Gaven, Schelotto, Hejduk's for 9/20

Meram doesn't agree ✜ Could Manneh have helped his US stock? ✜ Meram for FIFA18. Vote ✜

Crew SC 2 minutes and 19 seconds from a huge result

But, everyone else who could catch them lost or tied.

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.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

2/26/2011: Crewture Video- Highlights from Crew vs. RSL (1st Leg Champs League)

Crewture.com: Highlights from Crew vs. RSL (1st Leg Champs League)-



Highlights from the field and the stands during the 0-0 tie in the first leg of the Quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. As well as player ratings.

Music:
Theophilis London- You've Got The Love (Florence and The Machine XX Remix)

Friday, February 25, 2011

2/25/2011: Crewture's "The People's Ratings" For First Leg Vs. RSL



Emilio Renteria 7.0- Thought out of the two starters, Emilio was a bit more lively than Mendoza. Renteria had some good head's up passes early on, had one of the best opportunities, and dribbled well early on. Rating would of been higher for Renteria, and Mendoza if they could have gotten on the scoresheet.

Andres Mendoza 6.9- Not a bad performance from Mendoza.. Mendoza did seem lively early on and more interested compared to when he was on the field in late 2010. Mendoza, similiar to Renteria, ran out of ideas early on in the second half and was less effective.

Emmanuel Ekpo 6.4- Ekpo and Rogers need to step up a bit and have a big 2011. Doesn't seem like either was intending on stepping up last Tuesday. Ekpo had a couple moments early on. But, by the middle of the first half Ekpo was doing his dribbling to nowhere foray's that led to a few turnovers. In the second half, I forgot Ekpo was still on the field and thought he had been substituted. Barely got a touch on the ball.

Robbie Rogers 6.4- Rogers first outing in 2011 could have been better. Robbie's crossing was off, as in the first half there was a breakaway where a good cross could have led to a goal but instead Rogers fluffed the cross over the keeper and towards the Nordecke.

Also, Robbie's corners made me miss Schelotto's, nowhere near GBS's quality yet in that department. Not sure if it's disinterest, but Rogers needs to focus and have a big year in 2011 to get back to the success he had in early 2008.


Eddie Gaven 6.4- Gaven has had better games. And there's not as much pressure on him in 2011, as Ekpo and Rogers, because Gaven has performed on a pretty consistent basis yearly for the Crew from 2008-2011.

But, Tuesday, be it the cold or whatever, just wasn't Gaven's night; As Eddie's biggest contribution in the match was forcing a tackle by Beltran that led to Beltran's first of two yellow's, culminating into a red.

Cole Grossman 7.5- Cole was one of those pleasant new surprises on Tuesday night. Not sure what it was, but all the new players looked more focused... More than likely because there's more urgency for them to impress the manager early on.

Anyways, Grossman had an impressive tackle that caught into my memory and the best set piece take of the night in the second half. Could of given Cole a higher rating, but we'll see if his first run out is the usual or just an albatross.

Sebastian Miranda 7.9- Noticied Miranda all the time on Tuesday as he seemed to be involved and everywhere all game, snuffing out RSL's attacking opportunities. Miranda showed why he was a captain with his team in Chile and I could see the former Red Bull Salzburg player becoming a captain once again with Columbus if his English improves.

Really liked Miranda's bite, his acceleration/speed, and his decision making. Will see if he can keep it up.

Rich Balchan 7.5- Had Espindola and the rest of RSL's attack shut down, showed a lot of pace in defense as the Crew have seemed to select Miranda and Balchan for their pace as well; As overall this is a much quicker team.

Impressive to get a clean sheet with Iro in central defense, in his first outing against a team with one roster change all offseason in RSL.


Andy Iro 7.6- I have questioned Iro a bit in the offseason. But, give credit where credit is due, Iro showed up and played well last Tuesday night. Seems like Iro was a bit faster on Tuesday in shuffling his feet and keeping in front of his defender; As in the past sometimes Iro's lack of pace would get him in trouble.

Good game. Made good decisions in the back all night.

Josh Gardner 7.2- Had a good game surprisingly filling in on the left side; as nobody had Josh Gardner slated into the lineup predictions. Heck, Gardner only joined the Crew officially the day before.

But, considering his performance on Tuesday, and considering Gardner's solid play in second division U.S. soccer, he appears to be a good selection for some depth in the Crew's defensive positions. Once again, Gardner appeared to have good pace as well.

Ray Burse 6.7- Didn't have much to do, but also did not make any boneheaded goalkeeping mistakes either. So, gets a so-so rating. Got the cleansheet, but I could have played goalkeeper Tuesday night for the Crew and probably have picked up a cleansheet as well.

No joke. That's how unthreatening RSL's attack was.

Leandre Griffit 6.9- As a substitute in the 63rd minute, had a nice run down the right side at one point late in the game. Was about the only player that decided to take on RSL's defense late in the game instead of back passing around RSL's defensive shell.

Also, on a random note, Griffit has about the most impressive trap when a teammate crosses a diagonal ball, 30 yards across the field.

However, Griffit made a few mistakes as well, for example his one corner kick attempt late in the game was horrific.


Jeff Cunningham & Justin Meram 6.5's- I'm going to put both of the striker substitutes in the second half into the same boat; As both Cunningham and Meram tried to get open and make something happen.. But, then again the Crew's midfield just did a horrible job of being creative and making an opening or nice cross for Cunningham or Meram to get on the end of.

Both our exciting players though, and was happy to see both get on the field. One of these two will likely have to combine with Mendoza next Tuesday in RSL, since Renteria is out of the second leg with a red card.





2/25/2011: New Poll- What New Face Will Have The Most Impact In 2011?


Photos by Sam Fahmi/Massive Report. Check out his gallery here at The Massive Report.

The biggest positive from Tuesday night for the Columbus Crew is that the new faces, not the old ones, stepped up and had the best games in the frigid opener.

New Chilean back Sebastian Miranda was aggressive and ran all day, Rich Balchan was fast and could chase down any attacker, Cole Grossman was physical in the middle and made his prescene known, and Josh Gardner filled in well on the left side in his first MLS action in half a decade.

So, what player is going to take those good vibrations and be the next star for the Crew this season. There's a poll on the bottom right side on Crewture's main page (for you to vote) and also would love to here your evaluations of all four new players right here in the comments section.


Sebastian Miranda.. One of the most impressive new faces according to the consensus by Crew fans from Tuesday night. The former captain, with over 200 caps for Chilean Premier side Union Espana, had the polished play and smarts of a professional on Tuesday.

Miranda was aggressive with his defensive decisions, no indecision, and had a motor that allowed him to run all 90 minutes Tuesday. More of that this season from Miranda will ease the loss of fan favorite Frankie Hejduk.


Cole Grossman looks like a great pick in the draft at #28 this season. Grossman was physical, at one point knocking a RSL player right off a ball and onto the ground on Tuesday. His youthfulness, didn't lack a mature-ness that you often see from Duke players (such as in basketball). Grossman made smart decisions. I'm very unconcerned with our defensive midfield position this season with Balchan and Grossman hopefully sharing the starting reigns.

If both can step up in that position, then we can put O'Rourke back on the backline with Marshall.


Rich Balchan who could be Warzycha's brother in the above picture, looks like he could have a similiar distinguished playing career like the coach who drafted him with the Crew's first #8 pick this year.

The Crew haven't made it a secret that they have been very pleased with Balchan in preseason, and he showed well in a makeshift central defense with Andy Iro on Tuesday.

Balchan has the ability to start from day one with the Crew and hopefully he has a long and distinguished career in front of him for the black and yellow.


Josh Gardner is the case of a highly valued player as a rookie, who was selected by LA at #13 in 2004, who however couldn't make a name for himself as a young player in MLS. So, Josh dropped down a division and from 2007-2010 got himself over 100 caps with the USL-1 version of the Seattle Sounders and the Carolina Railhawks of the NASL.

In 2007, Josh was instrumental in the Sounders side that won the USL-1 Championship. In 2010, Josh once again led the Railhawks to the USSF Division 2 Pro (USL-1 & NASL) final.

Gardner is a player that had his ups and downs, and fought his way back up to MLS with the Columbus Crew this season. I like a player who has been through some tribulations and hasn't just had the easy road, where everything is handed to him. Learning his trade in the less glamorous USL-1 makes Josh a tougher character.

If Gardner plays as well as he did on Tuesday, Francis may have some competition this season on the left side.

So what did you think of these new players, which ones do you see having a long term impact with the Crew? Leave a comment or vote on the main page.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2/23/2011: First Reactions To 2011 Crew Overwhelmingly Positive


Andres Mendoza (above) showed flashes last night early on of being able to team up well with Emilio Renteria in 2011.

The Columbus Crew played out to a 0-0 draw against Real Salt Lake tonight in the home leg of the CONCACAF quarterfinal. The game probably wasn't the most exciting affair to warm up the diehards in 20 degree weather, but despite a possible lack of excitement, the game was eye opening in a lot of respects.

I'm just going to list off some quick positives and negatives, and go to bed, a three hour drive home has me sleepy here...

POSITIVES:

*Some new additions played pretty well in my opinion, and have helped allay some of my concerns going into 2011. Sebastian Miranda looks like a real player, with an engine, I think he will be a good player in the back.

Grossman really impressed me too, especially for just getting thrown in there. Had a very nice couple of tackles. Grossman may be just one of those later rounders that turns into a star for us. Solid, young player.

Didn't see as much from Balchan. But, then again you don't want to see a lot from defenders. He did well with Iro in central defense, good first clean sheet outing from the rookie back.

Josh Gardner did well filling in on the left side for Shaun Francis. Gardner did shank that one cross, but that's to be expected when you're not left footed. I thought Gardner was a pretty good player when I saw him before at L.A., gives us some nice depth especially if he can fill in at the left back position.

Thought Andy Iro had a pretty good game, seems like he was quicker and more aggressive last night in defense.

Overall, great job defensively considering there was no Chad Marshall or Danny O'Rourke or Shaun Francis. Although I think I like Miranda and Balchan or Gardner better as our wing backs.

*The Crew played some good attack in the beginning.. They cut through the middle of RSL by playing quick, one touch balls in the heart of the RSL defense. This is the key, the Crew have to keep it on the ground and attack defense's more centrally. Attack the heart of the defense if they let you. As in the second half the Crew tried to push it out wide, and the crosses were bad, and the Crew ran out of ideas which led to a bunch of back passing.

Just instead of going right through the middle (thought RSL was letting the Crew in the beginning and they still could) in the second half their were no ideas and some back passing. Played better 11 on 11 actually.

*It was really fun giving Jeff Cunningham a round of applause last night when he entered, lifted me a little bit when my freezing toes were in excruciating pain. I like bringing him and Meram in later in the game. Have Renteria and Mendoza pound you, and then you look over and the second leading goalscorer in MLS is coming off the bench. It's like the calvary has just arrived.

NEGATIVES:

*Thought Ekpo and Rogers could have had better games. Rogers had some terrible crosses, and Ekpo went on a few dribbling forays that led to shots 30 yards over the crossbar.

*The Crew played worse a man up. Seems the Crew were more aggressive in attacking the RSL defense when it was 11 on 11. As soon as the Crew got a man up, they looked content on passing it around the defensive shell of RSL looking for an opening.

The problem was no one on the Crew, late in the game, made a bold move or took anyone on, they just continued to pass around looking for the perfect opportunity and it never came. Sometimes you have to make your own opportunities in the attack.

*Haven't found the person yet to replace Schelotto on crosses, although Grossman had a nice free kick on goal. The crosses were terrible be it Rogers or Griffit's (although I think Griffit did some good things last night).

OVERALL:

Could of been a lot worse. I really like that this team seems to have a lot more pace, and played a lot more directly at times earlier in the game. I liked how they went from defense to attacking in a snap of a finger at times early on.

Wasn't as impressed in the play when we were a man up.

But, definitely some things to hang your hat on. Further, I thought the Crew was the more positive team out of the two last night. I'm optimistic that the Crew can still pull out a win against RSL next week away.

OUTSIDE OPINION:

Seems like outside opinion on this game gives the Crew a lot to hang their hats on as well. Leander Schaerlaeckens ESPN blog commented on the courageous Crew and reeling Real here.

2/22/2011: Starless, New Look Crew Needs A Big Performance Tonight To Win Over Nordecke, Crew Fans


The end game for tonight after 90 minutes better be a happy, joyous victory filled clap over at the Nordecke, or Crew fans have a month to ruminate over a loss tonight.

Rob Oller's Columbus Dispatch article is right, the Crew are severely lacking in leaders and stars entering the 2011 season. And the likes of Chad Marshall and Emmanuel Ekpo stepping up and taking on that role are unlikely.

So, what do the Crew have to do tonight, just win baby.

Winning is the cure all for fans. Fans who are sour because they've lost players that they have connected to like Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Frankie Hejduk.

The Crew need a big performance tonight to put a lot behind them and to open a new chapter, that's the most important thing that can be gained out of tonight. Not as Warzycha said yesterday, that the most important thing from this game is that both teams do not suffer an injury.

Oller's article is once again right, the face of the Crew organization at the moment is the Nordecke. And this new Crew is basically on a job interview tonight, will they do the right things to impress the Nordecke or will they leave the Nordecke looking for more and asking questions?

If the Crew do the latter, it will breed negativty into the MLS season, as Crew fans will have a good month to discuss this game as they await the MLS season.

A bad performance tonight and Crew fans might already start to write off 2011. So, a big performance tonight is crucial to get 2011, and Warzycha's team off to a good start.

In mid-20 degree weather tonight, the only ones that will probably be there in force tonight is the Nordecke. It probably wouldn't be a keen idea of the Crew to play 50% percent and blame the weather, and leave these diehards asking questions after 90 minutes tonight.

Monday, February 21, 2011

2/22/2011: What Every Striker Should Say..



Jeff Cunningham demonstrates why he's a goal away from becoming the leading goalscorer in MLS with this comment today to The Columbus Dispatch:

"I know I can continue to score goals in this league but I have to prove that to the fans and my teammates. Robert has faith in me. That's why he brought me in. But I have to reward that. I need to get to that level were I'm scoring goals regularly. This is going to be a big season for me."

Although it will be debated whether Cunningham is a positive or negative force in a locker room, there is no doubt that this is a positive goal scoring attitude. An attitude that you just haven't heard a lot from Crew strikers in the past few years.. And frankly, I like it.

A quote that I'm not so hot on in the run up to Tuesday's "pivotal" Concacaf quarterfinal home leg, is what Warzycha had to say in terms of what is important for Tuesday's game:

"It’s not going to be an ideal situation but they will adjust. The important thing is for nobody to get injured on either team because of the weather conditions."

Gee. The important thing is for no one to get hurt on Real Salt Lake? I'm driving three hours tomorrow to watch this game in 20 degree weather, could you at least say something more motivating Robert, instead of I hope no one on either team gets hurt.

Glad another fan picked up on this in The Columbus Dispatch comments:

blandestk:
Crew coach Robert Warzycha: "The important thing is for us to win this match."

Oh, no, wait, the important thing is for neither team to be injured due to weather conditions.


Have to agree that the important thing in this game is one step closer to a FIFA Club World Cup debut, not whether RSL ends up hamstring-perfect after 90 minutes on Tuesday. Hmm..

2/21/2011: Guillermo's Progress In Argentina



So far Guillermo Barros Schelotto has started both of his games back in Gimnasia for the Primera Division relegation battlers. In his first game back, Guillermo gained a penalty for Gimnasia that led to a vital tie.



Guillermo was key in gaining the penalty for his new club, as you can see to a better degree in the following video:


Guillermo's new club didn't have as good of a run out in their second game of the Clasura losing 3-1 to Olimpo:

2/21/2011: Crew Get Deeper With Veeder



The 19 year old American defender Korey Veeder has joined the 2o11 Crew via weighted lottery.
Veeder helps a Crew defense, with a lot of question marks, start to gain itself some depth; As the Crew will hope that Veeder, who played 20 games for NASL side Crystal Palace Baltimore last year, will turn up to be quality similiar to how rookie Richard Balchan has so far.

Veeder who has 21 U-17 appearances, and 7 U-20 appearances for the United States found himself without a club in 2011 as Crystal Palace Baltimore dissolved; Veeder was hoping to parlay the end of his CP Baltimore career with a move over to England or Belgium thanks to Crystal Palace's contacts.. But, such a move didn't come about.

Last weekend, the Crew won the rights to Veeder despite only a 19% percent chance of landing him in the lottery. Toronto F.C. had a 45% percent chance, but per usual TFC fail were unable to land Veeder over the Crew. The Crew are not likely complaining and will gladly take the extra defensive depth.

2/21/2011: Preview- And So It Begins.. Crew Begin 2011 Season On Tuesday Vs. RSL



The 2011 Columbus Crew is Robert Warzycha's team. There will be no excuses come the end of this season, if the 2011 team is successful his decisions in this offseason will have a lot to do with it. Likewise, if the Crew are less successful than 2010, Warzycha's decisions might come back to haunt him in the 2011-2012 offseason.

Either way, the decisions have been made, and we have to support the manager and the team we have. Further, it's the opening game of the season which is the most optimistic moment of the season for a lot of fans. So, it's best to feed off the optimism now before Tuesday night is over.

How The Crew Are Shaping Up Defensively For The 2011 Season (And Against RSL on Tuesday)

Crew's manager Robert Warzycha has commented (and commented.. and commented again) in the last week that he has been happy and impressed with his defense in Arizona. That's all nice and good but the Crew also lost three games in Arizona, including a 4-2 loss to Houston.

Nevertheless, rookie Richard Balchan is wooing the Crew staff and may be ready to step into defense right away which is a good thing. Additionally, it also appears that the Crew staff is happy with Sebastian Miranda's transition to the MLS game so far which is also a positive.

On the other hand, the Crew are not shaping up well in defense for Tuesday's Concacaf Quarterfinal (Home Leg) as possible starting defenders Shaun Francis (left back) and Danny O'Rourke (center back) are out.

With that news the backline will likely be a game time decision for Warzycha, open for interpretation and discussion until it's announced on the Crew Stadium's loud speaker.

Backline expectations: Miranda and even Balchan are known for being versatile on the backline. Balchan may be less so though, so I could see Balchan starting at his more traditional right back and Miranda at left back with Marshall and Iro in the middle.

Miranda-----Iro------Marshall-----Balchan

The Midfield For The 2011 Season (And Against RSL)

The midfield is the Crew's strongpoint in 2011 with former starters Gaven, Ekpo, and Rogers complemented by the likes of Duka, Griffit, and the rookie Grossman.

Recently, Warzycha said that the Crew were likely to play two true forwards in 2011 complemented by an attacking midfielder. This means the Crew are likely looking to play a 4-4-2 diamond formation with an attacking and defending midfielder, along with two wingers in 2011.

With no injuries, I could see the Crew trotting out the following on opening day in midfield.

----------Rogers/Ekpo------------
Rogers/Ekpo-----------------Gaven
--------O'Rourke/Balchan---------

Against RSL on Tuesday, the Crew's likely best midfielder, Eddie Gaven, is questionable. Further, O'Rourke isn't expected to play and Balchan will likely have to go to the backline because of injuries there. Also, Burns may be ruled out because of a rib injury.

Therefore, the Crew may be more looking at a starting midfield of:

-------------Rogers-----------
Griffit-------------------Ekpo
-----------Grossman-----------

Or if Gaven can go:

----------Ekpo------------
Rogers---------------Gaven
---------Grossman---------

As a result, once again the Crew may be weaker than normal on the field this Tuesday because of injury issues.

The Offense For The 2011 Season (And Against RSL)

I think that the Crew's strikeforce is quietly the most improved area of this team so far in 2011. I like the options the Crew has with Mendoza, Renteria, Cunningham, and Meram compared to the beginning of 2010 with Renteria, Herrera, Garey, and Lenhart.

I may not totally agree with the substantial pay increase for Mendoza but if he scored 13 goals in Mexico two years ago, he should be able to do the same in America with a full season. Meram is a talented product and I like the aggressive move by the Crew to get him for Lenhart. Cunningham has 28 goals over the last two seasons, so there is no reason Cunningham couldn't poach 10 more for the Crew this year. And finally, I believe Renteria is a good run of form away from a 10-15 goal year for the Crew, as Renteria steadily improves and is a work horse.

The starting lineup up top for the Crew on Tuesday and for the season will likely be:
Mendoza--------------Renteria

With either Cunningham or Meram getting 20-30 minutes off the bench.



X FACTORS IN RSL MATCHUP:
For the Crew the X Factor will be the play in defense of rookie Richard Balchan and new international Sebastian Miranda, will there play be enough to keep the RSL attack at bay. For RSL, it will be the play of Brazilian youngster Paulo Jr., how will he combine with Saborio in the attack and does he have more CONCACAF goals in him.

The winner of these unknowns, will likely win the game. I can see the Crew slating one or two past RSL's defense, but the big question mark is whether the Crew's makeshift defense on Tuesday can hold RSL's offense in check.

OVERALL, HOW DOES THE CREW MATCH UP AGAINST RSL:

Although the following lineup isn't what the Crew would like to start out the CONCACAF Quarterfinals with-

----Mendoza------------Renteria------
--------------Ekpo-------------------
Rogers--------------------------Gaven
------------Grossman-----------------
Miranda----Iro-----Marshall---Balchan
-------------Burse-------------------

Especially in the goalkeeping position as Burse hasn't started a MLS game since 2009, Real Salt Lake are going through their own issues of an unfinalized roster.

Even with RSL's own issues, concerns, and question marks, the Crew will have to be on their toes in defense on Tuesday as RSL has some offensive punch by adding Arturo Alvarez to the likes of Saborio, an impressive Brazilian youngster Paulo Jr., and Javier Morales.

However, I believe the excitement of the first game at Columbus Crew Stadium for the 2011 season will lift the Crew in their opener of this CONCACAF series. Hopefully, being at home lifts the Crew to a two or greater goal lead as they'll need it in the away leg at Rio Tinto next week... Especially if the Crew do not get healthier in a week's time.

RESULT: Crew 3, RSL 1. The Crew will need a big game from their new attack. I think Renteria, Mendoza, and Cunningham all get off to the races with a goal a piece for the good guys, but RSL keeps it close by exchanging the first goal and going into half at 1-1. The Crew pull away late, as the home momentum and bad weather is just too much for RSL to overcome.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

2/8/2011: Crewture's In The Mix- Best Goals Worldwide (For 2/1 to 2/8/2011)



Just a new weekly video i'm putting on my soccer websites. I'm extending it to more leagues like MLS, Bundesliga, etc. in coming weeks. Music mixed as well by me, just something fun weekly for those that don't have a hour to browse for goal highlights..



Crewture: In The Mix
"World Is Yours" Mix for 2/1 to 2/8

Songs:
Take Over Control- Afrojack ft. Eva Simons
South American- Tom Sawyer vs. Dj Beatbreaker
Pass Out- Tinie Tempah vs. Bomfunk MC's
World Is Yours- Sidney Sampson

Sunday, February 6, 2011

2/6/2011: Crew Bring Trio Of International Trialists To Arizona Camp

The Crew have introduced a trio of international trialists in Arizona in replacement of Pat McAfee ( a NFL punter with the Colts, who the Crew thankfully left in Columbus) and the other debatedly impressive trialists the Crew trialed back in Columbus as well (who they have also parted ties with recently). Here's a little info on the trio, let's hope one ends up being a diamond in the rough for the Massive Club.



Santiago "Santi" Prim, 20

Santiago was last on contract with San Lorenzo of the Argentine Primera division. At San Lorenzo, Santiago made two appearances in 2009. Since 2009, "Santi" has languished in the reserves at the club. At 5'8, the Argentine attacking midfielder/withdrawn forward sounds like a younger version (at least in build and citizenship) of Schelotto, who the Crew apparently didn't need anymore.

With the Crew looking to play two true forwards in 2011, instead of a withdrawn forward/attacking mid- Schelotto's position- along with a true forward like they did from 2008 to 2010, I find it surprising that there seems to be a focus on the attacking midfield/withdrawn forward position so far in the players the Crew are bringing in for a look in 2011.

Crewture's Thoughts: Santi could pan out, as decent Argentinians have turned out to be All-Stars in MLS. For example, Javier Morales is an All-Star with RSL, and played in the Fourth Division of Spain before making the move to Utah. Nevertheless, Morales in his younger days also had over 100 caps with Argentinean Primera side Arsenal over two spells.

However, other Argentines, such as Morales teammate Fabian Espindola were virtual unknowns before coming to MLS and since Espindola's move stateside in 2007, he has carved out over 70 respectable appearances for RSL as a role player. So, you never know, what could be excess goods for San Lorenzo could be treasure for the Crew.



Dejan Rusmir, 31

Dejan had an inconspicous start and recent career, with a nice middle. At 21, Rusmir's youth appearances in Serbia got him a deal with big Serbian club Partizan Belgrade. But, from 21 to 24 Rusmir made only 10 appearances. He backed that up with only another 12 appearances with less impressive Serbian side Rad Beograd for the next two seasons.

Finally at 26, he found a spot for himself by moving to the Romanian first division with newly promoted Ceahlăul Piatra Neamţ. With Piatra Neamt, Dejan made 53 appearances (netting 10 goals) from 2006 to 2008 and then moved to fellow relegation battlers Farul Constanta where he once again started for the most part with 27 appearances in the 2008-2009 season with 5 goals.

From 2006 to 2009, at the age of 26 to 29, Dejan had his peak with 90 appearances and 16 goals, mainly in the Romanian first division. His Farul side didn't do well in his year as a starter and were relegated to the second division in 2009-2010. Dejan kept his spot at the start of the 2009-2010 season but lost it by November 2009, after 10 appearances. Since then Dejan has languished on the bench in 2010 and has been without a team since June of 2010.

Despite his debatable recent form (on a bench and then on a sofa for the last year), there is some nice vision and creativity in these videos to warrant a look.




Crewture's Thoughts: There are some things to suggest in the above video that Dejan could be a leader in that more attacking central midfield position above Danny O'Rourke. Then again, at 31 I'm not sure how excited I am of him and certainly don't see him as an upgrade to Schelotto (which he plays a lot like it seems- a poor man's Eastern European version of Schelotto).

Not that this is a bad thing, especially if Dejan has more pace and is more willing to get back and defend. But, I would be way more excited about his experience if Dejan was 25 or even 27 or 28. At 31, and without any Serbian or Romanian clubs scrambling to pick him up in the last six or seven months.. How much of a commodity can he be?

I guess we will see.



Alex Fraga, 24

Fraga may be the one jewel that the Crew have brought in. The 24 year old, who just recently was let go from Brazilian top side Athletico Paranaese, had 26 appearances for the Brazilian club from 2006 to 2009. He also started the whole 2010 season (31 games) on loan for Georgian Premier side Olimpi Rustavi, leading them to a title this past 2010 season.

Fraga is off to a good start, scoring in a 2-2 tie against Kansas City in the Crew's first preseason game from a Gaven corner.

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Crewture's Thoughts: The Crew could use a diamond in the rough at center back. I'm not yet convinced of Andy Iro completely, and if Warzycha intends to use O'Rourke as a DM instead of a CB. I would like someone solid to pair in central defense with Chad Marshall. Hopefully Fraga can be that.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

2/1/2011: Pros & Cons Of The Crew 2010-2011 Offseason (Part 1)



Since the Crew departed ways with their veteran core of Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Frankie Hejduk, Gino Padula, Duncan Oughton, and Brian Carroll; as well as contributors such as Steven Lenhart, Jason Garey, Adam Moffat, and Eric Brunner, the Crew have to rebuild (yes, it's a rebuild) fast to compete in 2011.

Here Crewture will take a look at some of the moves so far and rate them.


Move 1- Sebastian Miranda A captain for the last few years on the backline of Union Espana in Chile, the 30 something Miranda appears to be a strong acquisition at right back. Chile is an up and coming soccer nation, who did very well in South Africa in 2010.

The Crew also has recent good luck picking up solid Chilean defenders, as Chilean back Marcos Gonzalez was probably one of the best Crew players in 2006 and 2007. So, the Crew might have a connection in Chile that brings them sure things in defense.

Verdict: Miranda may be capable of playing as well or even better as a declining Hejduk. But, it will be hard for Miranda to match Hejduk being the heart and soul of the Crew. B+, the Crew are going to need a few more Miranda-like signings at CB and LB to be solid enough in the back in 2011.


Move 2- Trading Lenhart to move up in the draft for Justin Meram Just taking a look at the below video of Meram taking Penn State to the sword, I have to say I like the kid's footwork, determination, and powerful shot. I have a good feeling that this kid will be a good surprise for us. And the Crew are due for a surprise at striker, someone to say "I'm going to work hard, be dangerous, and try to score every game." Someone who is going to take that position and squeeze some actual success out of it, instead of mediocrity.

We all liked Lenhart, and Garey was a good person too. But, I agree on the Crew wanting a little more from their striker corps.

If Meram can do a little of this eventually in MLS for the black and yellow, it's more than just a little more:


Verdict: A+


Move 3- Signing Jeff Cunningham With the Crew cutting ties with all of their natural leaders in Guillermo, Frankie, Duncan, Gino, and Carroll, there was a big question of who is going to lead this team onto the field in 2011.

Cunningham has been labeled as being poisonous to a few locker rooms during his younger years. But, he has 182 Crew appearances and 62 goals for the club, he is a goal away from being the leading goalscorer in the history of MLS, he's got 15 caps to his name, and he's 34 and hence more mature than he used to be.

Cunningham is someone that if he spoke up, I could see nearly all Crew players listening too.

Further, he's not bad either in goalscoring as of late, Cunningham led MLS two seasons ago with 17 goals, and has 28 in the last two seasons. Cunningham's down season of 11 goals last year (compared to his 17 in 2009) still trumps all Crew striker's since Cunningham was last here in 2003.

Verdict: A- Don't think he will be a veteran leader like Guillermo and Frankie. Heck, he might not even be considered a leader since he hasn't been here since 2004. But, glad to have a veteran goalscorer on the team, especially if it came at the discounted salary that the Crew were offering Cunningham back in December.


Move 4- Trialists Hopefully were looking to sign some bigger names. All these trialists we are bringing in don't impress me at all.

Look at Toronto FC's list of trialists for their camp in Turkey.

If you're too lazy to click a link, here's a brief overview...
King Gyan Osei- Fulham product, 57 caps in Belgian First Division with Germinal Beerschot
Eddy Sidra- 56 Caps with Bundesliga II side Energie Cottbus, some at lower levels, some at top levels
Zavarese- With Super League Club in Greece, VFL Bochum Reserves
Javier Martina- 2 caps with Ajax
& then Bas Ent, Nick Sloosma, and a few others.

In comparison, we brought in Mark Blades, Caleb-Patterson Sewell, some Argentinian grade school player called Nery Bandiero, and Colts punter Pat McAfee for publicity/so the Dispatch could make fun of his public intoxication 20 times.

Verdict: Flat F, for now


Move 5- Andres Mendoza as a Designated Player Yes, that's right, the Crew might pay Mendoza $500,000 dollars in 2011 making Mendoza a DP. Last season Andres Mendoza made $216,000 dollars, contributing only 2 goals in 8 regular season games.

Mendoza did have more success in the Champions League putting in a few goals against weaker competition, as well as one goal against stronger competition in Mexican side Santos.

But, overall Mendoza didn't change many MLS games or make any difference in the finish of the Crew in 2010. Further, Mendoza missed three or four good chances to send the Crew into the next round of the playoffs against eventual champions, the Colorado Rapids.

Mendoza has also gained a tag of being lazy and lacking determination by some Crew fans. Nevertheless, he did show a few flashes, further the guy deserves a full season. But, does he deserve one at $500,000?

Some think the Crew would be better off combining Mendoza's salary with their allocation money to find an even better striker. That Mendoza is a little underwhelming as a DP signing and a new Crew needs a bigger jolt in this offseason of change.

Others may think, if Mendoza can score 13 goals in Mexico in 2008-2009, it wouldn't be a real shock if a slower and older Mendoza could score 13 goals in MLS three seasons later, because the Mexican Primera is still a better league.

Crew fans would kill for a striker to put in 13 goals in a season. The best we have had since 2003 is 10 goals in 2008 by Alejandro Moreno. So, I see the logic there.

If you put a possible 13 goals by Mendoza together with Cunningham's 28 goals in the last two seasons, Renteria's ability (I think he's always improving and could surprise someone with 10-15 goals), and Meram, and were looking better than Renteria, Garey, Lenhart, and Herrera at the start of last season.

So there are positives. Just with so many holes, it's quite a bet by the Crew to spend a DP slot on a striker that is just as much of a question mark (if not more of one) than the rest of the Crew's striker corps; As many Crew fans would see Renteria and Cunningham as more reliable players. So, Warzycha is betting all in on Mendoza, and Mendoza better come up a full house in 2011.

Verdict: C-, Remains to be seen. But, I think a player that didn't do much last season should keep the same salary, have a small decrease in salary, or a small bump (if his resume requires one, which is prob the case with Mendoza); Nevertheless, his salary shouldn't double.