Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Helltown Score Update (Mendes, Duka Top)

The Helltown Score is about how well the team does when a particular player starts.

I take the average Points Per Game (PPG) earned per start and add it to average Goal Difference (GD) per start.

Helltown Score = PPG + GD

I use a FIVE game start minimum. You'll notice players with more starts towards the middle. That is natural as the Crew have played 19 games. Eddie and Andy are the team average here.

This is for 2012 only.

Helltown Score : Name : Games Started

3.60 : Carlos Mendes (5)
3.00 : Dilly Duka (5)
2.11 : Danny O´Rourke (9)
1.79 : Joshua Williams (14)
1.71 : Justin Meram (7)
1.67 : Sebastián Miranda (18)
1.60 : Bernardo Anor (5)
1.50 : Chris Birchall (6)
1.50 : Emilio Renteria (14)
1.50 : Nemanja Vukovic (10)
1.47 : Andy Gruenebaum (19)
1.47 : Eddie Gaven (19)
1.17 : Shaun Francis (6)
0.83 : Olman Vargas (6)
0.83 : Tony Tchani (12)
0.75 : Milovan Mirosevic (12)
0.73 : Chad Marshall (11)
0.60 : Kirk Urso (5)
0.57 : Eric Gehrig (7)

Here are the folks that don't have enough games...

4.33 : Cole Grossman (3)
2.00 : Jairo Obando Arrieta (3)
2.00 : Julius James (2)
1.33 : Ethan Finlay (3)
1.00 : Aaron Schoenfeld (3)
0.75 : Kevan George (4)

Cole Grossman, Carlos Mendes and Dilly Duka are off to a rip-roaring 2012 start (especially Duka, who has done a 180 compared to last year). I've been playing around with this metric for over a year now and still think it is extremely valuable. Five games is a small minimum to go by but still enough to notice trend.

If I were to build a starting lineup off this metric I would cast aside the abritrary 5 game min and go with this:

Miranda, Mendes, James, Williams
O´Rourke, Grossman
Duka, Gaven, Meram

...and work from there.

The notable exception here is Mr. Marshall. Captain Marshall, as it is. I have a great deal of respect for him but his numbers, no matter how you slice them, don't rise to the top.

Let's compare him real quick to Josh Williams. Josh has 14 starts, Chad 11.

Points per Game
1.57 : Josh
1.47 : TEAM
1.18 : Chad

Goals for per Game
1.14 : Josh
1.05 : TEAM
0.91 : Chad

Goal Difference per Game
+0.21 : Josh
00.00 : TEAM
-0.45 : Chad

I don't want to pit these two players against each other. Nor am I attempting to make an argument to strip Chad Marshall of his armband (this would have disastrous effects, see recent twitter events as recorded by Gawker's Deadspin. Forgivable, but he did lead his teammates over a cliff).

What I am saying is that Chad, as captain, has immense responsibility regarding the success of this young club. He will be starting. He must get consistent results.

The Crew's chances at the playoffs and long term future depend more on this then any mid-season signing.

Want to know how the Helltown Score looks if you go back to the beginning of last year?

4.33 : Cole Grossman 3
3.60 : Carlos Mendes 5
2.27 : Justin Meram 11
2.00 : Jairo Obando Arrieta 3
2.00 : Andy Iro 2
1.91 : Bernardo Anor 11
1.83 : Tom Heinemann 12
1.80 : Danny O´Rourke 15
1.79 : Joshua Williams 14
1.76 : Andy Gruenebaum 21
1.60 : Kevin Burns 15
1.59 : Joshua Gardner 22
1.57 : Eddie Gaven 46
1.50 : Chris Birchall 6
1.50 : Nemanja Vukovic 10
1.41 : Julius James 34
1.40 : Sebastián Miranda 53
1.38 : Emmanuel Ekpo 29
1.33 : TEAM
1.33 : Ethan Finlay 3
1.25 : Jeff Cunningham 4
1.23 : Dejan Rusmir 13
1.18 : Emilio Renteria 28
1.11 : Chad Marshall 44
1.08 : Andrés Mendoza 26
1.06 : Will Hesmer 33
1.00 : Aaron Schoenfeld 3
0.96 : Robbie Rogers 25
0.91 : Dilly Duka 22
0.83 : Olman Vargas 6
0.83 : Rich Balchan 18
0.75 : Kevan George 4
0.75 : Milovan Mirosevic 12
0.73 : Shaun Francis 11
0.69 : Tony Tchani 13
0.64 : Eric Gehrig 11
0.60 : Kirk Urso 5

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Crew Rd. 19: Win, Again!

Jairo Arreita shines for the Crew in a reversal of fortunes on the reverse fixture.

KC jumped on the Crew just as they did a couple weeks ago. In the 8th minute Kei Kamara leaped in front of Chad Marshall and knocked in a header in off a Graham Zusi service. The lead wouldn't last long though. 10 minutes later, just as Crew fans were pondering their next hashtagged Sack Warzycha tweet, Josh Williams charged into the middle of the field from the left and passed the ball beautifully forward to a breaking Arreita. He gathered, opened and knocked it in far post. In a few ways it was similar to last weeks goal that involved Williams, Jairo and Chris Birchall.

Refreshingly, Columbus stayed on the attack and were rewarded in the 34th minuted as Zusi gave one away to a waiting Arreita who punched home a goal of the week 25 yard bomb.

Columbus performed their token attacking effort right out of the gates but nothing even remotely close came of it. After about 10 minutes they pulled back to defend only.

Sporting controlled the whole of this half, almost entirely in the Crew side of the field. KC are going to feel as if the gods were against them as they missed chance after chance right in front of goal. Andy Gruenebaum also had three magnificent saves in support of god hand that kept KC out of the net.

25 shots is what KC ended up with. 6 on target and 2 off the crossbar.


• I'll start with Cole Grossman again this week. Three starts, three wins (at what amounts to basically CDM / stopper spot). Those wins? Seattle away, DC at home, KC away. He was flawless in his role save for the late tackle on Zusi last night (that earned him a 2nd yellow and subsequent ejection).

• Poor Dwight Burgess was left alone in the virtual space booth Fox Sports Ohio puts him in. He was just as hard pressed to tell what was going on because he is watching the same sloppy "HD" broadcast we are... One nugget was that we were treated to a Tommy Heinemann substitute graphic. Good job Tommy!! Anyhow, alone or with Duncan Oughton, Dwight still calls games as if he were a youth coach and not a play by play man.

Speaking of Oughton; he was actually at the game as a assistant coach. The live pregame interview with him, while out of sync, was great. Also, the Crew pulling him in as a coach during gameday is 100% approved by me. My understanding is that he is with the team all week in training so he should be there gameday.

• On Kei's 8th minute header... the way I saw it was that Chad Marshall fouled KC, Zusi spotted it up and Kei then beat Marshall for the goal. I've been down on Marshall all year. he's just not himself. In the paper this morning I read Williams post game quote where he took the blame for the goal, saying Kei was his man. I did see Josh marking Kei all game on set pieces but if Kei was his man on that play, who was Marshall marking? The thin air behind him? I admire Williams coming out and saying that. Accountability! Leadership!

Arrieta's goals were fantastic. Two goals and an assist in his last two league matches. It's just what he needed to do after the recent "designated player" signing the club made. Perhaps it's motivation this player needs. If you look at a record of his matches you see that once he was approached by the Crew last winter (around the same time Olman Vargas was signed, the were to be a Costa Rican package-like deal) he stopped scoring altogether. I feel sort of bad for his former club... one foot out the door, so to speak. Maybe two.

Warzycha's formation is evolving. He seems to be moving a little away from the overlapping right and left wing backs into a more 4-2-3-1 which sharply turns into a 4-3-3 in attack. If you look at the average positions of Dilly Duka and Justin Meram you actually find they played just as advanced as Arrieta.

I've seen this more clearly during the last Reserve and Friendly matches when Warzycha has Aaron Schoenfeld, Olman Vargas and Emilio Renteria playing in attacking positions.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Predictions: KC v Crew

The Crew are down in KC tonight to take on Sporting. Games Starts 8:30 PM EST, 7:30 PM Central, and 9:30 PM local time in Buenos Aries, Argentina.

• Crew just played KC a couple weeks ago at home and lost.
• Unconfirmed report: Milovan Mirosevic and Danny O'Rourke didn't make the trip for Columbus
• KC missing big names this week: Aurélien Collin (face factures), Roger Espinoza (Olympics), and Chance Myers (groin).
• Crew club disruption due to new high profile signing (Fredrico Higuain) last night.


365bet.com knew something others didn't last week (odds on Crew win) so we'll start with them. Leaning heavily towards a KC win. Looking like 1:0 or 2:0 for Sporting. Normal likelihood odds of draw in MLS (11/4).

Drew Epperley at WV Hooligan has it as a 1:0 KC win. "Columbus will keep this one tight but I don’t like their chances on the road," says Mr. Epperley.

Goal.com game preview scribe Zac Lee Rigg isn't calling the game and not enough voting on the fan vote to call this one anything other than close.

"Kansas City's quality in attack will give them a victory in front of a big home crowd." - Aaron Katzeman, Massive Report game preview. There is some optimism in the fan poll this week, but not enough votes to clearly call it.

WinDrawWin is gushing with Sporting! 56% chance of win for KC. Highest I've seen this year.

On top of covering the Higuain signing, Adam Jardy takes the time to peer into the crystal ball enough to call this one a Draw. He says it'll happen "if the Crew can eliminate the mistakes that hindered" the Crew last time out against KC.

Side note... buy the Dispatch paper, the website is atrocious. Michael Arace has a good piece on Higuain in today's paper as well.


Looks like this one is leaning greatly towards KC. I'm not sold.

KC is a very stout club this year. Only 21 players have seen MLS league minutes for them (best in the league) compared to 26 for Columbus (25 is league median). The reason I mention this is because, well...

Stability: teams with concrete starting lineups and healthy players win in this league. Sporting, RSL, Chicago, Houston all keep the number of guys seeing minutes down (less than 23) and are near the top of the table.

Unstable teams (teams that wrongly throw people at a problem, ie. losing): Montreal, Philly, Portland, Dallas (all have had 27+ players see MLS minutes).

Columbus falls slightly on the poor side of stable. Staying healthy isn't by luck. It's through proper training and having the right trainers, physicians and doctors (available or on staff). I despise the phrase "caught the injury bug". I also despise the fact that Columbus has chosen the wrong time to get experimental with their lineups even when enough players are available to back fill positions.

The lineup experimentation Warzycha and Co. has created a degree of instability with this year's club. You can see that in the game to game level of play. For example: their level of play two weeks ago vs. KC wasn't poor but the lineup change directly lead to both the loss (2 goals off mistakes) and to injury (Benardo Anor and almost Josh Williams).

Were this anywhere but in KC, I would expect a draw or Crew win because KC are missing three of their key cogs. But that wishful thinking and doesn't get us anywhere. Just like I wish Columbus would make a impactful signing instead of one with too many questions as to the quality of player.

As it is, this game is at home for KC. Blue Hell, as they say. I expect a handcuffed Crew and a KC win. Going to take some individual Crew brilliance to, at the very least, pull this one up to a draw.

Justin Meram has been close and his confidence is returning. Eddie Gaven is in form. Emilio Renteria has looked great playing out wide in a Reserve match and against Stoke. Are Aaron Horton and/or Ben Speas going to get a chance to be special again?

Whose it going to be?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Robert Huth v. Columbus Crew

Still working through the Stoke City / Columbus Crew match... Now, keeping in mind that I'm six and a half feet tall, one thing that struck me was the size of Stoke players. It's something that you hear all year long watching the club but seeing them live was impressive.

I think it was Ryan Shawcross that pulled Josh Williams (listed at 6'2" 192 lbs) backwards on a corner so hard that his legs flipped up as if he was doing a bicycle kick.

Josh alluded to that play when speaking with the Columbus Dispatch's Adam Jardy after the game:

I tried to head it and all of a sudden he grabbed my neck and it ended up looking like a bicycle kick,” he said. “That wasn’t planned at all. That was going to be a regular header and I thought I got ripped down. I’ve got to look back at it but that’s got to be a PK. I was already a little contorted and he ripped me (down).”

Matt (mossrobot, go there) mentioned in an email exchange that he was "surprised Shawcross didn't get a red card." I'm surprised as well. That statement could follow just about every Stoke game for me, I guess. Tony Pulis has these guys programmed such that, when they foul... you know it.

I've been messing around with 8-bit inspired stuff for some time now. This particular photo stuck me as one to go with. Robert Huth is huge, big like an end boss on some forgotten Sega Master System game. So this felt natural enough. I just didn't go full 8-bit with it (using GIMP).

I've always thought that Eddie Gaven had the tools to play just about where ever he wanted if he (and his agent?) were ambitious enough. During the Stoke friendly he was very active and looked very comfortable. Part of me wants to believe that he wanted to spark the interest of Stoke. Eddie only played in the first half but he found himself in excellent spots. He's often overlooked because of his demeanor but against Stoke he looked inspired.

Make no mistake. Eddie Gaven is the shinning gem on this club. He is at the peak of his powers and will be for a few more years. I'll know all I need to know about you if you don't list Eddie amongst the best. Not just on the Columbus Crew but in Major League Soccer.

This illustration has him at the feet of a massive Robert Huth. That seems to run a bit contrary to what I've written here about Eddie but in a strange way fitting.

A rusty but full strength Stoke side controlled the first 45 of this match. It could have easily been 2 or 3-0 at the half but it wasn't. All of the Crew side played hard. I don't know, somehow this illustration tries to capture what Columbus ran up against over and over. But you know what? They didn't stop running up against Stoke and their giants. The got up and tried again, again and again.

"If you step on the field thinking you’re just going to survive, don’t go step on the field.

- Robert Warzycha, during a moment of unusual clarity after the Stoke City friendly. It's exactly the type of approach you better take going up against Stoke. Preseason or not.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ben Speas Goal v. Stoke City

I'll probably do a few illustrations from the Stoke game at Crew Stadium last night. Still trying to process it. The goal Ben Speas had was pretty amazing. Were it a league match it would be a candidate for "goal of the week".

Almost 9,000 on hand to watch a friendly. Good stuff. It seems the closer the Crew gets to fielding a side filled with regional players the fuller Crew Stadium gets. It doesn't hurt that those players are playing well either.

Talked a bit about Ben Speas at the end of my last post. From what I've seen of him confident that he'll be a good MLS player in the attacking half of the field if given the chance.

Monday, July 23, 2012

All Ohio, Major League Soccer

There are currently 17 men from Ohio playing in Major League Soccer. Only two States and two (entire) countries have more.

1. California (60)
2. Colombia (33)
3. Texas (24)
4. Canada (23)
5. Ohio (17)

That's more than vaunted footballing states such as Florida (16), New York (15) and New Jersey (11). Also more than Brasil (16), Jamaica (12) and Mexico (10).

There's an Ohioan on 12 of the 19 MLS clubs.

16 of the 17 Ohioans have seen MLS minutes this year. The only one not to have seen time? Ben Speas (Stats, Inc has Aaron Horton coming from Connecticut).

MLS Ohioans have averaged 921 minutes to a man. That's good enough for 2nd best state/country in the league with over 10+ players.

My fellow Virginians have seven players averaging 1002 mins per game. FYI. PSA.

Ohio produces Goalkeepers and Defensive players. If you were to compile a list of 2012 Ohio All-stars at those positions it would look like this (my MLS player ratings are in the right hand nav of this blog):

GK: Troy Perkins : Springfield, Ohio : POR
D: Justin Morrow : Cleveland, Ohio : SJE
D: Marc Burch : Cincinnati, Ohio : SEA
D: Austin Berry : Cincinnati, Ohio : CHI
D: Josh Williams : Copley, Ohio : CREW

On the bench you would have Dallas 'keeper Kevin Hartman. At central defensive mid; Danny O'Rourke, Ben Zemanski and Chris Rolfe. In other words, not many would score on this club.

The Columbus Crew are right in the middle of all this talent. Admittedly, the Crew are good and identifying talent, but can't develop it. It could be said that their eyes are also bigger than their stomachs. How so? Here are a few examples using the few I mentioned above:

Justin Morrow (official 2012 MLS All Star) was passed up by the Crew in favor of Bright Dike a couple years ago (Bright is bouncing around, still). Columbus picked up Burch in 2006-07 where he rode the pine. From there he put in work with DC, he's now back with Sigi in Seattle and is a major contributor to their success.

Austin Berry's path is more direct. He was identified and snatched up by Chicago early on and Chicago pulled the trigger on him just one pick ahead of his Chicago Premier teammate, Ethan Finlay.

Ohio is lacking in the attacking positions, but that just so happens to be the beauty of a sport that relies so much on the gooey inner workings of its players.

Ohio is precisely representative of her soccer playing product.

New products being forged from a land known for her old manufacturing majesty just might be producing objects of high enough quality to spread across the oceans. Just in a slightly different world of export. Just might. Just maybe.

The United States has struggled in the global marketplace that is soccer. Perhaps it is destiny that the places that made this country industrially great in the past, make great soccer players in the future.

I've got one player breaking the Ohio defensive player mold here though. A Mr. Ben Speas. I've seen him play now a few times in scrimmages and reserve league matches. He is an attacking threat that has a future playing in MLS at a high level. Let's hope it's with Columbus.

Stoke in Columbus

It takes the right music and the right scotch to get me talking about Stoke City. Since I have neither at the moment so I'll just say that I'm excited that Stoke will be playing my hometown team here in Columbus tomorrow night. I can't imagine a better (or a more strange, randomly occurring) event for me.

Stoke's history (both club and culture) is required reading and the Potters recent success under Peter Coates and Tony Pulis provide a blueprint that Columbus Crew could build further upon.

#1 Stoke City fan (in the USA)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Crew Round 18, Win Over DC

There was a combined total of 30 shots taken between DC and Columbus, but Chris Birchall's goal right after the break ended up the only goal for either side.

Another big crowd on hand in Columbus. 17k+.

Columbus looked to be in control and DC never quite looked comfortable. United's Chris Korb, another Northeastern Ohio boy, appeared to be the man on a mission but his team didn't seem to be able to muster up quality in front of goal.

United's open style of play helped the Crew look better than in games previous but Columbus couldn't find that finishing quality either.

Straight off the whistle the Crew came out aggressive and was able to grab one not more than 2 minutes in. Josh Williams found Arietta in the middle who forwarded pretty on to Birchall for the finish. Two quick ground passes right up the middle, one touch, shot... goal. Direct and good.

DC turned up the pressure from there and created excellent chances, but again, the quality to finish just wasn't there. Once the 75th minute arrived the game turned into little bursts of energy here and there. Chris Korb and Long Tan had great chances right at the end but this game didn't deserve those to go and they didn't.

• Cole Grossman deserves special recognition. His play (before his leg tightened up) was excellent. Two Cole starts, two impressive wins (Seattle and DC). He's looked better than Milovan Mirosevic in a number of ways. We'll chalk that up to being more familiar with Robert Warzycha's system... for now.

• Chad Marshall looked a lot more active and energetic than last week (until he went down with, sigh, an ankle injury).

• Beside Marshall was Carlos Mendes, who easily played his best game of the year for the Crew. He looked like a MLS top tier defender; understated, intelligent and aggressive.

• On United's side; Chris Korb's future will be bright if keeps playing like this.

• Dilly Duka had one of those games that makes everyone get excited about his future. I want to see 5 games in a row during the meat of a season. This season, preferably.

• Speaking of former Generations Adidas players; No Tchani in the starting XI for the first time in a while.

• Important to note again that DC's style of play helps opposing teams look better in the middle (DC practically abandons the middle third during large swaths of the match). The Crew get another shot at KC, a club that handcuffed them last time, this weekend. We shall see if Warzycha gives this bunch another chance.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Predictions: Crew v. DC

#3 in the East, DC United, will be visiting Columbus tonight to take on the 6th place Crew. Game starts at 7:30 PM EST and the weather looks to be perfect. Clear and in the 70s. Game on!


• Starters missing for each team due to Red Card suspension (GK Hamid DC and ST Renteria for Crew).
• DC is a goal scoring Juggernaut this year, averaging almost 2 goals a game.
• 8 of 19: # of games DC has scored above 2 goals in a game
• 0 of 17: # of games Crew has scored above 2
• Neither team scored in their last game
• Crew not scoring in 35% of games, DC 21%
• DC had a midweek game at Houston. It was not pretty for them and was their worst loss of the year (4:0)
Warzycha making a habit of losing 3 in a row? It has happened twice in the last 25 games. Before that it only happened once in the previous 92 (dating back to when he first took over).


No prediction from Goal.com's Keith "dead-on" Hickey this week, but the fan poll in his preview shows a lean towards DC. Only 17% think the Crew will pull this one off. 66% think DC will win this sucker.

Finally some separation from the MLSsoccer.com "Pick 'Em" bunch. After everyone hanging around 40% accuracy most of the year, their Managing Editor has fallen behind. The consensus is a Win for DC or Draw (no one picking the Crew this week).

Bet365.com is again going with the home team here. 11/8 odds in favor of the Crew, 2/1 for DC. Noticing a trend here at this site. Home team. Interesting that a Draw is least likely... Because;

WinDrawWin says there is a large stake on 2:2 Draw. Neither club has drawn in a while. Crew haven't in last 4, DC in last 7. That is unusual.

The neighbors over at Pitch Fest (Jenn Eyer) have the Crew going down 1:2 and the fan predictor at the Crew's SB Nation site has 70% of the folks going with DC. In the accompanying article, Aaron Katzeman has DC winning 2:0.

Lastly, WV Hooligan's Drew Epperley has DC winning this one out by the same score Katzeman's got. 2:0.


DC has a strong club this year but tends to not play well in Columbus. I like that Justin Meram will likely be in an attacking role. He's creative but on the ball he relies on confidence. Had he not been grossly mishandled over the past month, he would have buried both his close chances last week.

Looking like Meram's partner will be Jario Arrieta. If this happens I expect Meram to be spending time dropping back and helping in the middle while Arrieta looks to poach one up top. I think poaching is the only way Arrieta will score in this league right now as he is unable to get open or find the right spots in attack (this includes the time I saw him play in the reserve game against NE Revs).

Adam Jardy has Josh Williams returning to CB along sided Chad Marshall and Nemanja Vukovic and Sebastian Miranda returning to Right and Left Backs. Speaking of Jardy... he has a generally optimistic outlook on today's game, calling this one a possible "turning point" if things fall into place. He qualifies that statement with "big ifs" though.

The job tonight for the Crew is simple. Limit DC to one goal or less and put two by the patched up defense and back up keeper DC has in there (Joe Willis). DC's confidence was busted last game. Columbus must rattle their cage early and often.

I think the Crew can pull this one off. I would prefer Olman Vargas against DC because he can find space and he has a habit of dropping back to support the midfield (the Crew will need that). Even if it is 30 yards out, at least Vargas can get the ball (looking at you Schoenfeld and you, Finlay).

As it is... DC lets the game flow which will help Columbus play an attractive game. Fans and Supporters will be pacified by that.

Going to call a 4 goal draw here. 2:2.

Here I was writing about a positive result against a top team and I pop over to the Crew.com to read that Arrieta and Vargas possibly starting up top? What? How long has it been since they regularly played together, couple years right? and Williams over Miranda at RB? Who will be in he middle?? HUMAN SACRIFICE, DOGS AND CATS LIVING TOGETHER. LOCUSTS, HAILSTORMS, BOILS AND DARKNESS. ARRRGGGH.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Warzycha, Thoughts On

Robert Warzycha coached Crew teams have progressively gotten worse in wins, goals and goal difference over the past 3 years. These are trends that need course correction.

Points per game:
2010 : 1.67
2011 : 1.38
2012 : 1.29

Goals per Game:
2010 : 1.33
2011 : 1.26
2012 : 1.00

Goal Difference per game:
2010 : 0.20
2011 : -0.03
2012 : -0.12

These three metrics are always in the back of my mind so when I read the quotes in the Columbus Dispatch it leads me to think that some of the problems are organizationally systemic.

From the club GM I read about wishful thinking: "I want [Warzycha] to be...", then got to hear about excuses: "...look at the situation we’ve been in this season..."

GM Mark McCullers should have told the paper that important games were coming up and that there is probably a local gardening event coming up they should get on. But he didn't. Whhyyyyy?

The Crew need to improve on the pitch, that much is for sure. But please remember, true believers... this is the United States of America. No promotion or relegation and a playoff system that retains a paying public's interest all year. The Crew gate receipts over last few home games have been astonishing. Vastly improved. When you consider how dire attendance was last year, some might call this attendance turnaround a victory on the level of trophies.

As much as I would like to think that results were on the top of Mark McCullers' list, I know they are not. The club might be painfully average but they have somehow managed to strike gold with some popular and promising young players that people want to see.

This is both fortunate and unfortunate for Warzycha and will be very interesting to see how he manages it through the rest of the year.

I could post damning numbers over and over but it will not change the fact that the Crew finally have relatively large crowds coming back to watch the team play - which means, Warzycha is here to stay.

(No DP necessary?)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Crew Collective, Writers and Artists

Over the past couple years I've realized that there is an impressive bunch of Crew writers, photographers, artists, and poets out there. In fact, I'd venture to say that the Columbus Crew have more than any Major League Soccer Club out there.

Not long ago, I thought it was only a handful but as I kept checking bookmarks, favored posts, etc... I noticed the list was quite expansive.

In fact, I noticed there were enough to fill a soccer club. So... instead of listing out each writer and a sentence or two about what I appreciate about what they do, I decided to go a more interesting route.

If you are familiar with it, go to EA's FIFA 12 Creation Centre and download the following team (yes, it really exists. Well, as "really" as digital things can be real):

(The real Massive City can be found here)

Position : Name : Country

GK : Rick Gethin : Wales
LWB : Ryan Kozlowski : Poland
CB : Craig Merz : Germany
CB : Matt Bernhardt : Germany
RWB : Steve Sirk : Slovenia
CDM : Billy Sasquatch : USA
LM : Massive City FFC : Italy
CAM : David Burgin : England
RM : Patrick Guldan : Slovenia
F : Aaron Katzeman : Germany
F : Chris LaMacchia : Italy
GK : T-Bone : USA
CB : Shawn Mitchell : USA
CDM : Jenn Eyer : England
CAM : Cody Sharrett : English
RM : Adam Jardy : Scottish
F : Sam Fahmi : Egypt
CB : Larry Johnson : USA

I had such a great time putting this together. Again, I just didn't realize that there were this many.

This list isn't even complete. There are still a few more to add even (audio / radio guys, Massive Report Podcast folks, Matt Goshert and others being big omissions). We'll consider this a mid-season 'beta'. I promise to have a complete team for the release of FIFA 13 in a couple months time.

About the team:

• I used last name as player origin. Such great last names on this list so it was hard to resist.

• Writing style dictates player attributes. FIFA 12's online creation center allows for dozens of modifiable skills and traits so each player is different based on how I feel they write.

• Examples: Merz and Sirk are official Crew.com writers. Defenders of the Throne, (so to speak) therefore, I have them in the back line. Bernhardt starts in the back because of his deep understanding of the team and because I like having another German in front of goal.

• Gethin at GK seems to me to be a comfortable fit. I always thought Gethin was German as well, but it seems it is more directly Welsh. Eyer, who also writes with Gethin at Pitch Fest for the Hudson Street Hooligans, is a beautiful surname. Old English, from what I can tell.

• A few others: Burgin is the teams creative mid. Katzeman will get yer goals, Kozlowski will make sure you DO NOT LOSE.

• I hope Massive City forgives me for using the name in a virtual space. Lots of respect on this side of town and the name was used out of that respect (and awesomeness).

• In case there is some medieval angst out there, "Jardy" is phonetic spelling variation of "Hardy", which is Scottish for "brave".

Everyone on this list has been designed with care and meant to just be a more interesting way to post a "blog roll"!

It's very important to have multiple voices out there for the Crew. Be it with the written word, visual or audio. The health of any club practically depends on it.

I realize I'm speaking to a very, very select few that cover the club and play video games so if you have questions please let me know: ljbaby654@gmail.com.

XBOX Live: sirljownsu

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Speedy Recovery, Bernardo

Bernardo Anor fell awkwardly after a Kei Kamara tackle last weekend and news out of the Crew offices is torn ACL. Out 8-10 months, they say. That puts him back just in time for 2013 training camp.

I've rated Bernardo very highly here in this space. His age, training background, football savvy and talent make him so - but even beyond all that are good numbers.

Even with Saturday's loss to Sporting KC, the Crew has averaged 1.73 Points per Game when Anor starts (dating back to the start of last year). Best on the team for players over 10 starts. The closest player to him who is actually playing this year is Andy Gruenebaum at 1.47.

He's 3rd on the team as far as goals against (1.00 per game) and 4th best in goal difference.

I reckon what I'm trying to say here is that he contributes to positive results and from all accounts (helping along Olman Vargas, taking on a new position), he is a good dude.

(He also must be a tough sonofabitch 'cause he played on that torn ACL for half an hour.)

Hoping he gets well soon.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Crew Round 17. Lost.

Unsurprisingly, a few hours of practice together wasn't enough as a "new look" Columbus side loses to top club, Sporting KC.

Bernardo Anor; 1st MLS start at LB
Josh Williams; 1st MLS start at RB
Eric Gehrig / Chad Marshall; 1st CB pairing since April 21st.

All totaled, since the beginning last year Gehrig and Marshall are 2W, 2D, 3L when starting as a pair at CB.

Recent signing, Jairo Arrieta, also got his first league appearance and start of the year up top for the Crew.

Peter Vermes' Sporting KC club came out in full attack mode and literally ambushed the green back four of the Crew. It only took six minutes for KC to break though and after which, were content in easing off the attack and pressuring Columbus in the middle third.

Columbus has no answers in the middle part of the pitch.

KC continued to hold off on the attack and pressure the ball in the middle part of the park. Again, the Crew had no answers.

Once Columbus got more aggressive late on another goal game for KC. 2:0 Final.

• Most of KC's games look like the one last night. Unattractive but effective.

• Columbus should have been prepared for KC's style of play, yet the looked surprised by it. Their match preparedness, even outside of the lineup changes in personnel, was poor.

• Fan's might have not liked it but a 5th mid-fielder is what the Crew needed. Chicago has beaten KC twice this year by using an extra mid.

• Kei Kamara was a man amongst boys last night.

• Speaking of Kamara: KC "bullied" the Crew for much of the 2nd half. It is the Crew Captain who needs to step in and put a stop to it.

• Chad Marshall looked lethargic and slow. No urgency and seemed perfectly content to defer to Eric Gehrig to distribute out of the back. Marshall seems to want to disappear more than be out front of this team. This is a problem. A very big problem.

“Yes! I am the most boring interview ever!” – Chad Marshall, arms triumphantly raised in the air, upon being told that Gol TV had no further questions after a very brief (and presumably boring) interview.

- Sirk's Notebook. April 6th, 2012.

• I don't have any problems with putting your best players and athletes on the field but just throwing them out there and expecting it to work is foolish.

• It is unfair how Anor and Williams were jammed in last night. It is also unfair to Sebastian Miranda and Nemanja Vukovic, who were benched* presumably for not performing something correctly.

• Warzycha and Co. are making fundamental managerial mistakes. Here is a quick list:

1. Throwing people at a problem
2. Unpreparedness
3. Team effort level
4. Not properly identifying problems and weaknesses
5. Using a team position (roll) as punishment*

*I could go on, but I'm going to stop at that last one. Number 5. Warzycha has benched two players (that I know of) as punishment. As a coach or manager or leader you cannot do this. Being a substitute is a JOB on the team. A very important roll. You need your subs to be motivated and ready to go and cheering on the guys out on the pitch.

Regularly using benching as player punishment is a cop out and creates a cesspool of a club. It's what bad managers do. You've probably seen this type of thing in at work (moving poor employees from department to department instead of addressing problem) or in school (using extra homework as punishment. Good job, good effort teachers).

Players need to be dealt with directly and Coached. What is the message Warzycha is sending to his substitute players? This is where I put crappy players I don't like? I don't get it.

It could be that Warzycha's lineup changes are acts of a desperate man.

Columbus has a brutal schedule coming up and this could get ugly.



Saturday, July 14, 2012

Predictions: Crew v. Sporting KC

The Columbus Crew host KC tonight at 730 PM. Forecasters are calling for rain off and on today and temps will be in the mid- to low 70s (in other words, excellent conditions).

• Both clubs are defensive minded and have top MLS goalkeepers in Andy Gruenebuam and Jimmy Nielsen.
• Offensively, KC are middle of the pack (1.28 GF p/GM) while Columbus is more towards the bottom.
• It appears that Crew stadium just about sold out tonight. Crew Stadium is a fortress when large crowds are on hand.


We'll start with the places that have been most accurate with the Crew over the past couple matches:

365bet.com has the Crew favored to win 13/10 odds. A 0:1 Crew result has 6/1 odds. Last week it correctly favored Montreal.

The fan predictor over all Goal.com was dead on the score last week. This week I see the fan prediction as a 1:0 Crew win.

Now for the others:

Staying on the same Goal.com page, Keith Hickey, has the KC winning easily at 2:0.

The fan vote at windrawwin.com (don't go there) has KC coming out on top.

The dudes over at MLSsoccer.com see it as a Draw (4 picks of 6). Matt Doyle, Armchair Analyst picks the Crew to win.

Drew Epperley over at WV Hooligan has this one down as a Crew win but for all the wrong reasons: "I do see this as a slight trap game for Sporting," he says. Not sure the Crew are bad enough to be considered as a "trap team" but, whatever.

Last week I called for a messy game if Marshall, Mirosevic and Jario Arrieta saw time. As it turned out Arrieta didn't see time (because of administrative failures, not due to fitness). It still featured the other two and it contributed to a poor outing for the Crew.

This week looks to feature Marshall and Arrieta but no Mirosevic. Again, makes for disjointedness if Arrieta starts. However, reports are saying the talisman Danny O'Rourke may be back in the starting XI for the Crew. If so, I would expect a Crew win or Draw regardless of what the Crew do with Arrieta.

I've written about what Danny adds to the team before (by the numbers).

There are also some signs that Justin Meram will get the nod today. If so, that bodes well for the Crew. What Warzycha did (sitting him) when he was in the midst of a three goals in three games streak last month was completely unexceptionable and borderline incompetent.

Bonus thoughts here come from our friendly neighborhood masked Crewsader, beat writer Adam Jardy; "Warzycha has been toying with his back four this week, which could pose problems defending," he says. Jardy mentions Benardo Anor at left back (over Vukovic) and Josh Williams over Sebastian Miranda at right.

If it's true that Warzycha is looking to blow up his back line it could be a long night for Columbus.

CREW 0 : 2 KC

Thursday, July 12, 2012

[crossing the streams here a bit but, proud. have seen each inch of this facility put together. both of the guys mentioned in the piece are on my team. great dudes, work hard, and proud to do what they do here in Ohio. same ideals that i hope come across in my little nook here]

The Captain and #10

There is an uneasy feeling floating around the Columbus Crew right now because he club is just about halfway through the season and disappointingly in battle for a playoff spot with no sign of a consistent starting group on the horizon.

This inconsistency in lineup is most glaringly obvious with Crew's appointed "field generals," Mirosevic and Marshall. Both were absent during most of the successful six game run that saved this season so both of them are well below team averages in every major statistical category (Marshall finishing last in most of them).

It is a real problem that Mirosevic (the team's number 10) and Marshall (team Captain) aren't playing in every game. Mirosevic has missed 4 of 16 starts already (with another missed start coming this weekend) and Marshall has missed 8 of 16.

We are talking about two really good players here but combined they have missed nearly 40% of the season. Put that together with poor results when they are in the lineup and you have a host of problems.

Player profile pieces and "can't see it in the numbers" quotes from the team staff on the club's website and in the local paper aren't going to change results.

Their effort level and performances haven't met expectations but Mirosevic and Marshall have to be on the field each gameday because they have been chosen by the club to lead.

So they better damn well get out there and do just that.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Red Lettered Balchan Lettering

Who is Your Worst Enemy or Greatest Allie?

Richard Balchan's last game for the Columbus Crew was sometime before the end of last year. The exact date doesn't matter, just matters that it has been a while.

I keep a list of things I would like to write about and "Columbus Crew Starting Lineup by most Twitter Followers" has been sitting there for a while. So after work I decided that today was the day to do some superficial Crew stuff. Fired up the computer machine and looked up the ever so meaningful twitter data to complete my post...

Urso: 765, Finlay: 1163. Check. Check. Eric Gehrig: 1317, those tweets about his cat are getting him somewhere... Duka: 702, hey computers are people too... Balchan: ?

R-i-c-h-a-r-d_B-a-l-c-h-a-n: [click] [click] [searches conversations, mentions] [click]

It struck me as strange that I couldn't find Richard as he has been tweeting up a storm over the past month about his walk in life. I liked it. It reminded me a bit of my time in Buies Creek, North Carolina where I attended college at the (then) second largest Southern Baptist college in the nation (FIGHTING CAMELS).

Something like Balchan giving his soul searching testimonial (and walk) to his Twitter "followers" was akin to what was talked about twice a week during mandatory "Cultural Enrichment Program" (chapel) or at Wednesday night bible study at my college. Heck, the Baptist Student Union (BSU) ate testimonials for breakfast.

On one night during a large group outing to the Raleigh Krispy Kreme (near Peace College), BSU had one such testimonial that sent a student darting off into the darkness. Never to be seen again.

True story.

Anyhow, as of right now Richard Balchan's account is gone. GONE. Just when it was really getting interesting.

Balchan is clearly struggling through multiple sports hernia surgeries. I can only imagine the frustration. Richard showed lots of talent last year (EA's FIFA 12 and Football Manager 12 rated him above average as well (and I type that with a straight face)). I wish him the best - all the best, and most of the other Crew fans and supporters out there do too. When he get's healthy we'll see him back on the pitch for sure.

Before he left the world of Twitter he did leave us with a couple posts on a Wordpress blog that will probably soon be deleted, so I will re-post his "Balchan Rap".

First Rap ever made (by: Rich Balchan)

They say they can’t read me, bitchin

That’s cuz they only readin’ mothafuckin fiction,

Yes I’m insulting your intuition, and I ain’t trippin

Man all I’m saying is I have this vision

But that’s life man, everyones on a mission,

In the midst of this vision, cookin’ up dreams in their

Mystical kitchen, but in life things gon’ fail, back to movin slow like a snail,

then its back to the lab, man I’m itchin’ like a scab,

cuz I want it, but I ain’t gon’ flaunt it,

cuz pride will haunt me, hidden from the devil’s flauntin,

but then comes evil, to trick the fool, you think you live, cuz you feel cool, no longer in this lull

Truth is, you victimized by the bulllll

Shit man His horns got you, the devil’s foothold, but like clay you can change your mold, before you grow OLD, faced by the cold, then graced by the LORD, ultimate salvation, vacation, HEAVEN!

Amen, Richard.

So...Q: Who is Your Worst Enemy or Greatest Allie?

A: You.

Posted this illustration a year ago last month here:
Never underestimate the power of a single goal in soccer at any level.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Crew Rd. 16, Fall to Montreal

BAD NEWS FIRST: The Crew are currently standing at an astonishingly low 1.06 goals for per game. How low is that? Tied (2005) for the worst goal scoring average the club history.

Only 17 teams in Major League Soccer history have finished with less than a 1.06 GF average.

THE GOOD NEWS: The Crew are only allowing 1.06 goals against per game. Only 16 teams have finished better than that. Bizarrely, 5 of the 16 are 2012 clubs. Eh? Going to have to take a look at the archives now...

After the 2008 year the floor dropped out from under Major League Soccer and goal scoring changed.

1996 - 2008 each team averaged around 1.50 goals for per game. Since then:

2009: 1.27
2010: 1.23
2011: 1.29248
2012: 1.29239

The way MLS is structured now, defensive minded teams make the playoffs. Last year's LA team only allowed 0.82 per game and the 2010 Rapids: 1.07. Having a strong defense is magnified by the the lack of Draws league wide. In fact, only 22% of 2012 games have ended in a tie this year. That's the lowest since 2002 and a 12 pt. drop from 34% last year(!). Hm. Some drop there.

Some might say too much of a drop to have happened on its own.

Robert Warzycha has the defense part down as a head coach. Only one team has scored more than two on his club this year.

Unfortunately two is enough to beat Crew v2012... Montreal put up two on the Crew yesterday which means there are only two possible results from that a Warzycha coached team can achieve; a Loss or a Draw.

Columbus has lost 4 of the 5 games where the opponent has scored 2 or more - and drawn only one. Last year they lost 8 of 10 (and 2 drawn) when the bad guys scored two. You have to go back to May 8th, 2010 to find a 3:2 Crew victory.


Hell, MLS is all weird.

...the Montreal game.

Columbus was outplayed for most of the game and there was very little cohesiveness betwixt the starting XI. My patience is running out for a couple experienced players. Too many missed games and inconsistency in effort level (Mirosevic).

Marco Di Vaio looked great for the IMPACT in the 2nd half and Zarek Valentin's goal was dope.

Not dope was Chris Birchall's foul in the box at the death. It was funny looking though.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Montreal v. Crew Predictions

Columbus travels to Montreal tomorrow to take on le IMPACT! so before we get to predictions let's take a look at game notes:

1. Montreal: Davy Arnaud and Felipe Martins not playing. 6 goals and 8 assists between them.
2. Columbus playing in Montreal for the first time.
3. Crew won 2:0 earlier this year in a poorly played home opener at Crew Stadium.
4. Montreal last 5 at home: LWWLL,
5. 21 goals in last 5 games in Montreal. 10 goals for 11 against (this is a lot of scoring)
6. DDWDL, last 5 Crew away games and only allowed 3 goals in that time.
7. Montreal has most goals from the spot this year (5)

0:0 Draw
Drew Epperley, WV Hooligan
"The Crew are better than most expect them to be but their offense still has some issues."

MLSsoccer.com is leaning Crew...
Draw: Greg Lalas
Crew: Jonah Freedman
Crew: Nick Firchau
Crew: Matt Doyle
Draw: Jason Saghini
Crew: Andrew Wiebe

Bet365.com is leaning Montreal 5/4 odds... but, to be honest, it looks like a standard line for a soccer match at this level. For what it's worth, the most likely score is 1:1 (5/1 odds).

0:0 Draw
Goal.com, Zac Lee Rigg
"This game may come too soon for new Impact addition Alessandro Nesta but fellow Italian Marco Di Vaio should feature." The fan predictor thingy on this page has Montreal winning 2:1

+2 Crew (or a sloppy draw)
Montreal has proven to be leaky, especially at home (see notes above). I can safely say I've never predicted a 3 goal Crew game before but this might be one. Montreal might press for goals against a stingy Crew team and that would be a tactical mistake. Warzycha will nab two goals and drop into a shell if that's the case.

However, if Columbus decides to mess with the chemistry that has seen them in good form as of late then things might change for the worse. To start Jario Arrieta, Milovan Mirosevic and Chad Marshall means this one might get pulled down to a 1:1 draw with both goals coming from the penalty spot.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

7 Standout Crew Players (so far)

There is not any one stat or per game metric that paints a full picture - but pulling together a bunch will get you close.

The numbers on the left are team per game averages when that player is in the starting lineup.

Nemanja's strong number is in Goal Difference. When you compare him to the player he replaced (Shaun Francis, -0.33 GD) you see that all his performance metrics are measurably better.
Games Started: 9 (3W, 4D, 2L)
1.44 : Pts per Game (PPG)
1.11 : Goals For per Game (GF)
0.78 : Goals Against per Game (GA)
0.33 : Goal Difference per Game (GD)

Danny gets knocked for not scoring goals but the team's GF average goes up when he starts, go figure. The + GD he carries is also impressive.
Games Started: 9 (4W 3D 2L)
1.67 : PPG
1.22 : GF
0.78 : GA
0.44 : GD

The only thing separating Danny and Josh here is games started. Josh has one more.
Games Started: 10 (4W 4D 2L)
1.60 : PPG
1.20 : GF
0.80 : GA
0.40 : GD

Same thing could be said for the next three players: All of the metrics I list here are the team's averages because the three of them have started each game. I would like to see the GF go up but as long as they stay above water on GD, it's all good.
Games Started: 15 (6W 4D 5L)
1.47 : PPG
1.07 : GF
1.00 : GA
0.07 : GD

Games Started: 15 (6W 4D 5L)
1.47 : PPG
1.07 : GF
1.00 : GA
0.07 : GD

Games Started: 15 (6W 4D 5L)
1.47 : PPG
1.07 : GF
1.00 : GA
0.07 : GD

Yes, Emilio. He somehow dodged two of the club's loses in his 12 starts - so what sets him apart is his points earned per game (1.75). Putting it another way; he's earned 21 points while starting 12 and the team as a whole are on 22 pts in 15 games. This is the reverse of how it was for him last year.
Games Started: 12 (6W 3D 3L)
1.75 : PPG
1.25 : GF
1.00 : GA
0.25 : GD

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Josh Williams (talent+romanticism)

Chad Marshall took part in last Sunday's Reserve Game in NY which points towards a possible start this weekend in Montreal. He is likely to replace (Akron, OH born) Josh Williams.

Williams has become a favored player here at Helltown. In fact, I've got non-soccer watching co-workers and friends regularly asking me about how "the Cleveland guy" is doing (I've also heard "the BronBron guy" and "JWill" even "Ash's boyfriend" (long story)). No doubt that there is an incredible amount of affection for everything Cleveland around these parts and those that have that affection gravitate towards things from that area.

In a way, it's almost as if Williams is manufacturing mistake. Like a product of an Akron factory that normally only stamps quarter panels for the Chevy Cruze inadvertently stamping something that belongs on a Cadillac Ciel prototype.

Now, the guy Williams is filling in for is a Crew Legend and two time MLS defensive player of the year (Chad Marshall) who, in the off season, signed a contract that keeps him in Columbus till the end of his career.

There is no question that, when fully recovered, Marshall will start so the only remaining questions will be who starts next to him and who should start next to him.

First question is easy; Julius James will fill the other center back spot. The 2nd question? Who should start there? Let's take a look...

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) since the start of 2011

50 : Team Max
40 : Chad
34 : Julius
10 : Josh

GOALS AGAINST PER GAME (when starting)
0.80 : Josh
1.12 : Julius
1.20 : Team Avg.
1.33 : Chad

GOALS FOR PER GAME (when starting)
1.20 : Josh
1.16 : Team Avg.
1.15 : Julius
1.15 : Chad

1.60 : Josh
1.43 : Team Avg.
1.38 : Julius
1.28 : Chad

Summary Points:
• Josh has started in 20% of games since 2011 start
• Josh leads both Julius and Chad in every major KPI
• Josh leads team averages in every major KPI
• Chad is last in every major KPI


Chad Marshall is making $310k a year. He is the highest paid player on the Crew and 21st highest paid in Major League Soccer (in 95th percentile). As a defensive player, he is only behind Rafa Marquez in salary.

Julius James pulls in $100k a year. That puts him at 195th in the league in terms of salary. 13th on the Crew.

Josh Williams makes $44k a year... tied for 2nd lowest contract in the league (143 players make at or below him, ahh MLS you stifling "stack ranking" bastard).


It only gets down right strange for Marshall if we just look at 2012 stats. Were he not Captain, I wouldn't put this much weight into such a small sample set... Chad's 7 starts saw the Crew only go for 2 wins, 4 loses and 1 draw. Williams 10 starts have seen 4 wins and 4 drawn, only 2 losses. You could even argue that Williams has seen better competition. All KPIs point in Williams favor to start somewhere on the first XI at the very least.

The Romanticism here comes from what Josh Williams is. He's a taller, athletic kid who looks like he belongs under center calling go routes on snowy Sunday afternoons off Lake Erie... or batting cleanup for the Tribe on hot summer afternoons... or bombing three's from the two spot in THE Q as the boys push for the playoffs. He is exactly the kind of athlete that the American Midwest creates time and time again for the major sports in this country, it's just that this time one has found soccer.

The future growth of this sport in this area is not in the teenagers filling stands on Saturday nights right now, but it is those same teenagers 20 years from now who are Jack swigging, pot smoking - proud Iron Workers Union - hellraisers filling the stands and taking their kids out to the game.

Williams, to me, represents the kind of player MLS needs more of. He doesn't, nor will he ever have his name in lights across some marquee on some 65k seat stadium. Instead, he'll be the guy that puts in 90' shifts required to guide a team to a championship and then shake the hands of the folks that gave him the opportunity afterwards.

It could be said that he represents an area that just lost power for a week and didn't loot nor riot nor scream for outside help but will take the power company guys out for beers after their 16 hour shift in 100 degree heat.

"He's what makes US Soccer have a chance of being special," is the the the quote I got from a non-soccer, daughter of a lifelong Browns fan and season ticket holder, regarding Josh Williams.

"Browns Season Ticket Holder" has 'special persons' status here at Helltown Beer.

Happy July 4th.

Link to the conversation included in the illustration above.

Illustration above includes: Lou Groza (place kicker and offensive lineman for the Cleveland Browns, born in Martin's Ferry, Ohio), Paul Brown (Cleveland Browns Coach, 1946-1962, born in Massillon, Ohio,, Otto Graham (Cleveland Browns, 1946-1955), Bob Feller (Cleveland Indians Legend) and Joshua Williams (Columbus Crew 2010- , born in Akron, Ohio)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Crew Rd 15, Win Storm (RSL)

Something called a "super derecho" tore across Central Ohio on Friday night leaving over half a million without power on a hot and humid 90 degree night.

Among those without power Friday night:

1. The hotel where Real Salt Lake was staying.
2. Me.

Among those with power Friday night:

1. Kyle Beckerman (didn't travel due to card accumulation)
2. Not me.

By the next day, like most in the Central Ohio area, Crew Stadium was still without power but the local electric company was able to get things up and running and the match was only delayed by 1 hour.

The Crew went on to win this game 2:0.

Columbus seemingly ambushed RSL right from the first whistle. I was sitting low and on the north end so had a good view of the Crew Defensive line of Nemanja Vukovic, Josh Williams, Julius James and Sebastian Miranda and the RSL attack of... which included nobody. Columbus was rarely threatened.

Emilio Renteria seemed to have a speed advantage against the RSL backline (playing too high for a group that got no sleep) and he took it. In the 16' minute Renteria took off on a run down the right side and played a quick low ball across the mouth of goal that found Tony Tchani for a goal. Thirty minutes later Eddie Gaven finished a similar cross in from Josh Williams from a corner by Chris Birchall. It was the 44th minute to be exact. A time when tired teams give up goals.

I moved to a better vantage point so I could see the full pitch but not a whole lot happened offensively. Columbus did stay positive and probably deserved another goal. RSL looked slightly more dangerous but generated nothing near good enough to beat Andy Gruenebaum.

• Josh Williams completely frustrated one of the best players in the league in Fabian Espindola (6 goals, 3 assists on the year). He pushed him, tackled him, talked at him. Eventually Espindola was shown yellow and had to be subbed. Excellent performance by Williams.

• Danny O'Rourke... not many mentions of him for Man of the Match but he put in his best game of the year. Without Beckerman to counter him Danny controlled the middle and snuffed out just about every build up RSL tried to muster. I'm not sure I've seen a more dominate central defending performance this year from any player. CDM is such a key spot for what the Crew does. They need O'Rourke to stay healthy.

• Hard to find any week spots for the Crew after this one. Aaron Shoenfeld was pretty ineffective and tired easily, I suppose. It’s also important to note that he started over a healthy and higher paid Olman Vargas.

When it came time for subs and Milovan Mirosevic came on I took note of a warming up but visibly frustrated Justin Meram and Olman Vargas. Once Kevan George came on it got a little more awkward as Vargas dropped his head and Meram started kicking plastic practice cones while getting encouragement from Eric Gehrig. Meram eventually came on for Renteria but only due to Renteria’s insistence on coming out. After the game Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch noted that Reneria did not stick around for the postgame.

Not trying to turn this club into a soap opera but I manage a group of folks that balloons up past 100 often so I can’t help but notice attitudes in a work place and how employees react to change (Kevan sub being the change in this case).

A storm in the form of Chad Marshall returning to his assigned spot next to Julius James which, in turn, leaves Josh Williams out. A very popular, ticket selling / featured on the inside of the program, Josh Williams. Never underestimate the drawing power of an Ohioan on the team… especially talented one from NE Ohio.

Hopefully my power comes back on so I can tease apart the numbers on the Crew’s upcoming Center Back controversy competition.