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.

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