanchoff played 70 games in the old NASL at the height of his career and was capped 10 times for the U.S. National team including a goal. Nanchoff Sr. and his brother Georgie both played at Akron University and both were capped by the U.S. National team at the same time in the 70's. Nanchoff Sr. currently is a co-owner and head coach for the PDL Cleveland Internationals. I also have been at the Internationals home field when I worked with the Dutch Lions in a 2-2 tie in June, Akron's Darlington Nagbe was on the roster but did not play in that game.

Michael Nanchoff's brother and sister also play Division-1 college soccer at Dayton and Duquesne respectively.


George Nanchoff, after his NASL days, with the indoor Phoenix Inferno where Nanchoff scored 42 goals in 37 games.

With adding Nanchoff the Crew would have a formidable and young midfield to choose from, with possible selection problems that any manager would love to have. As the Crew would have Robbie Rogers, Eddie Gaven, Emmanuel Ekpo, Dilly Duka, and Michael Nanchoff to choose from (and quite possibly Leandre Griffit who I think can make an impact over a full season).

Heck, they mise well add Robert Warzycha's son, Konrad Warzycha, to the mix. Not expected to go in the first two rounds by Ives, Konrad would make sense as a third round pick for the Crew (with 8 goals this season and a Big Ten First Team honor in 2010). From what I have seen and saw Konrad seems like a good player with a good head on him. VIDEO BELOW OF KONRAD AT MLS COMBINE:

Introducing Konrad Warzycha from mlsinsider on Vimeo.



In fact, if I was the Crew I would just sign midfielders because that's the only position usually deep in the draft. At forward and striker there are no sure things past the first five or six picks in the draft.

Then if enough of the younger players step up in midfield, you may have the possibility of trading one of your midfielders for a sure thing striker or defender at another team.

But, I expect since I wrote all of this, the Crew are not even interested in Nanchoff and will go with a bit of a head-scratcher like their last twelfth pick (Bright Dike) in the 2010 draft.

Here's what I see currently for the Crew and where they need depth going into this draft and offseason (italicized in need of depth or help):

--------------Mendoza----------Renteria-----------------
Subs: Lenhart, Heinemann

It's unlikely that both Mendoza and Renteria step up in 2011. Were going to need one more striker who can score over 10-15 goals a year. FOR ONCE!

Overall at forward: Could be better, but not horrible. If the Crew can sign one more striker that can actually bag goals consistently for them (Herrera 2.0 lol) then the Crew would have a nice strike force.. They need one out and out goalscorer, which would balance well with their two dangerous South Americans (Renteria and Mendoza) with moments of brillance and flair but not enough of them, and then Lenhart and Heinemann who can come in and be your danger men on headers (as well as your bruisers, guys that can also hold the ball well for you).

Rogers------------------Gaven------------------------Ekpo
-----------------------O'Rourke--------------------------

Subs: Duka, possibly Nanchoff, possibly Griffit, Renteria has also been known to play right mid.. Burns, although I don't see Burns as a starting DM.

Overall at midfield: The most solid part of the team. Duka is going to be a strong player in the future, as Duka reminded me a lot of Schelotto in certain ways when he did get on a field in 2010. Ekpo, Gaven, Rogers are all young players with tons of experience from 2008 to 2010 with the Crew.

Add a player like Nanchoff and maybe someone like Warzycha, and there's a lot of young talent there and players who can play different positions.

However, I WANT O'ROURKE out of the midfield and back in central defense with Marshall, that's why I put the DM position as shaky. Because I just do not trust Iro enough in central defense. I think we need to sign a defensive midfielder, but I don't think your going to find one that can start from day one in 2011 in this draft at our picks.

That's why it might of been a bit dumb to part with Carroll, especially since he was like 30 and not 36. I think that was overkill by the Crew in clearing house, especially if they have no one in mind.

The Crew's backline is just much stronger with O'Rourke back there with Marshall.

Francis------------Iro-----------Marshall-------------Miranda

Overall on defense: Were in trouble here in my opinion currently but then again I doubt were going to find anyone who can start from day one in this draft at our picks.

I mean Francis and Iro can do a serviceable job at times, but there not the 2008 backline in their prime of:

Padula--------------O'Rourke-------------Marshall------------Hejduk

I loved that backline then.

I'm just not sold yet on Francis's and Iro's body of work.

And who knows about Miranda, whether he will be a rock or only serviceable. His 3 years as a captain and the memory of Marcos Gonzalez make that signing seem positive. But, after Sergio Herrera last season, I want to actually see him make it on the field before I judge.

------------------------------Hesmer--------------------------------

Think were fine in goalkeep with Hesmer and Greunebaum, although I wouldn't be upset if Friedel came back and took over (especially for leadership since the Crew really have no one, except possibly Marshall who I could see stepping up and leading this team at the moment).

So, overall I think the Crew need in 2011:

A high caliber starting left back
A high caliber or at least better center back
Or move O'Rourke to center back and sign a higher caliber DM
And a striker for once who can score over 10 to 15 goals, to go along with our current strikers

If we can land a solid LB, CB, and ST in the transfer market...

or a solid LB, DM, and ST in the transfer market...

Then I think we will be okay. I also think we should just stock up on midfielders in this draft, as possible tradebait, if need be for one of those other positions.. If the Crew do not have the cap room to just buy all three positions on the transfer market.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

1/6/2011: Crew Sign Striker Tommy Heinemann



The Crew have signed Tommy Heinemann, a tall 6'4 striker that is good with his head and who impressed at 3rd Division Charleston Battery and 2nd Division Carolina Railhawks last season. Heinemann scored a total of 14 goals last season for the two clubs and also had a half dozen assists to go along with that.

The Crew did invite Heinemann to their preseason camp in 2009 and Heinemann stayed for nearly the duration, before the Crew decided to pass on the striker. However, after Heinemann decided to score 14 goals in the USL and NASL during the 2010 season, the Crew apparently didn't want to lose out on another goalscorer (like they did with Bright Dike). So, the Crew realized their mistake and snatched Heinemann back up today.

Heinemann and Dike both excelled in the Second Division in 2010 after the Crew passed on them. Dike was a first round draft pick for the Crew in 2010, that the Crew cut halfway through preseason. Dike went on to score 10 goals in 23 games for the Second Division Portland Timbers in 2010. The Timbers have kept Dike after being promoted to MLS in 2011.

Likewise Heinemann did four better than Dike, scoring 14 goals in 2010.. While Crew players that were kept over Heinemann and Dike, such as Sergio Herrera and Jason Garey, never or rarely ever scored in 2010.



Known for energetic goal celebrations, the 6'4 187 pound Heinemann reminds me a lot of Newcastle United's Andy Carroll (let me know if you think the same):


Heinemann seems to play a lot like Crew fan favorite Steven Lenhart. Which has to make you wonder if there is enough room on the team for both players. However, both have crazy hair, seem a little goofy, and have German surnames so they should get along famously if so.

Heinemann is also 23, about to be 24 so I'm assuming this is the Crew's first under-24 signing, as part of the return of the MLS Reserve League in 2011; As each MLS roster is expanded to 30 spots in 2011, with six spots being taken by players under 24 who do not count against the cap.

If so, looking at the above video I like the signing. Appears to be a quick, tall striker with good ball skills. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

1/4/2011: MLS Could Solve The Scandanavian (Cunningham, Goodson, Parkhurst) Issue With An Exception Rule



Former Crew striker Jeff Cunningham has declined to return to the Crew, instead opting to try his luck in Scandanavia.

Cunningham's possible move to Randers F.C. is another chapter in the Scandanavian region's (ever-expanding) incoming transfer book, in relation to MLS players. If such a book was in print, a fitting title would be- How to Become a Popular Employee for American Players Not Keen On MLS Salaries; as over 25 talented American players are on the payroll's of clubs in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland.

When all could likely have a successful place in MLS.

Cunningham's story is same note, different waltz or Polka or beerhaus tune from Chris Rolfe at Aalborg, Michael Parkhurst at FC Nordsjælland, and Clarence Goodsen at IK Start.

Cunningham's Scandanavian move however has the most in common with the exodus made by Clarence Goodson, another former FC Dallas player who made the frigid move to Scandanavia in 2007.

Since 2008, Goodson has excelled for Tippelegan club IK Start. But, back in the 2007-2008 MLS offseason, Goodson's future was uncertain (like Cunningham's) when Goodson was unlucky enough to find himself stuck in the offseason expansion drafts & re-entry drafts that plague MLS offseasons.

At that time, Goodson (quite possibly annoyed with the dooldrums of 3 or 4 re-entry/expansion/waiver drafts & that no team wanted to pay him the big bucks) probably hypothetically thought, "forget this, I'm trading Dallas for Start, I'm getting my parka, I'm headed to the Norwegian Tippelegan!" And, that began the exodus of such talented MLS players as MLS All-Stars Chris Rolfe (Aalborg) and Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjælland) to the Scandanavian promise land.

The moves by these players are mainly a financial decision, followed secondly by the decision to be in the suburbs of Europe's top leagues. But, overwhelmingly it's a money decision, as let's be serious, none of these players will likely be running out for Bayern or Chelsea anytime soon. So, what it comes down to is that Scandanavia can give these players the payday they think their worth, while the MLS cannot.

For example, let's say Goodson and Cunningham think their worth $200K plus, but MLS teams do not agree in a MLS framework; As MLS teams would have to fit moderately expensive players, such as Goodson and Cunningham, into a $2.4 million dollar salary framework. Both Goodson and Cunningham are good supporting cast players. But, does a MLS club want to spend 10 to 15% percent of your salary on a "good, supporting cast player" when you have to field a team with 10 other players?

The answer is usually no. The only time in MLS you (if you were a GM) want to pay more than $200K for a player- is if that player is a gamechanger or if he's a bigger name who will push the club's merchandise meter and gain your club more attention.. Goodson's a non-flashy defender, Cunningham can change the occasional game but not like he used to. Both have great worth in MLS on the field, but just don't pass the ball as nicely on a MLS budget.

So Goodson in 2007, just like Cunningham in 2010, were deemed surplus to F.C. Dallas mainly because of their pricetags. So, in swoops the Aalborg's and your IK Start's who think $200K to $400K salary is bargain shopping for a Clarence Goodson. IK Start alone found two gems in MLS in Hunter Freeman and Clarence Goodson- that turned their defensive woes around and got the club promoted and then in the top half of the Norwegian Tippelegan.

It's not that Goodson didn't have talent while in MLS either. F.C. Dallas and other MLS teams would like to hang onto players like Goodson and their second all-time leading goalscorer Cunningham; as both are better than the $50K players, straight out of college, likely asked to step up and replace them. But, F.C. Dallas didn't want to pay $150,000 for a defender in Goodson nor did they want to pay upwards of $200,000 for an aging striker in Cunningham, that's too much for a supporting cast member in a $2.4 million dollar payroll.

So, in December 2010 when the Crew gained Cunningham's rights through a second re-entry draft (after an expansion draft for new clubs Portland and Vancouver and a first re-entry draft for waived players) and the Crew weren't willing to pay $200 K to Cunningham, just like FC Dallas was no longer willing to pay $200 K for the 34 year old Cunningham's services; It came as no real surprise to Crew management or Crew fans that Cunningham gave a kind "stick that offer where the sun doesn't shine."

Bliss on the Cunningham offer to The Columbus Dispatch:

"I don't want to say it was on a whim, but if we can't come to an agreement, we're OK with that," Bliss said. "We thought, 'He's available, so let's see if we can't get something done.'"



Basically, let's see if Cunningham wants to play for us for one year at $75K. Real surprise Jeffro (as Cunningham is called) hopped on the first jet to Scandanavia.


"We made an offer that was rejected and he made a counterproposal that was a
bit far-fetched," Crew technical director Brian Bliss said. "That was the last
conversation we had."



Having Cunningham (with his 11 goals this season, and 28 total over the last two seasons) sure would of been a nice option for the Crew in 2011. It beats calling on Lenhart or Garey's four or five goals a season. But, then again, the Crew weren't going to offer a 34-year-old $200 K when they just cut all their 35 year old's (and up club) making $200 K plus.

For Goodson, his Scandanavian journey has worked out quite well since 2007. Goodson has had 63 appearances and 10 goals for IK Start of the Norwegian First Division (Tippeligaen); Goodson has also played an intrical role in taking IK from the Second Division in Norway to an 8th place finish in 2010. His play has been awarded with a transfer this January to Danish top club Brondby IF.

Cunningham appears now headed to Denmark as well, as Cunningham is currently on trial with Danish mid-table club Randers F.C.; It wouldn't be a surprise if the career-long MLS goalscorer, who gave so much to MLS, impresses Randers and gets his $200 K contract, hell I wouldn't be surprised if that's doubled.

You can add him and Goodson to other American players who have elected Scandanavia (leagues not overly superior to MLS) over MLS like Chris Rolfe, Hunter Freeman, Michael Parkhurst, Marcus Tracy, Ryan Miller, Benny Feilhaber, and over 20 other American players who play in Scandanavia.

I think as MLS expands and in turn expands their salary cap they should do something to keep players (such as Cunningham, Parkhurst, Goodson, Rolfe, Freeman, Tracy) in MLS by establishing a Supporting Player Rule, similiar to the DP rule already in MLS. The rule being in the frame of each team receiving 2 Supporter Player spots, where these players can make 200-350 k but only cost 75K-100K on the salary cap.

Because a lot of these players would lift the level of MLS teams and lift the overall level of skilled players in MLS.. And may keep a few players who should never see an MLS field on a MLS bench.

I believe this has to be the next step after the DP rule and the new Reserve league rules (of 6 players 24 and under that do not count against the salary cap). As when the league expands to a $2.7 to $3 million dollar salary cap, this supporting player (or supporting DP player) rule should be in place.

Especilly since players like Rolfe, Parkhurst, and especially Cunningham have brought MLS fans a lot more thrills and joy, and also played a lot better in MLS than Ljuenberg and some other failed DP's ever did. Cunningham's agent Jan Schiefloe makes a good case for MLS teams to want to keep Cunningham in MLS:

“I am quite surprised that more MLS teams haven't pursued Jeff. In the last two years, he's scored 28 goals, which is second in MLS after Conor Casey (29). I see many MLS teams looking near and far for a proven goalscorer, and time and time again pay big money for players who don't produce, while Jeff, who is proven over 13 seasons in MLS, can be signed now at a relative bargain.”



A supporting player rule would lead to a lot of MLS teams breaking down Jeff's door, but at the moment MLS clubs have cold feet and smell a dip in form coming for Cunningham (because of his age, not starting, and dropping down from 17 goals to 11 last season). Not that 11 is anything to sniff at in MLS. But, it's hard for a lot of teams to shell $200 K to $300 k for a 34 year-old player that might reproduce that form over the next two years or may be injured the next two years and score 2 goals a season.

Further, another worry, in the wrong system Cunningham could revert to his form at Toronto F.C. where he had only 6 goals in 32 games.

So, there has to be more incentive for MLS players to hold onto players like Rolfe, Parkhurst, Cunningham, and Goodson... Especially when players like Rolfe and Parkhurst are 100% percent guarentee's not to let a MLS team down. But, it's not going to happen unless these players are holding down Scandanavian type salaries and are being paid at least $200 K to $300 K for their services.


Goodson celebrates a goal for IK Start, the American has not only been a defensive rock for the Norwegian side but also a set piece heading terror, scoring a goal for the club in every six outings.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

1/2/2011: Chilean Attacker Eduardo Rubio To Join Teammate Sebastian Miranda In Columbus?



After the Crew were eliminated from the playoffs by eventual MLS Champions for the second year in a row, both times in the first-round (RSL in 2009, Rapids in 2010); it was reported that Crew Technical Director Brian Bliss headed back to South America on multiple scouting trips to unearth new, younger talent. Bliss headed to South America days after the Crew were eliminated as he knew what was upcoming.. As days later the exodus of fan-favorite veterans such as Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Frankie Hejduk, Gino Padula, and Duncan Oughton were dropped from the club. Head coach Robert Warzycha stated the old guard (all 35 or older- or in the case of Padula close to it) needed to be replaced by younger (faster) talent; as what achieved the MLS Cup and Supporters Shield in 2008 wasn't cutting it in 2010. By mid-December 2010, Bliss told The Columbus Dispatch that the Crew were close to signing a South American striker and defender to hopefully fill those holes.

Before the new year, the Crew confirmed the signing of Chilean First Division right back Sebastian Miranda, who was the Captain of Union Espana (of Chile) for the previous three seasons. This made it clear that Bliss did a good chunk of his scouting in the 2010-2011 offseason in Chile, especially at Copa Liberatdores participants Union Espanola. Nonsurprisingly, it appears that the "South American striker" stated by Bliss to be acquired with a new South American defender, also is from Chile and played on the same team as Sebastian Miranda.

That player appears to be Eduardo Rubio.

The 27 year old Rubio had his best years with top Chilean club Universidad Catolica (also the current club of former Crew defender Marcos Gonzalez) from 2002-2006- where Rubio made 115 appearances scoring 25 goals. Rubio's success in Chile lifted him to bigger clubs, such as Cruz Azul in Mexico and FC Basel in Switzerland, but Rubio couldn't consistently keep his spot and was in a soccer wilderness from 2006-2009. In 2010, Rubio returned to Chile and joined up with Sebastian Miranda's Union Espanola, starting in nearly half of their overall games. Now it appears Rubio (13 caps and 4 goals with Chile's NT team), along with possibly his younger brother, are headed stateside.

Rubio scores a good goal here at 1:46 (especially check out the close replay at 1:56):


That is according to many sources in South America- such as Terra and La Cuarta, as well as Blog de MLS, and MLS-Rumors. And, since Bliss stated he was working on signing a South American attack-minded player along with Miranda, there's a good chance that Bliss wants to bring in Eduardo Rubio as well or at least passed Rubio and his brother on to other MLS scouts (as good possibilities for MLS).

What makes Rubio another possibility is that another Chilean website TodoFutbol.CL placed Rubio as gone with Miranda to Columbus:

GONE: Luis Marin (O'Higgins), Mario Aravena (U. La Calera), Jorge Ampuero (U. La Calera), Raúl Estévez, Miguel Aceval (a U.de Conce), Gustavo Canales (to "U"), Francisco Nájera (Once Caldas), Nicolás Núñez, Roberto Orders, Eduardo Rubio and Sebastian Miranda (the U.S. Columbus Crew)

Crewture's Take:
If Rubio is joining Miranda, I would think it would help with Miranda's transition to Columbus. Also, at 27, you got to like the experience of Rubio. It would also be nice to bring Rubio's younger brother in with him as well. Would be a nice group of creative acquisitions and I like how the Chilean's play, both in the World Cup in 2008 and what I saw out of Gonzalez here in Columbus back in 2006.

Chileans seem to be a stronger, tougher group of South Americans which makes for an easier transition into MLS.