Welcome to Crewture.

Which stands for Crew and Culture, and follows Crew supporter culture. Created around the Nordecke creation and used to follow the rise of the supporters section which is now 10 years old.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

3.26.2013: The Battle Away From Mediocrity, And Towards Greatness (3 Pts)

An examination of what Columbus may need to achieve to get back to this podium in 2013 and beyond.

3.26.2013: The Battle Away From Mediocrity, And Towards Greatness (3 Pts)

Ever since the Columbus Crew hoisted the MLS Cup trophy in late November of 08', with the team surrounding their three wise, talisman (with flowing locks); Frankie Hejduk, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, and Gino Padula.. And Alejandro Moreno, Brian Carroll, and Eddie Gaven contributed great moments and smiles. 

The Crew have been mediocre.
They have not been great, but they have not been bad.

Columbus has neither matched the futility of 2005 to 2007, nor has Columbus matched the level of brilliance either of 2008.

Since then Columbus has been better than okay; but, has lacked perhaps the cliched team identity or overall sense of purpose.

They have lacked the strength to make Columbus as tough as a place to play as it once was, but also have lacked the concentration to claw out wins away from Columbus as well. And most importantly, have lacked any sign of life in the playoffs.

But, the Crew have also continued to be strong at home under Rober Warzycha and have continued to be a playoff contender.

The Crew came out galloping in 2009, under first-year manager (long-time assistant)  Warzycha; but then plummeted the second-half of the season, holding onto a Supporters Shield by a whisker, and then blundered in the playoffs. 

There was an air of disappointment (as might be the case with almost anything that followed 2008), despite the added hardware .. But, that needs to be taken into account with everything before and after; as most Crew fans would've been joyful for a Supporters Shield in 2007. 

It should be taken into account as well that Schmid had his low years in Columbus before succeeding in 2008.

Since that first season in charge, Robert Warzycha's Columbus Crew (2009-2013) has at times played exciting, and at times have packed it in, and have had dull (but tough wins on the road). 

Warzycha has done enough (56-32-39 overall), playoffs 3 out of 4 seasons, for a small market club.

Done enough that Crew fans on Bigsoccer can put behind them the Fire Warzycha threads and perhaps rally around their manager in 2013.

But, he should do more to cement his position with the club, and will he do more in 2013?

Here's (3 pts) that could get the Crew back to greatness in 2013 (and beyond):

1.) Build A Core That Could Be Here In 2013 (And For Years To Come)

The Columbus Crew have done a good job at buying players (and keeping players) lately that will be capable of performing well for Columbus and content with staying with Columbus for years to come; either for career stability, a second chance at a starting role in MLS, a situation where they can be happy with their soccer, or fulfilling a dream of playing for your hometown club.

Eddie Gaven, Chad Marshall, Danny O'Rourke, and Andy Greunebaum have stayed with Columbus for years, and can continue to be here for years because they have career stability with Columbus.. Why go to a NYRB where you'll be valued less, or overseas where you can sit on a subs bench and might not get a chance? Columbus has become their home, or for some players like O'Rourke, Speas, Trapp, and Barson has always been.

Other players that have found themselves undervalued with different clubs in MLS, have reinvigorated themselves with Columbus in 2013. 

Tyson Wahl has started all four games and has an assist in 2013 with Columbus, and Dominic Oduro has also started all four and has a goal. Total the duo started 36 games last season, if things stay true to form for them in 2013 they could have 68 between them. Keeping both beyond this year would be nice if that becomes the case.

In another category, internationals that have had some success overseas, but have come to Columbus and (maybe because of less pressure) have enjoyed their soccer more and have performed better, would find it hard to leave again and go back to less productivity and goals in their home country. Jairo Arrieta and Federico Higuain would fit into this mold. 

Hometown signings also would probably like to have some success with Columbus before going anywhere else. 

Speas has been a revelation; looking solid in his 3 games that he has started in 2013, scoring a game winner this past weekend against D.C.; Others such as Wil Trapp, Chad Barson, and Matt Lampson might play a future role down the road.

Finally, new internationals like Viana and Glauber (and perhaps Sanchez) have to be a success and stay here a while. Viana has had the easiest transition and has been the biggest surprise. But, overall Columbus can't cycle in 5 new internationals every off-season and hope to be a success.

That goes for all the above categories. 

If Warzycha wants to win trophies this year and for years to come, he is going to have to keep a 16 to 20 player core here, every season, that is good enough to perform well for Columbus,  if he can help it.. 

There will always be a few new faces,  but let's keep it to every off-season via the draft and maybe a new international every once in a while to get the fans stirring.

2.) Play Front-Foot Forward Not Only At Home, But On The Road

I like how Columbus possessed and controlled most of the game at D.C. United.

I also like how Warzycha was cracking jokes and enjoying the team huddle with the Crew players, before they ran out on the field. 

Saturday for Columbus was a very confident performance where they stated, "you know, we think we can out possess and take the game to you, on your home field."

Warzycha has won in the past on the road, with more of a bunker mentality. For example, last season against Seattle. And at times might not be able to avoid that approach entirely.

But, I like when Columbus plays more carefree and pushes up, because their defense may be good enough now to compensate. 

Also, our defense is very tall and when Williams, Wahl, Marshall, Glauber, Oduro, etc. get into the attack and are running into the box in a dead ball stituation, I think to myself almost every time, someone is going to get on the end of this; Especially got that feeling against D.C. United.

And it seems to be the case so far, and eventually it may lead to one set piece goal a game (it has been the case in 3 out of 4 games in 2013).

The more goals from set pieces, the farther Columbus will climb in 2013. The more that the offense will go back and play defense, the farther they will climb. The more they move as a unit, the farther they will climb.

And the ability on the road (like against Chivas and D.C. United) to take the game to them and get the 3 points, the farther the Crew will go up the standings; the farther they will go in the playoffs.

This team should be good enough possession-wise to take risks not only at home, but on the road. Sure, it perhaps isn't and can't be for a full 90, but controlling most of the tempo and possession seems to be a capability of Columbus now (hopefully).

3.) Win At Home, All The Time Has To Continue, Improve

Winning at home, all the time was a source of pride for the 2008 MLS Cup winners, that they could not lose at home.

And then the fans (The Nordecke especially) built off of that, and attempted to make it an intimidating place every week. 

This continued into 2009 with 9 wins, 4 draws, and 1 loss at home. 

But, an ever revolving door, that wasn't as aware of what it means to play for Columbus and to win at home, and more restrictions in the Nordecke I believe have been a two part combo that has changed the difficulty level of winning at CCS (from impossible to depends on everyone's mood).

Now Columbus hasn't been bad at home lately, but rather quite the contrary; as since 2008, the Columbus Crew have been one of the best team's overall at home at 47-16-12.

10-2-2 in 2008
9-4-1 in 2009
9-2-3 in 2010
9-5-3 in 2011 and
10-3-3 in 2012

The most points they left on the board at home were in 2011, tying 5 and losing 3 (19 points lost), but winning 9 (27 gained). They tied 3 last year and lost 3 (15 lost), but won 10 (30 points gained).

The Crew in 2013 have one draw at home against San Jose, they need to keep a solid record at home in 2013 starting with the Philadelphia Union on April 6th, and translate that more to a solid routine on the road.

So far, on the road, in 2013 it has been good for Columbus. The Crew have 2 wins on the road out of 3 games, last year they only had 4 total wins on the road.

Therefore, overall, if Columbus can emphasize getting maximum points at home and improving their away performances (by taking it to teams they think they can take it to on the road) big things may be in store in 2013.

And beyond, if Columbus can keep a core of players, playing good, in black and yellow.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

3.24.2013: Oduro and Higuain Most Effective Combination?

Dom might be the ehh signing, that ends up being the difference signing!

I like Arrieta.. 

 But when Oduro plays up top, with Higuain sneaking up behind.. Oduro stretches so much field and then Higuain is an expert at picking out those spaces behind, how can you not start the same lineup next time out? 

 An Oduro one time shot off of Higuain's deft chip late in the second half would of been a goal nine times out of ten.. Oduro has been a hell of a signing up top, like it or not him and Higuain might just be the most effective combination.. Like a tall forward with a short fast forward milling around, they just fit together. 

 This win isn't getting enough credit right now by Crew fans. DC was 19 unbeaten, your looking at a Crew side that is tough. And Speas was phenomenal, he is surprising the crap out of me.


3.24.2013: Speasey Making It Look Easy

Ben Speas is showing why he was worth the homegrown tag in his second year with the Columbus Crew.

The sophomore MLS player came out and played confidently, Speas is a man that is going to make the wing his opposite Eddie Gaven.

You can now see why Speas was angry for not getting more minutes last season, his game winner was well deserved and he threatened Bill Hamid's goal at least five more times.

Check out his game winner:

3.24.2013: Greunebaum Is A F'ing Legend

Can you say whatt? Andy Greunebaum showing why he is number one for the massive club, can you believe this save?

That defense, at DC United, breaking a 19 game undefeated streak at home... Early indications of a playoff side.. That was not easy

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

3.12.2013: Wil Trapp Back In The Mix After Successful U-20 Tournament, Could He Be The Answer In Central Midfield?

3.12.2013: Wil Trapp Back In The Mix After Successful U-20 Tournament, Could He Be The Answer In Central Midfield?

Could Wil Trapp be the answer in central, defensive midfield for the Columbus Crew?

It appears that Sanchez's slow start with Columbus (only 20 uninspiring minutes for the former Argentinue U-20 national) have some wondering if he is going to be a bust?

While others are worried that Crew veteran Danny O'Rourke hasn't looked that impressive in central, defensive midfield either this year. Although the reviews have been mixed.

Tony Tchani has never been that great or that bad, just inconsistent. 

Which may open the door for Wil Trapp, who was a top performer in the U-20 Concacaf Tournament for the United States this past week in Mexico.  And may also open the door for Kevan George as well.

The fact is that so far only Agustin Viana has made a real claim for one of those two central, defensive midfield positions.

The door is open for everyone else...

And it appears that Manager Robert Warzycha and Technical Director Brian Bliss back Trapp's ability to make a run at a starting spot.
"He's a good player. He's going to find his way onto the field. Sooner or later you're going to see him." -Warzycha
Bliss believes it won't be a long wait for the young player's MLS debut, adding, "It will be tough for him, but Wil's proven in the past he's up to the task and he won't be deterred."

3.12.2013: Is Matias Sanchez, Sergio Herrera 2.0? For One, I Hope He Gets A Chance

"Why yes your a very good signing to sit on our bench."

3.12.2013: Is Matias Sanchez, Sergio Herrera 2.0? For One, I Hope He Gets A Chance
By Ryan Kozlowski

Sergio Herrera signed with the Columbus Crew on February 6th, 2010. Crew fans hit the message boards in jubilee that Warzycha had finally found his man up top. Warzycha was pumped for his new Colombian international:
"a proven goal scorer who has represented his country at the international level, and we are looking forward to integrating him into our team."- Warzycha stated on Feb 6th, 2010 onhttp://www.examiner.com/article/colombian-forward-sergio-herrera-joins-columbus-crew
Or not, just months later:
"The other players are playing better than him," coach Robert Warzycha said. "That is the deal. If he plays better, he will be on the field. If he doesn't, he won't."-On May 10th 2010 from: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/sports/2010/05/14/herrera-makes-the-most-of-chance.html
The new striker, Herrera, making top MLS dollar in Columbus never got his chance with the Crew.

He did set one Crew record, yet a dubious one.. The least amount of official minutes of any player in Columbus Crew history, one official minute (plus stoppage time).

In that stoppage time, Herrera played a major role in a Crew game winner though, working the ball with his teammates and crashing the net, which allowed Robbie Rogers to pounce on a game winner against the New England Revolution. The Herrera inspired game winner improved the club to (3-0-2) in that early part of the 2010 season.

Herrera then went on to never play another minute for Columbus..

Soon after Sergio Herrera transferred to Deportivo Tachara of Venezuela, scoring 27 goals in 56 appearances. In contrast, Renteria only had 9 in his last 53 appearances in Venezuela's top flight.

A little food for thought, despite tripling Renteria's goal total in Venezuela, Herrera could only get 5 minutes in Columbus compared to Renteria's 70 plus appearances.

So, would it have killed Warzycha to give his signing at the time, Herrera, a couple of games?

Sure, he couldn't of known Herrera was going to light it up once again with his next club, but was Garey, Lenhart, or Renteria that much of a overwhelming advantage at the time?

No probably not. But, The thing is Warzycha doesn't approve of lazy practice players.

Warzycha once asked Sigi Schmid if he was "sure of Schelotto" because Schelotto didn't practice hard (when he first arrived in Columbus). But, there was no sitting of Schelotto, his legend had already grew too big for the bench in Columbus.

Especially after Warzycha took over as manager.

And Schelotto brought it in games, no matter who the Columbus manager was.

But, what becomes of Matias Sanchez? He's at an interesting point in his time with Columbus. 

He can either become a solid starter and perhaps reverse his falling star, or he can go the way of Sergio Herrera.

Like Herrera, Warzycha and Bliss made a big deal out of Sanchez and sung his praises. But, some Crew fans, by now, would of expected Sanchez to be closer to a starting spot. 

Which are currently being held by Viana and O'Rourke.

Viana has been the best of the four DM's this season, while O'Rourke hasn't had a great start, Tchani has been his usual "okay", and Sanchez hasn't defined himself in his 20 minutes from the first two games (all in the second game vs. Vancouver). 

Now Sanchez has already well eclipsed Herrera's one minute. But, Crew fans weren't overwhelmed by his twenty.

So the Sanchez bandwagon fell apart.

Another fan's response:I know... that's what everyone was clamoring for? I mean, not that 20 minutes (or whatever) should define someone, but...

Hopefully, Sanchez gets a chance to prove himself well beyond twenty minutes (whether he goes hard in practice or not), because he's perhaps the only player that can provide that link up with the offense, from DM, out of the current options we got. 

It may just be an issue of full game fitness right now for Sanchez, but I hope it works out.

It would be a surprise for a former Argentina U-20 star to completely fail and drop off the map..

But, it's early yet, I would like to see Sanchez at least get a full game or two. Let's hope he doesn't fall into the category of some players who can't grasp onto any opportunity (see Freddy Adu).

3.12.2013: Hejduk's Role Of Brand Ambassador Is An Interesting, Necessary Scenario

Frankie on High St. - Photo by Columbus Underground

3.12.2013: Hejduk's Role Of Brand Ambassador Is An Interesting, Necessary Scenario
By Ryan Kozlowski (Crewture.com)

This was the Frankie Hejduk I was used to:

Glistening with sweat after another defensive shutout, high-fiving, borrowing a swig of beer, and posing with the Nordecke after another home win. Battling for the Columbus Crew on the field.

Last year, when I went to the rivalry game between the Columbus Crew and the Chicago Fire, I was introduced to another Frankie Hejduk; A Frankie Hejduk that wanted to destroy the Chicago Fire, well.... a painted Chicago Fire minivan with a hammer.

While most fans went nuts, I was equal parts amused and confused. Frankie Hejduk is now the Brand Ambassador, doesn't he have to do professional things? Wear a suit or something?

Isn't this above his time? Or wait, is the new job of the brand ambassador to artificially destroy other teams brands painted on cars? :-) This has to be some kind of joke "job" right?

My confusion was enhanced because the last time I saw Hejduk, in person, was as a player. 

He was the face of the Columbus Crew franchise. In 7 years, he had over 150 appearances with the club, and finished off the New York Red Bulls in the 2008 final by dispatching Schelotto's chip.

But, now he's smashing stuff to make drunk, perhaps easily amused, Crew fans happy.

My first thought was, sounds like an easy enough job. My second thought was, he had no bodyguards or Crew staff really around him? He is just a fan now. 

This isn't a bad thing. I perked up, starting cheering, and grabbed a beer. 

One of Hejduk's roles as brand ambassador crept up on me, without me knowing, keep current Crew fans entertained and happy.

And of course Frankie grabbed a beer too.

This role would only work for Frankie Hejduk though. 

For most former players it would be an impossible transition. 

Going from what Hejduk achieved as a player (for example in the below image), to  smashing windows in to get fans pumped up or, after it becomes a requirement, doing many other things in the community.

That dedication to a team, a city, and a brand isn't normal for most players, in any professional sport. Being the guy that will do anything to attract fans and investors, isn't usually a role for a player.

But, that's what makes Hejduk different. Just because Frankie was a world class soccer player, with 85 national team appearances, Hejduk was never better than anyone or above doing anything to promote Columbus, both as a player and now.

The guy was a great representative for the Crew as a player and now the dude has a 'one-of-a kind' job as the brand ambassador for the Columbus Crew.

The following Columbus Dispatch article hits those points, and his roles (or different shoes) he wears as Crew Brand Ambassador:
His suede dress pair works well for meetings with corporate partners. His Nike soccer shoes come in handy for impromptu games at central Ohio schools. And his black Converse sneakers are suited to hanging out at a bar with friends and fans alike.
It's just more than likely that Hejduk's personality will resonate with anyone. 

Whether he's trying to resonate to perspective corporate partners that the Columbus Crew is a cool investment; that kids got to hang out with this cool former Columbus Crew player and maybe it would be a cool outing for the family to check out the Crew game; or Hejduk, at OSU, playing soccer tennis and resonating that maybe going to a Crew game will be a cool thing to do on a Saturday afternoon for a college kid (perhaps instead of getting plastered on a Saturday night).

It works... Perhaps slowly, but better than some (perhaps annoying and uninspired) unknown person talking to you over the phone.

Yet, it can't be an easy job when your always out in the public and on stage. Frankie Hejduk always needs to be on and always needs to make an impression in the community. Anyone that has worked with the public on a daily basis knows that always having to make an impression, can be exhausting at times.

For most normal people, at times you don't want to talk to anyone, deal with stupid questions, and etc.

But, Frankie Hejduk embraces the role and is the only person in the organization that could do this and pull it off.

For example, could you imagine Mark McCullers, Robert Warzycha, Brian Bliss, Eddie Gaven, or Federico Higuain smashing cars or doing any of the following and getting the same reaction:

Frankie Hejduk just doesn't know an awkward moment (or as The Dispatch said, "a stranger"), he's the guy everyone wants to hang out with.

So, for the Crew front office he would be like the cooler, older brother that asks the hot girl (be it in this elaborate metaphor- corporate partners, osu college kids, etc) out on the date with the brother that's often ignored.

And once they get in the door, even if unsure (cause of course the rest of the show can't be as fun as Hejduk). Perhaps down in the Nordecke, they change their tune. 

Especially when they hear the we love ya pick up and hear the noise, and maybe it turns into a long lasting relationship, another season ticket holder, or a long term investor.

Therefore, if Columbus is ever going to hit their 10 K season tickets goal, Hejduk is going to be doing a lot "more than (McCullers) expected."

And really Columbus may need two or three Hejduk clones.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

3.4.2013: El Chelis Exclusive Interview After Crew Defeat

I like my coffee, like my women. 

 3.4.2013: El Chelis Exclusive Interview After Crew Defeat 

 Here's a translation of El Chelis's interview after a 3-0 humiliation at the hands of the Columbus Crew last night at The Home Depot Center: 

 If your perplexed by the daughter references, just check out this awkward interview as El Chelis goes with the oddest of metaphors for Mexican-American players not playing for Chivas USA:

Disclaimer: If you didn't realize that was a joke translation. It's only in good humor, the Chivas USA trainwreck amuses me. I'll have ratings and some more on the Crew's impressive opener tomorrow.