Sunday, October 30, 2011


That's the date Football Manager 12 is telling me a number of Columbus Crew contracts end. Why FM12? It is difficult to find contract information on Major League Soccer players, anywhere.

Here are the players that will be out of contract come December 31st, 2011:

Robbie Rogers, Chad Marshall, Andres Mendoza, Eddie Gaven, Emilio Renteria, Will Hesmer, Emmanuel Ekpo, Danny O'Rouke, Tom Heinemann, Andy Gruenebaum, Josh Gardner, Kevin Burns.

It almost would have been easier to have given a list of players with contracts past this year (15 with, 13 w/o).

Having that many players with expiring contracts is not unusual for a MLS team (or in the Footballing world in general). MLS likes to keep rosters fluid, especially in expansion years.

November and December of last year was a time of change for the Crew. Lots of players either declined new options, Traded for Allocation dollars or were left unprotected for the two team expansion draft.

All and all; Eight players, most of them starters, were turned over in that time. Schelotto (38), Padula (35), Hejduk (37), Carroll (30), Moffat (25), Brunner (25) were the most polarizing.

Fans and Supporters around town were really hard on the Crew front office for the changes made last year. Notably: Supporter fallout and venom contributed to a record low year in attendance. It wasn't until 2/3's of the way through the year, when the Crew managed 1st in the East, did Supporters ease up and crowds get back to normal.

The more I read, see and hear about MLS and it's contract dealings the more I realize how much of who is on the team is not controlled by individual franchises. There are certain degrees of wiggle room, but not a whole lot.

Knowing that: As is the case with any professional sports team in Ohio (or, this part of the country), that wiggle room is always less.

Looking at some of the larger names on the expiring contract list it must be tempting for the front office to move a couple stars for asset allocation funds.

In just about eight weeks the January transfer window opening up in England and Europe. It'll be interesting to see a couple of the players worth on the open market (Ekpo, Rogers). Columbus has proved (mostly) smart in spending money. A few extra dollars could possibly go a long way.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Rapids 1, Crew Out

I woke up early with full intention of gathering my thoughts on the Colorado / Columbus game last night but I just can't get past something... The tweaks to the line up Robert Warzycha (and Mike Lapper) made.

1. Tony Tchani; first game in a Crew uniform and first game since July 9th; 2. Dilly Duka in an advanced position with Mendoza. Neither happened at all during the year. Both are talented players, but it's odd to see changes like this in an important game.

Changes to line-ups, especially last minute ones (O'Rourke) can change a team's mood. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. I can't say for certain that was the root cause for the Crew to come out flat, but I feel like it may have contributed. At times, when in possession, it looked like strangers playing pick up out there.

I'll let this quote wrap up things for me here so I can head off and get some coffee:

"It was just little things. That’s what’s really killed us pretty much this whole season.” - Eddie Gaven

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Ponderance Around Us

The Truth About Cars. An excellent place to check out. There was a recent post about non-union workers in the South. Good stuff. Great conversation. Hits home here in Columbus. Where a battle line is being drawn between each and the other.

The reason I bring it up is because I've been thinking about the places I get Columbus Crew news and notes and asking questions about how it affects me empirically, emotionally, logically, and aesthetically.

Outside of the comments I get from Bleeno and Smitty on the Crew, I'm wondering...

What shapes my opinion of the 2011 team outside of just watching them play live and an TV? Was it Shawn Mitchell's mid-season player profiles coming from the mighty Columbus Dispatch? Perhaps it was Aaron Katzeman at Massive Report. Supporters twittering. Heck, it could have been Ashleigh Ignelzi's Crew coverage on

Was it 15 year old Glenlivet. Nana's choice, Gordon's G&T. Billy's choice; San Pellegrino and Johnson's Midnight Moon. Maybe it was a dash of a thundering Hans Zimmer score. Or. If you must. An equally equating, yet fragile James Newton Howard piece.

It's an interesting thing to explore.

Monday, October 24, 2011

MLS Playoff Scenario

Major League Soccer sets this sucker up so anything can happen but I've done my best, based on season results, to predict what will happen.

Columbus has Colorado on Thursday. Over the past several months I've grown to respect the Colorado Rapids. I feel like they are in the same place as the Crew in a few ways. Nothing flashy about the Rapids Cup winning side last year. The only thing that really got peoples attention with them this year was negative play.

The Rapids are not a dirty team. In fact, they have conceded the 2nd fewest fouls this year. Though, they do draw the 2nd highest Yellow Card per/Foul Conceded (15.5% of fouls resulting in a yellow. San Jose number 1 at 16.6%).

They also aren't on "national" TV along with the Crew on Thursday. Only MLS Cup Playoff game to not be televised on Fox Soccer or the ESPN network.

My heart tells me that Columbus can win this game, but reason is telling me otherwise. The deck is stacked against them a bit. It's in Colorado. Later start time (10 PM). The altitude is always tough. Going to be cold. And I believe that the CCL games have made the Rapids stronger.

Goals For and Goals Against are surprisingly similar, but Colorado is better at both. Were this a neutral site I'd say it is a tight 2-1 game, either way.

Columbus won one (4-1 at home) and lost one (2-0 away) against them this year. The away game was where Eddie Gaven got hurt and thus started the Crew decent deep into several levels of hell during the final third of the season.

Had Gaven not been injured by Jeff Larentowicz the Crew would have won the East.

Columbus tested an Attack First mindset two weeks ago Against the Revs but last weekend they went back to a defensive minded mid-field team. I expect more of the Chicago type game for the Crew / Rapids. 3 or 4 goal affair.

Go Crew.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Last Regular One

The Columbus Crew are on the way. Ekpo out for whatever playoff opener the team has cause of the silly yellows in the last game. Big loss. Only other thing that bothers me about losing the last game to Chicago is the fact that no Crew player will finish in my top 20. Miranda was close!

Good year and enjoyed following the team all regular season.

To the playoffs. Hell Awaits!!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Never Forgive, Never Forget (you can find a better version, but I like it raw) MLS Power Rankings

Start at rt. click HERE.LA, Philly, Seattle, FC Dallas deserve hardware this year. New York deserves nothing, except what is actually happening to the poor town they pooped that stadium on. My MLS Power Rankings normally take a sip or thrice of wine and tonight is no different. For it is done.

I haven't changed my weighted categories since back in whenever, early 2011. I just do what the numbers tell me.

If I were to call it, I'd say (outside the top four) that feknone have a chance.

My hometown Crew have been punching above their weight, yes. But. They are by far, NOT the best team here. Were they to win the MLS playoffs they would meet the same critical fate the Colorado Rapids are facing this year. It sucks for Colorado because they are actually a good team this year. The 2 or (maybe) 3 national, nationwide MLS media likes can suck it on the Rapids.

MLS Power Rankings.

In Color.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

United's Lack of Spice Consistency

There you have it, the end of the season. Plenty of close games this year that could have swung our way, but hey, that's the way the tacos tumble. Benny you did pretty well as a rookie coach, I mean, I like you.. DeRo, you've been a stunner. Najar, you're gonna go far. Pontius, get well soon. Davies, poor fella, chin up.

Looking forward to next year. In the meantime I've got one more game to go to and I better get one of those little soccer balls they throw out to us silly fans.
Highlights and interviews
Especially watch the Ngwenya miss. Sums up his season.
Here's a great reaction from Martin Shatzer who was in the pressbox

Monday, October 17, 2011

Best Team Ever + That 2011 MVP

It could be argued that the 1998 Galaxy are the best MLS team the devoted have ever seen. Best PPG (2.19), an astonishing MLS best 2.66 goals p/GM (Cobi Jones, Mauricio Cienfuegos, Hurtado the beast). They also sport the best goal difference in league history... 1.28. No team even comes close to that.

This got me thinking though. How close are the 2011 LA Galaxy to Major League Soccer Immortality >>? David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Juninho, Robbie Keane. All "superstars".

<< or as immortal as MLS teams get >>

The 2011 Galaxy are pretty close. They currently stand on 2.03 points per game. A win in their last game gets them to 2nd best PPG in league history, hopscotching a strong Miami team in 2001*. *I'll go ahead and do the asterisk here. 2001 was a good year for a lot of MLS teams. Read up. Dark days, my friend.

The Bruce Arena 2011 Galaxy team is nowhere near the top in Goals For (96th in league history, 1.42 per), but his goals against is a historic 0.76. 2nd best in MLS history. The best? Last years Real Salt Lake. Yeah, that team that erased part of the MLS can't play stigma across the Americas.

So. Who are the masked men that rule the back line on this years Galaxy team?

Todd Dunivant, Omar Gonzales, AJ DeLaGarza and Sean Franklin. All four of those guys are rated in my top 20.

Taking into account one of the best Team Points p/GM averages in history and 2nd best GA avg in MLS history... I'm going to go ahead and present the following:

HELLTOWN BEER Major League Soccer Player of the Year

Todd Dunivant.

Congratulations buddy.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Playoffs, The Spoils of Victory and Loss

The Columbus Crew went out looking for two things last night: Goals and a Win. They got both and earned a spot in the playoffs for the 4th year in a row.

The game last night was played on turf so the ball skipped around and run out of players reach enough times that it reminded me of a field hockey match.

The Andres Mendoza / Emilio Renteria pairing cashed in on their promises, at last. Mendoza had a couple goals that were assisted by Renteria and Dilly Duka provided the third in the 3-0 win.

It was a positive team effort but notable play was provided by Eddie Gaven, Danny O'Rourke, and Andres Mendoza. The three of them were +3 in my black and gold book. So, it wasn't a standout night (+5 and above) for any Crew players, just solid. All crew players were 0 to +3 except two.

Only negative play I counted was Duka (-1) and Renteria (-2). I know that seems funny because there are 2 assists and 1 goal between them but I felt their play was just more harmful then positive. Too many attacks stopped with them. Duka is always trying to do to much and Renteria was wild man out there. Wild shots, sloppy passes and multiple offsides. More controlled play by the striker during this exhibition like game would have been a 5 or 6 goal Crew affair.

I did read this morning that the Crew gameplan was to attack at any expense, which is where the offsides comes from, but I don't think Warzycha meant to set a team record. Or, perhaps he did. Don't know. In either case, Renteria was uncharacteristically facing down field the entire game while, interestingly, Mendoza was holding. Two games now where I've seen that from Mendoza. He's done well both times. Could it be that he is a natural Attacking Left Mid in a 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 formation?

Final notes on the game vs the Revs last night: Justin Meram and Eric Gehrig were not listed as subs. Both of these guys are good enough to play in MLS. Of the two, I think Gehrig has the highest ceiling. Meram needs to mature. Switched around from the way I felt earlier this season. I expect to see them next weekend. Let's see how Meram comes out mentally. Not worried about Gehrig.
With this win the Crew move into the third "automatic" playoff spot. What is silly is that it is still possible to get first in the East or fall to an Away Wild Card spot.

It could actually be a good thing if the Crew fall to the higher seat in the Wild Card because it gets them an extra home game. Great news from home fans but, more importantly, the bean counters in the front office.

Home games are very important to MLS teams. Ticket sales make up most of the franchise revenue. Concession / Parking / Merchandise is likely around 10% (conservatively, ticket a face is ~25 and parking avg ~7, discounted tix and 2-3 to car etc etc). Playing with the numbers ($18 p/ticket, low) I can see why Commissioner Garber came out.

$3.9 million all in from home games. Low side. I can't imagine the high side being much higher. And $3.4 of that goes out to player salaries... on the positive side; but this is a very top down league. Everybody shares. With Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, LA pulling in disproportionate dollars you can see why the League wants the Crew to get it in gear.

Having that extra Wild Card home game can potentially bring in $400k (if well attended).

And for those wondering... Don't worry, the "Crewzers" don't get paid. I did hear that they do get hair, nails and tan paid for though.

Only one Regular Season game remains and it is up in Chicago on October 22nd. Chicago should come hungry as they may still have a shot at the playoffs. They are a talented team and Fotios Klopas has them playing well.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"You have to score a goal"

So, trying out Tableau. Billy's player ratings for the USMNT last night. Longer bar means the player was involved much. Green is good. Red-der, the bad-der.
So, I'm not sure on this sort of thing, but it is fun to play around with. I want shapes to basically say the following...

Beckerman was involved alot. Chandler had a good game. Williams has above average technical ability (no shapes for that, I guess). Shea is a awesomeness USA player. Guess I could have just said that, but it's so much funner with a editable chart. Right?

I particularly like the way I really spent time with it and went with "Name" and "Value". What it means is up to your imagination. You have one in there, true reader. Go with it.

Going the extra mile over here. Just like the USMNT under Klinsmann... It'll get better, I promise. Meaning. I promise my Tableau will get better. Klinsmann? No promises there. German defender Lahm won't make any for us either.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Crew History, The (in)Complete

John Wilmar Perez, 2001. The best single season in Crew history.

Don't bother searching him. You won't get much. Only real substance I found was a cached CNN SI pic. But it is a good one of him. Blacked out, baby. All Blacks.

Parez played in all but one game that year. Listed as a mid-fielder, 8 Goals, 15 Assists. Most of them to Crew legends Brian Maisonneuve (8 Goals, 5 assists) and Jeff Cunningham (10 Goals, 13 Assists). The 2001 Crew team won 13 of 26 games and had a points p/GM of 1.73, or second only to the incomparable 2008 team (1.90 ppg).

So who had the best seasons in Crew history? Glad I asked:

2001 : John Wilmar Perez
2001 : Brian Maisonneuve
2008 : Alejandro Moreno
2008 : Guillermo Barros Schelotto
2008 : Brian Carroll
2010 : Guillermo Barros Schelotto
2008 : Chad Marshall
2001 : Jeff Cunningham
1998 : Stern John
2008 : Robbie Rogers

No secret why the 2008 guys are on there. Couple outlying data points though, GBS in '10 and Stern John in '98. Don't want to stir the pot with GBS last year, but to show up on my list sandwiched betwixt two great crew years (01 and 08) means he had an outstanding year. The other: Stern John. Absolute goal scoring machine. More on him in a bit.

Want my complete list with stats? Go HERE. That's a big HERE. So go there.

Completely, originally, extrodinary Crew:

100% : Simon Elliot is the only player in Crew history to never miss a minute during a season (2005)

116 : Stern John's Shots on Goal total in 1998 (4.8 p/GM). Insanity. Number two? Stern John again in 1999. Warzycha took 92 in '97 for 3rd. Robert, frisky that year.

3 : Robert Warzycha goals off 92 shots in 1997. Effort.


26 : Stern John (1998)
18 : Stern John (1999)
17 : Brian McBride (1996)
16 : Jeff Cunningham (2002)
15 : Dante Washington (2000)

(Played in over 85% of all minutes)
(Goals p/90 without PK)

0.53 : Dante Washington (2000)
0.34 : John Wilmar Perez (2001)
0.33 : Alejandro Moreno (2008)
0.33 : Brian Maisonneuve (2001)
0.23 : Robbie Rogers (2008)

I could go on forever with this stuff. I'm hoping at least one Crew Supporter finds this and takes a look at history beyond their own experience.

Last note is going to be on Stern John. Prepare yourself.

Stern John scored 44 goals in 55 games for the Crew in the short time he was here. Late '90s. Let that sink in...

Man, I wish he were still around. Wait... he just captained the Trinidad and Tobago team a couple days ago? He must be old though, right? Well, yes and no. He is 34. But, you know what? Only 1 year older then Andres Mendoza.So, since I have all these stats, it has got me thinking...


Brian Carroll.

I'll explain later. Schelotto, Moreno, Gaven, Hesmer, Perez, Maisonneuve, Cunningham, Clark, Hesmer, and yes... O'Rourke make my all time list. All time Crew team coming soon.

McBride is an exception.

Finally, finally. Would you believe Miranda is having a season to remember. 37th best season in Crew history? Balchan (164) and Julius James (63) doing great. Future looks really good. Really. Just trust me on this stuff, okay?


Oh, 178 different players have seen minutes wearing a crew uniform since 1996.

Funny at the end, here. Only 2 of the teams in Crew history would not be in the playoff race at this point in 2011. I don't want to disparage our modern day MLS... but. What a joke.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

XIV. Only Interesting to Moi

Chicago Fire eliminated... from getting first place in the east. The Fire is 13th on the combined table and that has only happened just now (3 games left).

1a. William Hesmer made a funny when he commented on the MLS playoff format, "..instead of it taking 5 seconds to say 'we are in 5th and need to get into 4th' - it takes 30 seconds to explain how you get in."

1b. The NHL is struggling with conferences / divisions / playoffs as well. They kept Columbus in the West. That ensures a poor record. I see that Detroit and Nashville are in the West as well.

1c. NFL doesn't necessarily get it all right, but they get the game time stuff right. Sunday afternoon? Fall? Game is on TV.

1d. Finally, MLB. They are looking at splitting it in to two conferences and scrap divisions. If they go then expect the rest of the domestic sports to follow.

When I went to bed they were winning by a couple touchdowns. Woke up and caught up on the twitter feed. Reading the events that way was like watching that part in every war movie when the audience and characters know there just isn't anyone coming back from that last mission, but they gotta go.

Strange out here in Buckland these days. Scandal, bad team, questionable coaching and a rotten Athletic Director.

What this area thinks they need is some gritty vet to turn around, face the camera, pump his shotgun with one hand and say, 'come on you apes, you want to live forever?!!' just as the forgotten 80s metal song blares. Roll credits.

A: It's not going to happen.
B: it's not the right thing for the University.

Take you medicine, OSU. The sooner you do? The sooner you can get epic movie music.

2a. I've been paying close attention to OSU Coach Luke Fickell, not only because he looks a little like my brother but because he is around my age. He is certainly getting a crash course in, well, whatever coaching the football team of the largest university on the planet is. I don't know what you call that title. The position Fickell holds is too big for anyone. Because of the fans, it has become a mystical/shaman position that can only be filled by a mythical legend. King Arthur? Odin? Woody Hayes?

Because of Fickell's age I also find myself playing the "what would i do in that situation" game. I've come to the conclusion that there is nothing he can do, really. He was on Tressell's staff and knows too many dirty little things that could destroy his future career.

So, advice for Mr. Fickell:
- is roll out the school pride,
- prepare the fans for a long 2nd half of season
- say some good things about Woody
- Announce you are a one yr steward for the university, winning comes 2nd
- get your young family the hell out of dodge before the new year.

What I'll be playing the rest of this year.

3a. FIFA 12 is very fun.

3b. Fitting in Gears of War 3. Not as good as 2, but okay for what it is and better then the other future/space soldiers/shoot stuff/ games.

3c. Modern Warfare 3. Because having kids yell at you gets me though the Ohio winter and it looks like the next Ghost Recon is stalling.

3d. Uncharted 3. The first two were a couple of the best games I've ever played.

3e. Betcha Luke Fickell doesn't have time for video games right now. But he may next year if he doesn't GET. OUTTA. DODGE.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Columbus Crew: Goals and Assist Leaders

An update on goals (without penalty kicks) and assists for the team to date.

6 : Andres Mendoza
5 : Eddie Gaven, Emilio RenterĂ­a
3 : Tom Heinemann
2 : Josh Gardner
1 : Julius James, Robbie Rogers, Emmanuel Ekpo, Rich Balchan, Bernardo Anor, Jeff Cunningham

7 : Robbie Rogers
3 : Dilly Duka
2 : Andres Mendoza, Josh Gardner, Emmanuel Ekpo, Sebastian Miranda, Dejan Rusmir, Justin Meram
1 : Tom Heinemann, Bernardo Anor, Jeff Cunningham, Chad Marshall, Kevin Burns, Danny O'Rourke

Looks Like Robbie Rogers has the assist title (tied for 9th in the league) wrapped up. Still a chance for Gaven and Renteria to catch Mendoza (who is tied for 25th in goals this season).

Not the end of the season yet, but a taste of what's to come.

Did you know that there have been 223 goal scorers in Major League Soccer this year? There have been 495 players to see time. That 45% of the league that has scored at least one. It feels like developmental league numbers. Or - looking for a hero, MLS fans / supporters / media / coaches have no patience numbers.

GOALS P/90 MINS PLAYED (134 players meet qualifier, 7 Crew)

0.29 : Andres Mendoza (Rank 26th)
0.22 : Eddie Gaven (40th)
0.21 : Tom Heinemann (44)
0.11 : Josh Gardner (77)
0.04 : Robbie Rogers (120)
0.04 : Emmanuel Ekpo (123)
0.03 : Julius James (130)

All for now because there are still a couple games to go. Can't wait!

Added note on strikers, patience and time. They go together. Especially in a league where a player making $42k a year is only slightly behind a player making $500k when looking at goals and goals per 90 at the dangerman position. A 0.29 p/90 strike rate is not acceptable for a half million dollar player. It's just not. If the franchise is willing to pay 10x what a rookie striker makes then don't push and pull him looking for form... you leave him in there till he rots.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Gary Gnu(s) and MLS Notes

...That Red Bull win last night was bad news for some teams looking up at the playoffs. It eliminated Chivas so now they join San Jose, Toronto FC, New England and Vancouver as the clubs all out of hope.

...Chicago has a toughest road ahead of them. The need to win out (3 games). Last one they have is against the Crew. If the Fire are able to get by Dallas on the 12th then it sets up a titanic match up with DC on the 15th. If Chicago loses to Dallas then DC needs to take advantage there.

...Speaking of DC. They have a game against the 'Caps on the 12th they shouldn't look past (10PM EST, booo). DC is in a unique spot. The could effectively end seasons for the Fire and Portland in consecutive games.

...Late starts in PST for Eastern time zone teams. Bad MLS. Bad! pssst!

...The Crew: the only team left currently in the playoffs with a negative (-0.09) goals against average. Hesmer said a few weeks ago that the team got a few results early in the year they probably shouldn't have. He's right.

...Funny thing is though, only 6 of the 18 teams are in the negative. MLS teams play tentatively. 36% of games are still draws. So much opportunity in MLS for outsiders looking to get in.

...Please note the picture at the top of this post. Head protection is worn properly, no do-rag, and no ascot.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Columbus Dispatch Changes up Crew Beat

It's been fun following Shawn Mitchell's take on the Crew this year. He was the one lone beat writer in the country following the team for traditional media (I don't count *assive Report). I heard tonight that the daily paper is moving him over to Columbus Blue Jacket coverage and moving a young Blue Jacket guy over to the Crew. It's not without controversy though. There are former colleagues of his already coming out and stating that our new beat writer isn't even a soccer guy and that in fact, the guy hates soccer.

Mr. Mitchell's column in the paper on the Crew was good and his online presence was sufficient and fair. We'll see how the new guy does. It fishy that there is a switch going on right now. Only observation I have is that Mitchell's early season coverage was 10x better then his late season. Don't know what happened.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Guys Upstairs. Crew 2 DCU 1

DC United's Daniel Woolard put a nice volley into the back of the net. This part of his night was fine. Good goal. However, directly after his goal he thought it might be nice to run over to the Nordecke and mimic a bow and arrow shot at them (I think that's what it was). Why do that? Don't do that. The folks upstairs take notice of such things.

11 minutes later the same Robin Hood guy was in the wrong place at the wrong time and hit one in against his own keeper. No bow and arrow after the own goal, sadly.

12 minutes after that, (now) Crew Legend, (returning) Eddie Gaven (after two months) caught a cross from Miranda with a flying header and hammered it home. Amazing goal. Dare I say, best Crew goal of the season.

The stadium absolutely erupted (15,566 attendance) on that goal. The goal was so good, it got the (now classic) Dwight Burgess call: "What a great, great goal!" over the loud speaker. Considering that the Crew were on the verge of crashing out of the playoff race and it was the return of Gaven and me going into berserker mode on this 2011 Crew season... Well, it's a neat sports moment that I'll remember for a long time.Columbus looked energized from the start. Chad Marshall was out and quote machine Danny O'Rourke was in. It also looked like Hesmer had the arm band. Mendoza and Renteria were up top but nothing really came of it.

Memorable win for the Crew. Tough loss for DC. A pair of road games left for the Crew. Playoff game at home in the cards? We'll see.

Eastern Conference Looking for a Leader

Two drawn games yesterday between four Easter Conf teams. One / One draws are what this sort of playoff structure encourages at this point in the season. It's a "just don't lose when playing in conference, wait for the other guy lose" philosophy.

Today three East teams are playing. Crew v. DCU and Philly taking on a western team... out west. I dislike thinking that this Crew game has draw written all over it. It is their last home game and they need this win.

What's interesting is that the common perception of Coach Warzycha is that he does go for the draw but only three teams have tied less (Portland, Dallas, RSL). I think in Warzycha's perfect world he defends for the first 60 then turns his CDM into a CAM for a few minutes. No problems there, but because of injury that has been challenging gameplan to employ. You can see that play out with who he plays up top. I think he feels pressure to start both Mendoza and Renteria up top recently when his gut is probably telling him to pull back and have Renteria hold.

Warzycha and co. also seem tentative to start Mendoza up top, by himself (or for that matter, Heinemann). My gut tells me that it wouldn't work, but it hasn't been tried so who knows.

There are reports that Eddie Gaven is back and starting today (and Robbie Rogers is out). If that's the case then Eddie could give the Crew the mid-field control that the starving Mendoza / Renteria combo requires.

That's a big 'could' though. There is a lot more to this game than scoring goals. So far, putting those two up front has only yielded one thing: The worst loosing streak for the franchise since the team lost 6 in a row in 1996.

Should be an interesting one today. And a cold one. It is 42 this morning. Maybe get to the 50's later. I'll be in attendance as it may be the last home stand of the season. Not a must win for either side, but it is one where the winner could take some charge in the conference.