Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Crew Waive Three, Perry Video Clip

By noon on Wednesday, June 27th, the first day of the summer transfer window, three players were waived by the Columbus Crew: Shaun Francis, Korey Veeder and Aubrey Perry.

Before June 27th, as I understand it, the Crew were one over their allotted 8 international slots available to them and one player above the 30 club players allowed, so with the Shaun Francis move they drop back even on both accounts*.

This doesn't mean that Columbus is locked out of signing another international player as Major League Soccer allows teams to treat International Slots as a commodity.

A closer look at the players let go today:

20 Years Old, $45k salary... saw mostly "reserve team" time with Columbus. I've seen him play a few times... (here's a post where I called him a, well, um... "dick" during a preseason game interchange he had with Tommy Heinemann. I'm working on my language here, promise). He's aggressive and at 5'11" has size to make him an asset at youth levels (has played in U20 USMNT levels). He needs someone to teach him a specific position. Mildly surprised the Crew let him go but considering the gaps the team needs to fill, it makes sense.

25 years old, $45k salary... regularly in the top 18 for the Columbus Crew. He's a 6'0" left footed back. He's got decent speed but too thin to play in Major League Soccer but does have a good eye for the game. Were he not taking up an International Slot on the Crew he would probably still be here. He managed to play to the moment and as such contributed to 3 goals for the Crew this year. The other players like him, good teammate. I expect him to get picked up.

21 years old, $34k salary... believe it or not, Aubrey was the player I was most impressed with out of these three the Crew let go. I got to see him in a couple scrimmages and a Reserve game against the New England Revs. He might have pressed a bit but there was no denying his effort. His speed and crosses seemed above average. Not sure what happened here with him. Why so little time with a kid who had the tools to replace Miranda? Regardless. I think Perry has talent at the Right Back spot.

Below is a video I took during the NE Revs v. Crew Reserve team match on June 10th, 2012 (it features Aubrey Perry as Crew RB, in yellow).

I think the Columbus Crew gets MLS Corporate off their back by dropping these guys more than anything else. I've read that these moves were to free up whatever is needed to sign a Designated Player but I don't necessarily believe it. People tend to do only what they have to. In this case, the Crew were over staffed in total roster and international spots.

In doing what they did today they alleviate both problems and put themselves in position to make a couple moves early in the transaction window.

Nothing more, nothing less.

* Patrick Guldan (Fox Sports Ohio, Massive Report) has informed me that the Crew do have an open International Slot while Adam Jardy (Columbus Dispatch) reported they are all full.

[UPDATE: JUNE 28 2012]: Columbus Crew GM, Mark McCullers said on the team website: “We want to prepare ourselves, we need to make these decisions now. We’re setting the roster up for the likelihood we’ll get something done.” The something, McCullers goes on to say, is a high profile signing / possible Designated Player.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

MLS Power Groupings

Now that Major League Soccer nearly to the season halfway point we can start trusting the combined league true table to tell us who are the best teams over prognosticate "power rankings".

Even with an unbalanced schedule, any advantages earned early on in the year will've washed out by now (or, they will soon).

This week I'll just go down the table by Points Earned per Game, subtract the the team above from the one below and separate the clubs into groups whenever I see a significant jump between two teams on the true table (above right, in margin).

Example: Seattle is earning 1.56 Points per Game (PPG) and the team behind them (Columbus) is earning 1.36. A difference of -0.21 PPG.

The number to the left is the PPG difference between that club and the one above it.

San Jose

-0.13 : Sporting KC
-0.05 : Real Salt Lake
-0.01 : New York

-0.11 : D.C.

-0.14 : Vancouver
-0.02 : Chicago
-0.04 : Seattle

-0.21 : Columbus
-0.02 : Houston
-0.07 : Colorado
-0.02 : Los Angeles
-0.05 : New England
-0.01 : Chivas USA
-0.04 : Portland
-0.02 : Montreal

-0.28 : Philadelphia
-0.02 : FC Dallas
-0.44 : Toronto FC

Looking at it this way tells us that what is happening is exactly what the league wants. The largest group, IN THE MIXER, are all teams similar in strength right now.

A couple obvious notables here are Seattle's glorious fall and LA's sudden re-interest in playing well. It's important to remember that any significant movement in the league table after this point is/will be do to outside factors/influencers. Like: change in or poor leadership, more home games, improved or poor player attitudes, shoddy or league influenced officiating, etc...

That said, what you are looking at in the true table right now at top 4 or 5 and the bottom 4-5 is basically how things will finish up. It'll be left up to the middling clubs to bounce around and provide excitement.

Columbus has a tough group of games coming up that will probably keep them "in the mixer". They take on Salt Lake this weekend at home then travel to Montreal (in their new place) and then travel once again to KC to their new-ish place.

If there ever was a chance for Columbus to prove me wrong and do something special, these next three games would be it!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Crew Rd. 14, Lost (in CHI)

A critical loss in Chicago last night for the Columbus Crew that may end up having important playoff ramifications as the Eastern Conference race heats up.

Right off the first whistle the Chicago Fire took advantage of an odd and disjointed Crew starting 11 by scoring two goals in the first 26 minutes.

The game wasn't much of a contest until the Fire went down a man around the half hour mark as Gonzalo Segares recklessly tackled Kevan George. Moments later, with a man advantage, Tony Tchani pounced into the box and whipped a low curving blast past the otherwise solid Fire keeper.

Chicago spent the remainder of the half playing as if the game were 11 on 11. Often creating dangerous chances and trying to catch a desperate Crew side on a break.

Frank Klopas came out of the halftime break confident and continued to play the Crew as if evenly staffed but as the half wore on and Columbus started inserting fresh legs, he settled back.

The Crew generated more than enough chances to pull this one back even but it just didn't happen. When the game ended it seemed as though this was a very comfortable win for the shorthanded Fire.


The Crew are four months into the season, playing a Eastern Conf rival and Robert Warzycha starts two 2012 first timers last night in Chris Birchall and Julius James. Birchall, just back in the country after his wedding in England, previously had only seen 24 minutes this year in league play and James has only seen action during the US Open Cup match where he was embarrassed twice for goals as the Dayton Dutch Lions marched to victory.

To add to the disjointedness of this line up, Columbus also subbed in a couple guys who haven't seen much action in the last (6 game unbeaten) month in Aaron Schoenfeld and Olman Vargas.

Cole Grossman and Eric Gehrig, two instrumental players that have contributed to the previous six unbeaten games, sat on the bench. Benardo Anor, another important piece, didn't even crack the top 18.

Just got myself all worked up after writing about that lineup stuff and I'm not even getting to Birchall playing advanced. What the hell, man.

Eric is contributing to success on this team in a big way. He stays healthy, is a team player and earns positive results when he plays. He also gels perfectly with Josh Williams.

Personally, I was heartbroken that Gehrig didn't get out there to play. Outside of the reasons I just gave, I know that he is from the Chicago area as well.

I understand the leadership tactic Warzycha is employing with his players and it worries me. It's a negative technique that keeps poor managers in control over their group but it harms overall productivity. It'll also alienate the manager from his peers. This is a train you can seen coming from miles away and it is unfortunately manifesting itself in the steady erosion of year over year key performance metrics.

As in, Asshole for not playing Gehrig.

Yet again, for Robert Warzycha, it's the shitty lineup selection that was the reason the Crew couldn't keep up with 10 man Chicago Fire side. It's a problem that has been following Warzycha since he started and needs to improve because as the Crew sit they are in a knockdown, drag out battle for that last playoff spot.

Friday, June 22, 2012

All USA All Star Club

Just like any other 3rd tier soccer nation we have an exhibition game where we invite a well respected club from England or Europe to play the best players our domestic league has to offer.

In the United States we have Major League Soccer's best - taking on the mighty some-such from west-ish London-like.

Funny how Major League Soccer clubs like to pump their teams full of discounted Central and South American players yet invite a club from across the Atlantic to come over for the marquee exhibition of the summer.

There is a metaphor in here somewhere that involves the wealthy, visiting friends, their homes and the people that landscape their yards... but I digress and will go with the fact that it reminds me of why I know the proper way to place and use utensils; "In case the Queen visits," I was told.

Taking that unwritten metaphor and proper use of utensils into account, the 2012 MLS All-Star game format could be seen as all mixed up in a strange way... and maybe it should. After all, this is the melting pot of the world (to be said whimsically while imagining the Statue of Liberty). Also the home of Hollywood (to be said in a Samuel L. Jackson kinda way).

With that.

Let's break down MLS Allstar contenders by YTD form and by US born.

(Home State, Team)

GK: Ryan Meara (NY, NYRB)

D: Chance Myers (CA, KC)
D: Stevan Beitashour (CA, SJ)
D: Justin Morrow (OH, SJ)
D: Tony Bletran (CA, RSL)

MF: Graham Zusi (FL, KC)
MF: Kyle Beckerman (MD, RSL)
MF: Dax McCarty (FL, NYRB)
MF: Eddie Gaven (NJ, CREW)

F: Chris Wondolowski (CA, SJ)
F: Kenny Cooper (MD, NYRB)

Subs: Brandon McDonald (D, Arizona, DC), Daniel Woolard (D, Texas, DC), Will Bruin (F, Missouri, HOU), C.J. Sapong (F, Virginia, SKC), Matt Besler (D, Kansas, SKC), Nick Rimando (GK, California, RSL)

Do I think the HELLTOWN BEER ALL STAR TEAM could take the (mostly playing internationally) USMNT players to the limit? Yes, but it is beside the point because it would be much more interesting to see US born MLS players take on foreign born league players in a summer allstar like exhibition. Who would that be? And... how great would that be?

GK: Jimmy Nielsen (Denmark, KC)

D: Aurelien Collin (France, KC)
D: Markus Holgersson (Sweden, NY)
D: Young-Pyo Lee (S. Korea, VAN)
D: Jamison Olave (Colombia, RSL)

MF: Dwayne De Rosario (Canada, DC)
MF: Kei Kamara (Sierra Leone, KC)
MF: Roger Espinoza (Honduras, KC)
MF: Dane Richards (Jamaica, NY)

F: Fredy Montero (Colombia, SEA)
F: Sebastien Le Toux (France, VAN)

Fire up that FIFA 12, it's going to be a battle!

I'm not big on the idea of an All-Star game in soccer but the excitement generated by the voting makes it an undeniable event for the league. Part of me thinks it's very American to want an All-Star game. We want to see the best, playing the best.

However, the other - more American - side of the country would probably be outraged if they realized that inviting a Premier League over to play a ham-fisted collection of above average soccer players is the same thing we see in other "Developing Soccer Nations".

Here is the recap to Chelsea's tune up match against the Thailand All Stars last summer, Americans. LINK

These lists are put together using my own MLS player rating system. As the year progresses, I cumulatively and frequently rate every player who has seen minutes in the league. My player ratings are always and all ways available (along with player stats) on the top right hand column of this page. None of my formulas on how the players got that score are in that sheet, mind you.

If you have questions about my rating system you can email me at ljbaby654(at)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Crew Center Back Improvement Over 2011

Short on time this week because of a move back to German Village from the Brewery District which, somehow, has meant a crossing of High Street twice in the past five years. As we ponder that fact, let us take a look at this year's league table and compare it to last year as it pertains to the Columbus Crew (note: I am using per game point averages in League and Conf positions to account for the discrepancy in games played).

8th: Last Year
9th: This Year

3rd: 2011
5th: 2012

15th: 2011
14th: 2012

11th: 2011
8th: 2012

9th: 2011
3rd: 2012

We'll stop on this last one because the difference is significant. Warzycha's teams are already known for being stingy but this year they have allowed 2 less goals in the same number of games. That doesn't seem like a whole lot but consider this: goals are up nearly 10% this year in Major League Soccer. Columbus has CUT goals against by 13% (a 23pt swing against the league).

12 of the 18 clubs are allowing more goals than last year. An already stingy 2011 Columbus is made the 6th best improvement in Goals Against (KC, DC, VAN, POR, CHI better GA improvement, in that order) in 2012. This is something the team should be applauded for, absolutely.

Peeling back one more layer to see what might be contributing to this improvement, let's take a look at the Center Back pairings this year.

# of Starts Together : Names
3 : Marshall / Gehrig
2 : Marshall/Williams
2 : Marshall/O'Rourke
2 : Williams/Gehrig
2 : Williams/Mendes/Gehrig
2 : Williams/Mendes

Nothing in that. 13 Crew games and 6 different CB pairings. It's been by committee, right? Not really.

Marshall has the most starts at CB with 8 this year, Williams has 7, Gehrig at 5 (counting his half game subs of Mendes), followed by Mendes and O'Rourke at 2.

Marshall has 2 Wins, 2 Draws, 3 Loss. Williams is at 3 Wins, 3 Draws, 1 Loss... and Gehrig is at 3W-2D-2L.

You have to wonder if the loss of Chad Marshall's wing man (Julius James) hurt this team early on but it's hard not to point to last year and say that while Marshall and James were good, yes... but Williams / O'Rourke / Gehrig / Mendes are performing just as good, if not better.

-------------------- least to this point in the season. Long and Hot summer to work through. Gruenebuam has had a lot to do with the Goals Against improvement as well. Important to remember that Hesmer was no slouch either.

Back to moving...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Crew Rd. 13, Draw Three Things

Gillette Stadium is cursed... CURSED I TELL YOU, for removing natural grass a half decade ago. Now that it's fake and plastic the Patriots can't win the SuperbOwl and the poor Revs and fans have to put up with bad camera angles and half way erased football markings.

Same as the last part of "ONE:" the camera angle is for NFL action and not soccer. Which leads me to...

Fox Sports Ohio needs to send their folks (Dwight Burgess and Duncan Oughton) to these away games so they can call them live. Burgess already has a hard time reading the game in person (taking in to account endless plugs he has to do during live play) let alone trying to call it from a TV screen. The bad angle only exasperated the problem as Burgess, on a few occasions, went on about how crowded the far side of the pitch was.

Was much more exciting than the...


• Hard to appropriately comment on this game. The TV angle was horrible and the guys calling it weren't there and were watching the same thing I was. I seem to remember that the Ohio News Network (ONN) sent Burgess and Oughton to away games. It may have been standard definition but at least their call was informed.

• Here is what I could extrapolate from what I saw:

• Milovan Mirosevic had his best half of the year. His 1st 45 were excellent. 2nd half not so much. Either he is not fit or he just didn't care. Both equally criminal in my book (granted, it's a very large book with lots of pictures and it is called the SOCCRONOMICON).

• Kevan George finally had an iffy game. I like this kid so far though. Sometimes having a bad game is good, especially if your bad isn't that bad. SEE: Plate XIV. Page 1138 of the SOCCRONOMICON.

• Tony Tchani is getting better but I don't see positive attacking contributions yet.

• At this point I'd rather see Eric Gehrig just start -- even over a healthy Julius James and Carlos Mendez. Gehrig had a great 2nd half after coming on as a sub. His feet are looking better too.

• Andy Gruenebaum, Josh Williams, Eddie Gaven and Justin Meram were the bright spots along with Gehrig.

• A clean sheet draw on the road is fine. On to the next one.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Crew v. Revs, Predictions

WV Hooligan, and have thrown out predictions for today's Crew game. Let's take a look:

WV Hooligan, Drew Epperley

If the Revs can dictate the pace of this game from the opening kick – they could get the three points. Columbus on the other hand was red hot before the two week break. Something will have to give in this one, and while I like the Crew a little more right now than the Revs, this one just screams a draw., Keith Hickey

MLS Soccer's "Pick 'Em" people all picked New England to win, save for one (they did not provide scores):

Picked NE Revs to Win:
Greg Lalas (Editor-In-Chief), Jonah Freedman (Managing Editor), Nick Firchau (Senior Editor), Matt Doyle (Armchair Analyst), Jason Saghini (Director of Video).

Called for Draw:
Andrew Wiebe (Editor)

General consensus is that New England has the edge (game is in NE). Even local beat writer for the Crew, Adam Jardy, has a hard time bringing himself to say the Crew will pull this one out;

"...the team that can get its footing early and take advantage of the other's mistakes will collect three points."

I tend to think statements like that aren't exuding confidence in the team's chances tonight.

I think the Crew have the talent to run away this one if players are used well. Looks like Vargas and Renteria are being pegged to start, though. Not a combo that has had success.

It would be true to form if Warzycha starts Vargas even though he has been away on international duty. Not playing, practicing or developing with the rest of the team seems to earn you starting spots these days.

Prediction: NE win or draw if Vargas and Renteria are up top. Crew win if Renteria is alone up top and Anor, Meram and Gaven slide behind him.

It would be insane not to start Meram and Renteria, by the way.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dilly Duka, Void

This illustration is sort of what happens when you try and take on a post about the Columbus Crew's Dilly Duka. Nothing to latch on to with this guy.

One thing to comment on is his contract. It's a little wonky. Let me 'splain.

I had the pleasure of meeting David Burgin (of Global Football Today) recently and he raised some interesting questions about the difference between Duka's Base Salary and his Guaranteed. Same thing as with Tony Tchani's contract.

Why the large discrepancy betwixt "base" and "guaranteed" with these two? Is it performance related? Or is it, as Burgin thinks, tied to playing time. If so, are we seeing a couple players getting more starting minutes solely based on contract stipulations and/or requirements?

How about we look at these two Crew players in relationship to the rest of the league. Below are are the Major League Soccer Players that stand to double (2x) their listed base salary* in guaranteed monies. In other words, these are the contracts with the biggest difference between base and guaranteed in the league!

Team : Name
POR : Darlington Nagbe (2.5x)
CLB : Dilly Duka (2.2x)
NER : Kelyn Rowe (2.1x)
MTL : Andrew Wenger (2.0x)
DCU : Perry Kitchen (2.0x)
CLB : Tony Tchani (2.0x)
SKC : Teal Bunbury (1.9x)
CHV : Laurent Courtois (1.9x)

Wow, talented players there. It's predictable that MLS has tagged these players as "hot" and have negotiated contracts as such. I would much rather a broader market determine the worth of these players and not single entity like corporation. It is what it is though.

Interesting that Columbus has two players in the top 8 here. I personally think that the Crew org. went after Generation Adidas players in order to navigate waters below the cap as long as they could. Both Duka and Tchani declared their graduation last year though and thus have thrust their base salaries on the 2012 cap.

Overall the Crew is 13th in league Base Salary. 12th in Guaranteed. They are as about as average as you get when looking at this salary stuff. Remember all that mess about being the lowest paid team in major league whatevers? Yeah, the Crew are fine now. A lot of that had to do with timing and << shocker >> bad data.

Chicago, New Englend, Kansas City, Houston, Chivas and Montreal all have lower base salaries than the Crew right now.

Stepping back now, in early June, Columbus is just in the middle in everything. Regardless of whether Dilly Duka and Tony Tchani do well... it looks like it'll be just fine for the club, in relationship to the rest of the league. Just a matter how how much Mark McCullers, Brian Bliss, Lapper, Iribarren, and Warzycha think these guys matter. Contract or not.

Questions will linger about whether or not Duka and Tchani are playing based on current form and playing level, though. You can be the judge. Tchani or Duka making a mysterious start out of nowhere is more than likely contract related.

*I'm only using what MLS Player's Union has publically provided in terms of contract data. I consider it reliable (at this time).

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

1st 3rd of Season Crew Player Grades

Here are some general grades for Crew players with a quick note on each player. Only 1/3 of the way through the 2012 season, long way to go.

These might look a little different in that they grade contribution to the team and not just performance. Example; Aubrey Perry is doing his job in his role. Staying healthy, practicing, and playing with the Reserve team. All good things for the team.

I'm not going to give points for expected potential or high ceilings that are not currently being reached. It's also the job of an athlete to stay healthy and health/durability should always be part of the overall players portfolio. Perhaps it's a harsh assessment, but it is a honest one.

Whether or not the team is doing a good job at recognizing and treating is another conversation.

I'll take a look at this again later in the year. Again, this isn't how good I think a player is... it is how well I believe they are performing their job based on what I've seen, read and heard about the player.

This is a quick assessment so there is nothing scientific about this (I have plenty of that to come, trust me). Think of it of a mid semester evaluation for a class that only requires you write a one page paper at the end of the year.

The plus (+) after a letter just means I think they will move up letter grades as the year moves on.

Josh Williams
Out performing all expectations at senior level

Eddie Gaven
Having an excellent year

Andy Gruenebaum
Performing as well as any top GK in MLS
Justin Meram
Recovered from injury, was patient, performed well

Cole Grossman
Doing all that is asked at high level

Nemanja Vukovic
Staying healthy, passionate and hungry
Eric Gehrig
100% effort and staying healthy

Aubrey Perry
Fulfilling duty at reserve team level, shows good talent, healthy

Kevan George
Playing well at senior level, doing what is asked, savvy

Bernardo Anor
Playing well and staying healthy. Having a good year and showing improvement

Aaron Horton
Doing what is asked, traveled out on loan and on the Reserve team, healthy
Sebastian Miranda
Solid at position and staying healthy

Matt Lampson
Staying healthy as 2nd Senior GK and on Reserves #1 GK
Shaun Francis
Okay on the field but makes some questionable decisions, in tough roll
Tony Tchani
Playing good role, needs to find way to contribute to attack, improving and healthy

Emilio Renteria
Staying healthy, good attitude of late - and scoring goals

Korey Veeder
Performing role and staying healthy

Chris Birchall
Getting fit after long layoff, good attitude, healthy

Ben Speas
Sports Hernia, Got Healty looked impressive in last reserve game

Ethan Finlay
Lots of playing time but little production, staying healthy, lots of effort, improving
Tom Heinemann
Had good pre-season, surgery, now recovering

Milovan Mirosevic
Staying relatively healthy, playing below expectations, still adapting to MLS
Chad Marshall
Head injury halted minutes, but was playing below talent, questions around attitude

Kirk Urso
Thrown in as starter (tough spot), made mistakes and now is injured.

Olman Vargas
Not producing as expected, did recover from slight injury recently (good)
Jairo Arrieta
Winter contract problems moved to mid year signing, did play in last reserve game

Aaron Schoenfeld
Decent hustle, looked durable to start, clumsy, Injuries now
Danny O'Rourke
More injuries, Fitness problems that aren't going away. Playing ok when available
Carlos Mendes
Injuries, Fitness problems, season not in sync
Dilly Duka
Injuries, can't get hamstring healed, not about to contribute

Julius James
Multiple Injury Setbacks, not able to contribute
Injured Reserve
William Hesmer
Hurt 1st day pre-season, out for year

Rich Balchan
Been trying to recover from hernia for a long time

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ohio Reserve Game Renaissance, June 10 2012

Columbus v. New England in dichotomic Reserve League action today.
Headline here could be that Jairo Arrieta saw his first Crew action but, it's not. He played a rather forgettable 1st 45 and looked pretty much like a guy playing his first minutes in a new country, on a new team, in a new system, in a new league.

Columbus took advantage of a long league break and fielded a mostly senior team lineup of (mostly) senior team regulars. All totaled? The Crew fielded a team with nearly four times more 2012 MLS minutes than that of the NE Revs (Crew: 4,853 to Revs: 1,294 minutes in MLS action this year). It makes this Crew follower wish the US Open Cup was taken this seriously.

Moving on.

The Crew played well. The starting lineup featured Jairo Arrieta up top with Mr. Hustle, Ethan Finlay. In the middle we had Bernardo Anor, Milovan Mirosevic, Cole Grossman and a Mr. Kevan George. The back had Carlos Mendes and Eric Gehrig (our Sunday El Captain) in the middle. Vukovic and Williams playing the part of delivering saints.

Lots of positive Crew possession but not many chances. Arrieta looked to want to impress but could not. It was very similar to Vargas' first few exhibitions. Cole, Anor and Williams had a lot of the ball. Kevan was solid and played within himself. Gehrig looked much more mature today... something I wish I could go more into but the night is closing (and the bourbon is nearly out). REGARDLESS. Good play from the armband.

Columbus sat Mr. Arrieta and brought on young Aaron Horton. At first, it was hardly noticeable but he grew into the match. Horton actually seemed to open things up for Finlay, who had two of the best chances I've seen him have this year.

Just as Horton and Finlay started to get going, a Mr. Ben Speas appeared. Speas who? Yes. Finally. Speas.

Instantly, the club looked improved. Josh Williams, who had started in the Right Back spot, then moved to Left Back after Vukovic left and finally settled in his natural Center Back spot.

There was moment in the first half where Williams was at RB and was thirsty. He called over for some water and Iribarren's man tossed out a bottle around the same time a live ball game his way. Josh had a water bottle and an soccer ball coming at him simultaneously... he was able to kick the bottle out and play the ball forward. It's a moment that you don't see often.

Eventually, the ball was played out and Williams got his water.

As the game progressed, what the fans on hand witnessed was a mini Ohio footballing reserve team renaissance. It produced a goal.

Good exchanges between Aubrey Perry, Williams and Speas on the right side produced short cross in to Anor - who punched it in from six yards out.

Game Over, Final Note

The Crew kept fresh legs on the pitch, 16 total players saw the field while New England only made two subs.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Break Time! Columbus Crew Style!

(David Burgin and I worked on this post to put together thoughts, stats and other musings about the Crew to date on where the team is and can where it can go from here. Unless otherwise noted, everything below was framed up and written by Mr. Burgin; writer, poet and blogger over at Global Football Today, Columbus Crew.)


By: David Burgin and Billy Sasquatch

Warning! This post is long...really, really long. If your eyes tend to cross after only a few minutes of reading standard font on a computer screen, this blog entry is not for you. If tedious comparative and statistical breakdowns of sports teams bore you to tears, this blog entry is not for you. If paragraph after paragraph of desensitizing information and brilliantly detailed facts, make you break out in hives, this blog entry is not for you.

If you do not fall into one of the above categories, this blog entry and the entire genius hypothesis contained in it should excite your frontal cortex like pictures of vanilla ice cream on top of a mound of brownies surrounded by your favorite candy bars, all dripping with caramel, chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

This blog entry contains delicious, dessert like, irrefutable statistical analysis of The Crew team and its players. (Provided by Billy Sasquatch of Helltown Beer fame. Billy knows which end is up. Read his stuff, you’ll instantly be smarter) This blog entry also contains a detailed theoretical breakdown of the current Columbus Crew players; where they are most valuable on the pitch; what players work best together; what players don’t mesh, and much, much more. Read on, and be amazed!

(paragraphs in (parentheses) are comments added by Billy Sasquatch specifically for this blog entry, and in response to David Burgin’s comments.)

#paragraphs between #pound signs# are comments added by David Burgin specifically for this blog entry, and in response to Billy’s comments.#


Let’s begin your journey with a quick breakdown of The Crew 2012 season so far. Things did not start well for Columbus. The first game was @Colorado and culminated in a 2-0 loss.

Billy Sasquatch posted these numbers in his write-up of the game.

“Key to this Game: PASSING
If it felt like Crew passing was off, it's because it was. SUCCESSFUL PASSING RATES: 69% CREW, 73% RAPIDS”

In my wrap-up of this game I said.

“Some errors in midfield, of the judgment variety, and the technical variety, made for a very disjointed first forty five minutes.”

The second game of the season was the first home game of the season. The Crew hosted Montreal, and beat the Canadian team 2-0.

A quote from Billy Sasquatch.

“That Montreal pressure shows itself the stat line; 17 shots (6 on target). Most of shots coming after going a man down must be slightly concerning for the Crew coaching staff.”

A bit of my take.

“Overall, The Crew showed small trinkets of improvement, from what was on display in Colorado.”

The third game of the season found The Crew traveling to play yet another Canadian team. This time it was the hated Toronto squad. Final score, Toronto 0-1 Columbus.

Billy had this to say.

“Can't argue with two consecutive shut outs but you can argue with only 2 goals during run of play in 3 games. Similar rate as last year and 2012 preseason and not good enough to raise the team to higher levels.”

And, my take.

“Finding a more fluid and consistent attack, something Warzycha's teams of the past have struggled with, will be key to The Crew's attempt to add more layers to what could be a modest two bedroom starter home, or what may turn out to be a four thousand square foot condo on the river front in downtown.”.

Game four, The Crew hosted the sizzling hot New York Red Bulls. Final score, Crew 1-4 NY.

Billy laid out this stark statistic.

“NY Red Bull 4 - Crew 1. Only five times since 1996 has the Columbus Crew lost by 3 or more goals at home. Most recently it was in 2010...2005 saw a pair. Finally, go back 16 years to 1996 to get another -3 game at home. If the loss yesterday felt a little different than other losses, that's why.”

(Crew are respected for never getting to high or too low. Just read some comments Warzycha made, half jokingly, about Poland in the Euro’s. 2-0 wins all the way to the title he said. Polish to the end. 2 goal diff might as well be 1000 goal diff. This attitude is something we may appreciate years after he is gone. Time will tell. That said; a 3 goal loss to a Pole coach is a game changer. Line ups changed after this one for sure.)

I tried to find glimmers of light; didn’t work.

“Saturday's match took place under sunny skies. For The Columbus Crew bright, shiny, sunny feelings ended a mere fifteen minutes into the match. Two Kenny Cooper goals from quick, crisp Red Bull midfield play ended this game before a third of the 11,000 or so fans found their seats.”

Going into game five at Philadelphia, The Crew were looking like the multiple personality wing frequented by Jack Nicholson. Columbus would lose this one to the worst scoring team in the league, 1-0.

Mr. Sasquatch left no doubt as to the problem.

“If you are a Crew fan/supporter don't let that drama at the top of the Crew formation fool you into thinking that is the problem, though.It's not. The Crew middle is a complete mess.”

I missed this game. Wrote about parking cars in Lorain, Ohio.

“Lake Erie is a Beautiful Place to Miss a Crew Game.”

Game six, were the wheels falling off? The Crew host Houston and tie, 2-2.

Billy mentions the, up to this point in the season, two brightest lights for The Crew. (Vukovic and Williams)

“Nemanja Vukovic, Danny O'Rourke and Josh Williams added a lot of fire and passion to the game yesterday.”

My short take on the game.

“Eddie Gaven with two goals. Houston with two goals.Waiting for the sport of soccer to show up, priceless.”

Game seven, the most disheartening loss of the year. @home hosting Vancouver, The Crew lose 0-1 on a late, poorly hit cross.

Helltown Beer had this to say.

“Where are Justin Meram and Bernardo Anor? Ethan Finlay just isn't there yet and I didn't even see Meram and Anor on the bench. It is bizarre.”

GFT’s Columbus Crew blog said this.

“Saturday's game against Vancouver included as many quality scoring chances for The Crew as the rest of the 2012 season combined. Is that a positive? I am not sure.”

(This Vancouver game might end up defining the season. Maybe it was the last straw with the players and they kicked it into gear or maybe the Crew will settle back into a team that just spins its wheels like in this game. Crew haven’t lost since then - but Warzycha teams always do well at this point in the season (summer). Last year the team used the month of June climbing to the top and in July battled PHI for the top spot. August 2011 was spent at the top of the East. I’ve charted the last 4 years and noticed the same trend. Slow start; dominate middle, horrible decline at the end of the season. Training? Attitude from ownership?)

On to game eight. The Crew travel to Portland to play the Timbers on their tiny plastic, hard to type this, soccer field. Final, 0-0.

Billy shreds the numbers once again, finding something The Crew front office would like to see buried like the second shooter in Dallas.

“Columbus has now only won 4 in their last 18 games. This is the worst 18 game run I can find, going back to 2007.”

I put the cherry on top of The Crew’s scoring woes.

“We learned that The 2012 Columbus Crew can't score in a... well they can't score. After eight games The Crew have a grand total of 6 goals.”

(This Portland game was the first “real” game for the athletically gifted Josh Williams. He had to grind this one as opposed his first 2 league starts where he was doing bicycle kicks, kicking ad boards in frustration, cursing and nearly missing goal bound flying headers. In Portland, he was on the west coast. Big crowd; yet, he physically handled Boyd. Pushing him, holding him, even tackling him. It was awesome. I think the other 2011 reserve players started to take notice too. Meram and Grossman in particular. Gehrig had already been putting in shifts but he seemed to latch on as well.)

# I played for a few years in the Columbus Premier League with a wonderful player by the name of Miklos Jalics. “Mickey” as he is fondly called, played his college ball at Akron. He made it to an NCAA title game against Duke, I believe in 1989. Mickey had the same effect that Billy attributes to Josh Williams. If you played with Mickey, his energy and commitment were palpable. Every team needs someone whose enthusiasm is viral. I hope Mickey is alright with me mentioning him. #

Game 9: The Crew host Dallas. Goals and points clearly the breath of fresh air The Columbus Crew needed in this 2-1 victory.

Mr. Sasquatch drives home how important this game was to both Hunt Sport's Group teams.

"THE END, CONCLUSION • 36 called fouls. 6 Yellow Cards (1 Red)."

I point a congratulatory finger at Justin Meram.

"last night against FC Dallas Justin Meram showed just enough improvement in his flank midfield play to allow him to go from deep positions into his more comfortable role as an attacking wing/forward."

The Crew traveled to San Jose to meet Major League Soccer's most offensively potent team for game number 10. The resulting 1-1 tie was nothing short of amazing.

Billy puts Mr. Meram in lights after this one.

"The touch and control Meram showed on the goal was outstanding. Next level outstanding, to be bluntly honest."

Yours truly echoes Billy.

"Meram and Gruenebaum Make a Splash in Choppy Waters."

On to game eleven. The Crew continue their trip on the West coast with a visit to Seattle. Two Crew goals later, and zero Sounders goals, and Columbus returns home with 4 hard earned points.
Helltown Beer has this to say.

"Columbus won the MLS Reserve League last year and the core group from that team has helped turn this 2012 season around on the Senior team level."

Global Football Today enjoyed the late night game with friends.

"Seattle 0-2 Crew. TV On, Feet Up, Window Open. Musical Score for Intense Game Provided by Kermit and Cousins."

Finally, game twelve of the 2012 season. The Crew continue to win.

Billy takes Robert Warzycha to task in regards to Justin Meram.

Link."In order to have great players you have to allow players to be great."

I defer to Billy, above, due to an overload of youth soccer.


After the quick, and sometimes painful, re-hash of the Columbus Crew’s first twelve games of 2012, I give you the intricate, multivariate theory detailing where each Crew player should be playing, and what combination of players works best.

The simple premise behind this entire post; soccer is about scoring goals, and not giving up goals. The incredibly complicated part of soccer is how you go about building a team which does the scoring, and keeps the ball out of its own net. You will notice throughout this mind numbingly long treatise that I am not a fan of the zero sum approach which puts the manager and his tactics first in line of importance. Every player is unique. Celebrating the individual personality, while melding the eleven unique variables that are any given soccer team’s players, is the stuff of both dreams and nightmares. I firmly believe that, in soccer, you don’t have to have the best, fastest, smartest and most agile players to win. In other words, properly deployed, the sum of the unique variables can be greater than eleven.

(Bending players to fit a singular mold is dangerous. It also can send you to Costa Rica and Venezuela looking for players.)

(Not to get side tracked here but… A couple months ago I pulled every MLS players hometown. Grouped them into regions and countries, etc… just to prove that the Crew could recruit within Ohio and adjacent states and not have to rely on “tape” or other player’s word of mouth. I thought that the players the mid west region produced was enough to make a top MLS club (at least competitive playoff team) and would reduce cost and drain on resources. I was ready to nail Brian Bliss to the wall for his DP travels and such… Turns out Ohio and the mid-west do have more than enough good players, yes… and the Crew are recruiting them to play at a higher rate then any other team. Around 10% of the Crew is from this area. 58 of 540 players in MLS are from Ohio and adjacent states. Columbus has 7 of them, most in the league. Columbus carries more players from the USA than any other as well (73%). Could Columbus field a top team with only Mid-westerners and win the league? Yes, but they are doing a good job here already. Patriotic side track -over!)

I will start with two young Crew players that Billy Sasquatch and I routinely see in a positive light, Justin Meram and Bernardo Anor. Mr. Sasquatch has, on more than one occasion, shown with his Helltown statistical analysis, HERE that these two get the job done. When they are on the field the Crew’s goal differential is excellent, and the win, lose, draw metric is very positive.

(Glad I’m not alone on Anor. I feel like he is one of the real ‘footballers’ on the team as in, the game is part of him. The other Central South Americans have ‘it’ as well, but I feel like Anor is almost in his own world out there. I’ve seen him live a bunch this year but I was able to sit down close during the Dayton game. Every crew player was pressing so hard all game. Anor comes in late (could have been fresh legs, but I’d seen it from afar before) and just makes the Dayton players look silly. It was comical the way he worked around them.)

(There is something about Anor that works when he starts. Not sure if it is that the other players like him, or trust him, or what. But, starting him works. He’s been successful over both years with 5 wins in 9 games started and a +3 Goal Diff. The other players around him in games started are: Tchani: 1 win in 7 games started, Mirosevic: 3 wins, 10 games started, Gehrig: 3 wins, 10 games started, Francis 3 wins, 10 games. All of those guys also have negative goal differential.)

(Meram is off to a similar start as well. Positive numbers when he starts. Same could be said for Vukovic and Williams. Great starts, in the hardest way possible, on the road against excellent sides).

Meram and Anor are a fascinating glimpse into the heart of the beautiful game. When Meram is slotted into an attacking wing position he shines. He sees the field well from there, he knows when to attack with the ball on his foot, and when to back off and distribute to support. Like Meram, Anor is still sometimes raw in his approach to the game, but when Bernardo is patrolling the left flank in support of Meram the two click. Here is why, I think, this is true.

(Meram has the right kind of attacking mentality. Find space with out the ball and create space with it. Anor is able to locate players in space. Both are creative thinkers (a trait not valued in MLS. At all.)

Meram can effectively get behind defenders, but is becoming adept at recognizing when not to be direct. Anor is best when asked to keep the flow of the game going. Bernardo plays one and two touch quickly and smartly. Meram recognizes when to drop back and help defensively, or when to drop back and become an outlet for a teammate under pressure. The two, when encountering a packed midfield, will link with smart central midfield partners and make the opponent chase before finding the long switch or safely laying off to a Crew central defender. Lastly, Anor is aware of when to pinch in and allow a player like Nemanja Vukovic the room to overlap.
What hinders this pair’s dynamic interplay? A forward who holds too long, or a forward who dribbles too much. Also, when the Crew central midfield outruns the space they should be in, repeatedly, the result is a breakdown in the form of the team, and often the wing becomes crowded and ineffective.

The next pairing I will sight is Eddie Gaven and Dilly Duka. Gaven and Duka are the mirror image of Anor and Meram. All things said above are also true of these two. While Duka has seen his cumulative numbers tumble to embarrassing lows, again, see Billy’s table.

(I’m struggling with Duka’s numbers. A lot of my training and mentoring in manufacturing (which is a performance based business like sports) was by a mathematical engineer who learned her trade in the Rolls Royce Aircraft division. I’ve spent countless hours of my life trying to qualify and quantify outlying data like Duka’s. Countless “deep dives” and power point presentations that lead nowhere. Duka has talent but it is just plain strange that he’s had such bad results when starting. Usually when I see data like this it comes down to “soft skills” or the way someone fits into the culture. Things not quantifiable with measurements.)

(The team needs him healthy. I’ll leave it at that for now.)

I believe it is because he has been played, consistently, out of position. He has primarily been played as a wing midfielder, or central midfielder. Dilly is most effective in the same attacking wing role in which Meram thrives. Eddie Gaven is Eddie Gaven. He can play anywhere on the field, but when paired with a player like Duka, Eddie is in his comfort zone. Combine these two Crew players on the opposite side of the field from Meram and Anor and the Crew become a very dangerous, two sided team.

(Meram, Gaven, Anor and Duka advanced with a couple defensive mids behind them, dangerous!)

Important note: Meram and Duka are the type of players who work well together when in advanced positions, not so much when in midfield. Gaven and Anor are the consummate facilitators. Thus, the reason they pair so well with players like Meram and Duka who have a little more, shall we say, attitude.

Offensively, the two pairings above, although only seen a handful of times so far this season, have constituted the most obvious and fluid options for the Crew attack. But, let’s move on and see what central midfield partnership is best, and more importantly, which central midfield partnership gels best with our wing pairings.

The middle of The Columbus Crew has been unsettled most of the season. Milovan Mirosevic, Kirk Urso, Danny O’Rourke, Tony Tchani, Cole Grossman, newly added Chris Birchall and surprisingly competent, Kevan George have all taken to the middle of the field for Robert Warzycha.

I’ll start with Mirosevic. The new man from Chile has been struggling to fit in with Columbus. What is his role? Who should partner the veteran national teamer? To this point in the season I believe the dilemma for Milovan results from the interplay displayed by the Crew as a whole; not in the search for individual purpose. The realization that the tandem wing components (Anor/Meram and Gaven/Duka) are emerging quickly, should allow Mirosevic to fold himself into the fabric of the team given the correct partner. When healthy, Milovan Mirosevic should be starting.

(Mirosevic is a really good soccer player that has been thrown head first into a violent league. I think he even took on some MLS traits and it lead to injury (too much sprinting and going to ground). A limited scope in back would help him relax and release his talent (sort of like letting a freshly poured stout settle in a pint glass) and allow him to get up top when he wants and not when he’s forced.)

#Mmm, freshly poured stout, patience and a bar stool.#

Now, who partners Mirosevic? First, whoever it is must help create a compelling and influential unit in the middle of the park. Perhaps just as important, the central tandem must be compatible with a team whose attack swings from side to side and seeks to break down the opposing team’s outside backs more often than charging up the middle or throwing crosses into the penalty area repeatedly.

Danny O’Rourke has made a case to be allied with Milovan. Danny, a player I have criticized on more than one occasion, has the experience of playing on the best ever Crew team (something I will use later to bring home some of the points in this post). Danny does not try to do too much. He is strong in the tackle, and consistent with his passing, when in form. The drawbacks to playing Danny as first choice: O’Rourke is injury prone, not a good thing when talking about the heart of your team. He has also lost a step. For now I say Danny is the guy to come on when needed, but not start.

(Durability is turning into the Crew’s most valued, yet rare, mineral.)

Kirk Urso. I will only say that Urso will someday be a quality defensive mid, but today is not the day.

(He’s got impressive power and control on free kicks but that’s about it for now… which makes him the Charlie Adam of the Crew… or something.)

Tony Tchani. Tony is an enigma, wrapped in a Douglas Adam’s book. He began the season looking like an amateur player. His play of late looks much more like the Tony Tchani the Crew thought they were getting when they made the trade for him with Toronto. The reason I would not pick Tony to partner in the starting eleven with Milovan is his penchant for holding a beat too long and the odd inability to read what he is up to.

(I’ll be watching Adam’s Monty Python scripted skits till 2 am.)

#Douglas Adams AND Monty Python, can you say overdose of irreverent British humor?#

(I would like Tchani to even out on his own but I think Warzycha has made it his mission to coach this kid’s head right. That’s a good thing but as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of other players (ie. Ignoring other players to “fix” talented Tchani).)

(Salary note on both former Generation Adidas players that the Crew have… Duka and Tchani’s “base salaries” are $100k+! less than guaranteed salary. Not sure how the Crew worked this but it tells me that they require performance from these guys. Duka’s guaranteed salary of 233k puts him only behind Marshall on the team, yet his base is 9th highest. Same with Tchani. 4th highest in guaranteed (performance based) yet 11th in base. In a lot of ways it seems like GA players are set up to fail. Crew have set these 2 players up in a way that forces them to prove themselves. No two guys on the team probably have more pressure on them this year.)

(On another financial note. Did you know that Olman Vargas’ 170k salary is 85,765,024.01 Costa Rican Colónes? It is a very big deal for Vargas to be here (on a personal level). Also, the Crew overpay for players in Central and South America. Bliss could put a healthy Ben Speas up top and pay him 40k and he would have more than one goal.)

#Something to look into: Do the Crew have to play Duka and Tchani if healthy? What I mean is, if they don’t play, and therefore cannot prove their worth, do their guarantees kick in because of NOT being played? I know, sounds counter intuitive, but makes some sense when you think about it. Would be awful in a team sense, but logical for the individual.#

Chris Birchall, added only a couple weeks ago to the Crew roster, has the experience. He has the tenacity, but I have not seen enough of him to make a call one way or the other.

(I am partial to any English player, especially one from Staffordshire (mother is from Northamptonshire). Would like to see him get in shape. He’s “chuffy” right now.)

#While I did not see the Open Cup match, I have read accounts saying Birchall was “all over the place, and shooting from distance.” If true, this kind of central midfield play would be harmful to the “style” The Crew have begun to show. If this is just a hiccup, no problems.#

Cole Grossman is intriguing. He adds a different approach to any midfield he steps into. He makes the direct pass, and gets into the opposing team’s box smoothly.

After all those choices, and some of them may be a good tandem in their own right, I would go with the little used, but silky smooth Kevan George. George reminds me a tad bit of Keita at Barcelona. He is unselfish, rarely makes a bad pass, doesn’t over run the game, and he seems to make the players around him better. Throw in the fact that he tackles almost effortlessly and you have the perfect partner, not only for Mirosevic, but for The Crew’s dynamic wing duos.

Milovan Mirosevic and Kevan George would fit snugly between the Crew wings. Both players bring an honest approach to the game. They both see the field well; even under pressure, and they both are very efficient when transitioning possession from the back and side to the front and opposite wing.

(I can’t make heads or tails of Kevan yet. I’d like to see him with Mirosevic in over 90 mins. His play with Grossman has been unassumingly good. But that could be Grossman playing understated minutes. We might have to call in Douglas Adams on Grossman as well.)

If you are paying attention, you will have realized that I have proposed somewhat of a unique formation. If I choose to add an out and out striker there is only room for three backs. If I choose to play without an out and out striker, then Meram and Duka are my forwards, and I can go four in the back. Robert Warzycha clearly prefers four in the back.

I would choose Meram and Duka as my forwards. I do this, simply because they mesh with the overall structure of what I see as the most effective attacking unit The Crew can field. The defensive four of Williams, James, Vukovic and Miranda stays in tact. Gehrig, Francis, Marshall (if healthy), O’Rourke, and others can fill in for the starting back four. The starting back four have proven, both last year and this year, to be solid under pressure, able to step into attack and capable of helping to direct play when needed.

Up top, and in midfield there is a growing list of options to back up the starting six. New man, Arrieta, can replace either Meram or Duka when needed. Emilio Renteria, less than suited to this formation and style of play, should be able to adapt. The plethora of decent choices in the middle can fill in for Mirosevic or George when needed. Outside mid is thinnest, but Francis can play on the left and Tchani can play on the right if need be.

(Going over the top here, but it is Euro time… This formation is something I’ve seen with England national side recently. Lots of general soccer savvy and attacking box to box mids makes them heavy up top. Meram has the skill of a smart mid but the will of an attacking talent. Maybe Gaven, Anor, Duka making box to box decisions, while dangerous, is a good thing. I think they have it in them, especially with Mirosevic and O’Rourke (or Kevan, Gehrig, et al) playing behind them. Allowing Meram the freedom up top with creative Anor, Duka and Mr. Gaven deciding when to advance? Cooouuullld work. Thinking on that. This formation can work in MLS.)

#Count me in the group that does not like one man up top. If the pairings mentioned above are fruitful, I see a lot more possession in The Crew’s future; another of the reasons I pick Kevan George to partner Mirosevic. Unlike other sports, offense in soccer can be what wins championships. By that I mean: If I have the ball you cannot score. Defense thru offense, that, I like!#


Now, I mentioned the 2008 team a few paragraphs back. Why is the 2008 team important to the current squad and my take on who works best together? Let’s take a look at Frankie, Schelotto and the boys.

While the 2008 team played with Alejandro Moreno up top and Barros Schelotto sideline to sideline behind Alejandro, that partnership and the partnerships in other areas of the field were not forced, and remind us that finding good combinations throughout a soccer team is the quickest route to success. Brian Carroll, Brad Evans and Adam Moffat rotated in the middle behind Schelotto, and any two of the three formed a potent defensive midfield. Eddie Gaven and Frankie Hejduk ruled on the right side. Gino Padula and Robbie Rogers was an odd pair on the left, but they somehow clicked. The team as a whole was able to mesh the different pairings into a cohesive whole.

(2008 is where I will defer to you. I’m taking the time to research, data mine and watch but wasn’t as close to the team then, but I’m learning. I’ve been casually following since I moved to Ohio in 2006. It wasn’t till the club started making noteworthy moves in 2010 that I decided to dig in. Loving every minute. However, on the 2008 team… I do know enough to say: Could we have Carroll, Evans and Moffat back please? Or at least parts of them? Carroll’s winning and consistency, Evans comfort -- Moffat’s attitude and foot? All I ask.)

#You ask so little. The soccer gods should be accommodating.#

The 2012 version of the Columbus Crew is very much different from the Major League Soccer, 2008 Champions. The 2012 Crew does not have a Moreno to plug in up top. The 2012 Crew also does not have Barros Schelotto to conjure the dangerous chances any successful team must have to win consistently.

Interestingly, after all the changes Robert Warzycha and Brian Bliss have made to The Crew roster since the championship year, the 2012 Black and Gold do look to possess some of the same difficult to find traits that the 2008 version of the Crew possessed. The two teams are built to play the game differently; 2012’s team has players who can score goals, but the current squad’s goals come from build up to the wings, and then keeping the ball on the ground while patiently finding the weakness' in their opponent's defensive scheme. The 2008 team countered quickly and efficiently to score many of their goals. The two teams approach the game differently, but both teams use good understanding between teammates to make the chances appear.

That trait, that one trait, understanding, is the common factor in any winning teams make-up. In other words, properly deployed, the sum of the unique variables can be greater than eleven.

I hope you enjoyed this look back at the first third of The Crew's 2012 season, and the musings of both myself and Billy Sasquatch.

I also hope you will continue to read my, Global Football Today, Columbus Crew blog, AND, Billy's, Helltown Beer blog.

There is still two thirds of The Major League soccer season left. The Crew still have it all to do...


(Special thanks again go to Mr. Burgin. It was his idea and he did most of the heavy lifting. Check out Global Football Today Crew blog, must read for anyone who likes following the Team)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

June 5th 2012 US Open Cup Schedule

Here is a listing of tonight's US Open Cup games. Most of them should be available streamed on the club websites with a couple exceptions:

FOX Soccer has picked up the Cal FC / Sounders game and WRAL2 will be broadcasting the game locally in Raleigh on their over-the-air digital channel 5.2 (yeah WRAL!!).

Should be a great night of soccer.


7:00 p.m. ET
New York Red Bulls (MLS) at Harrisburg City Islanders (USL PRO)
Skyline Sports Complex
Harrisburg, Pa.

7:07 p.m. ET
Chivas USA (MLS) at Carolina RailHawks (NASL)
WakeMed Soccer Park
Cary, N.C.
WATCH ON: WRAL2 (local)

7:30 p.m. ET
Philadelphia Union (MLS) at D.C. United (MLS)
Maryland SoccerPlex
Boyds, Md.

7:30 p.m. ET
Dayton Dutch Lions (USL PRO) at Michigan Bucks (PDL)
Oakland University Soccer Field
Rochester, Mich.

7:30 p.m. ET
Colorado Rapids (MLS) at Sporting Kansas City (MLS)
LIVESTRONG Sporting Park
Kansas City, Kan.

8:30 PM ET, 7:30 p.m. CT
Charlotte Eagles (USL PRO) at San Antonio Scorpions (NASL)
Heroes Stadium
San Antonio, Texas

10:00 PM ET, 7:00 PM PT
Cal FC (USASA) at Seattle Sounders FC (MLS)
Starfire Sports Complex
Tukwila, Wash.

11:00 PM ET, 8 PM PT
Minnesota Stars FC (NASL) at San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)
Cagan Stadium, Stanford University
Stanford, Calif.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Eric Wynalda's Argument

Back in January Eric Wynalda went after Major League Soccer during the NSCAA Convention in a way we rarely witness publicly. During his convention speech one could tell that he sees, as more and more do, that Major League Soccer needs fundamental change in competitive structure.

It's not just good enough to have a league that exists anymore.

What Wynalda has done with his amateur Cal FC club is magnificent. I'm not sure there is anything much more American then what he's done. He expressed what needed fixed within professional soccer in this country then went out and physically proved his argument.

There were 8 lower division teams beating MLS sides last week but none of those upsets compare to Cal FC over the Portland Timbers.

Wynalda's band of spunky castaway amateurs made a mockery of the USSF professional league soccer model that night in Portland and we all will benefit from it.

Cal FC takes on Seattle tomorrow along side seven other "lower soccer division" sides.

Full US Open Cup bracket. LINK.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Crew Player Performance as Starter

Updated player averages based off Points Earned per Start, Goal Differential and "Helltown Score" (which is that sum of Pts per Start and Goal Diff).

That chart can be found here. LINK.

On the far right under the "All Crew Players 2011 2012" tab there is a filter you can use to edit by active players currently on roster or non active (xx).

The Helltown Score is simple and blunt measurement. Just like with everything you have outlying data points that are usually players with less games. A 5 game minimum might be a little on the low side but it is enough to spot a trend.

Here is what the Helltown Score Starting line up would be:


Sebastian Miranda
Josh Williams
Julius James
Nemanja Vukovic

Danny O'Rourke

Eddie Gaven
Milovan Mirosevic
Bernardo Anor

Emilio Renteria
Justin Meram

Play players who are performing. Achieve consistency by setting goals using proven metrics. Communicate those metrics to the team and start the players that hit them.

Eliminate gray areas. Reward success and punish failure. Allow the exceptional. Set standards based on what is required by the position (on the line or on the pitch) and not the person.

By itself, the Helltown Score isn't a metric I would use to start or sit players but it could be useful in evaluating performance over time.