Friday, August 31, 2012

August Passing Accuracy, Crew

Below are passing accuracy numbers for the month of August.

The Crew have 3 Wins, 2 Draws, 1 Loss in August.


89.3% : Chad Marshall : 122
81.4% : Carlos Mendes : 97
81.2% : Josh Williams : 250
81.2% : Danny O'Rourke : 85
78.6% : Julius James : 14
78.1% : Milovan Mirosevic : 215
78.1% : Federico Higuain : 137
75.9% : Tony Tchani : 29
75.8% : Eddie Gaven : 207
75.0% : Ethan Finlay : 8
72.6% : Jairo Arrieta : 157
72.1% : Dilly Duka : 111
71.6% : Sebastian Miranda : 232
70.2% : Cole Grossman : 84
68.4% : Chris Birchall : 193
64.9% : Justin Meram : 57
61.4% : Emilio Rentería : 57
48.1% : Matt Lampson : 52
47.3% : Andy Gruenebaum : 148

Again, just one metric and just a passing / distribution / possession stat. Interesting though.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Crew Round 25, The Will in Williams

Eddie Gaven puts away the Philadelphia Union in the 95th minute off some good play from Federico Higuain and Justin Meram... but it all wouldn't have happened were it not for a couple sparks provided by Josh Williams in the middle of an otherwise flat game. Those sparks came in the form of a fearless header for goal in the 31st min off a Higuain free kick and then a Red in the 68th. Those events were much needed in a match that the Union were otherwise trying to kill.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

UPDATED: Points Earned per Start (Crew)

(minimum of 5 games started)

Pts P GM : Name : # of Starts

2.20 : Cole Grossman 5
2.10 : Carlos Mendes 10
1.89 : Dilly Duka 9
1.80 : Danny O´Rourke 10
1.80 : Bernardo Anor 5*
1.75 : Jairo Obando Arrieta 8
1.60 : Emilio Renteria 15
1.58 : Joshua Williams 19
1.57 : Sebastián Miranda 23
1.50 : Andy Gruenebaum 24
1.50 : Eddie Gaven 24
1.50 : Shaun Francis 6**

Performing Below Team Average (1.50)

1.40 : Chris Birchall 10
1.33 : Justin Meram 9
1.31 : Chad Marshall 16
1.30 : Nemanja Vukovic 10
1.25 : Milovan Mirosevic 16
1.17 : Olman Vargas 6
1.14 : Eric Gehrig 7
1.08 : Tony Tchani 12

Not enough starts

3.00 : Federico Higuaín 2
1.50 : Julius James 2
1.33 : Ethan Finlay 3
1.00 : Kevan George 4
1.00 : Aaron Schoenfeld 3


1. TEN to FIFTEEN Starts and Positive Results
This particular metric becomes meaningful / reliable after 10 starts. O'Rourke and Mendes, when in the lineup, will help the team win. Mendes, in particular, has been impressive here. Only 1 loss in 10 starts.

2. FIVE to TEN is a Trend
Cole, Duka and Arrieta are trending the right way. When I see players pass that 5 start mark, I take notice.

3. SIXTEEN+ Starts, Driver's Seat
Any player with this many starts is controlling the overall team's results. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out the rest of the year as there are a couple players way down the list that shouldn't be.

4. While an important metric, points earned per game is just one measurement among many.

* Anor is out for the rest of the year
** Francis was dropped mid-season

Prediction: Crew v. Union

The Crew travel to Philadelphia to take on the Union for another mid-week matchup. Wednesday, August 28th, 2012. 8:00 PM EST.

• Two consecutive wins for the Crew have lightened the playoff weight a bit for the club but they still need around 18 points from remaining 10 games.
• Crew have 2 players in outstanding form, Federico Hiquain and Jairo Arrieta. It will be the first 90 minute Away test for them playing together.
• Philadelphia not mathematically eliminated from playoffs but they are likely out.
• PHI recent Home form very good. Last 6 matches at PPL: 12 goals for and only 4 against. 4 W, 1 D, 1 L
• Last time these two met in Philly was April 4th 2012. It was an early season hack fest (I couldn't even finish the game recap) that PHI ended up winning 1:0... also featured Chad Marshall blessing out the ref right next to a live microphone after the match.

The betting lines are a little mixed for this one with a slight lean PHI. Bet365 has tilt towards PHI 13/10 (fav), 9/4 (draw), 21/10 Crew. None of it looks all that convincing though.

The fan voting over at WinDrawWin is heavy on the Crew. 45% win, with 25% responding Draw. That’s a 70% vote that the Crew should pull at least a point. This is a little unusual.

Columbus is in the middle of a favorable stretch of games against below average teams. Philly, especially at home, is a better side then both Toronto and New England but only just. Even though they surged mid-season, they are also a club trying to find themselves since the ugly divorce with Piotr Nowak earlier this year.

A mid-week matchup is probably the best way to face the Union at home but the Crew are in the middle of a crowded schedule. I have already called this one a draw (I’ve already called the next 5 games) and I’ll stick to that. 1:1 is how I think it will fall tomorrow night.

Some concerns going into this one for the Crew are the switch back to the diamond midfield. I’m fully confident that Danny O’Rourke can play that spot but at what cost? That formation also calls for the right and left backs to turn into wing backs, which is a lot of running for both Josh Williams and Sebastian Miranda.

If the Crew wants to stick with the 4-1-3-2 and Vukovic is ready to go at LB, I think they should move Williams to the middle (to replace the injured Mendes) alongside Marshall. Also, with this formation, I would like to see Eddie Gaven or Higuain in the CAM roll over Mirosevic (too many goals against when he plays that position in this formation). It might be a good idea for the Crew to go to the 4-2-3-1 primary.

Still, no matter how I slice the lineup, it is a very winnable game for Columbus. The schedule gets slightly harder after this one and with the Crew still needing about 5 wins in the remaining 10 - they should definitely go for this one.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Crew Round 24: Parts > Sum of (Win)

Here's the best I can describe about how I feel towards last night's game. A game where the Crew took on the 2nd worst team in the league and seven goals were scored betwixt them.

READY. Click play on this one... Turn it up!

Now click play on this one... turn it all the way down... Timing isn't critical (heh). GO! Click play now! Go full screen while you at it!

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends! They're so glad you could attend, come inside (come inside).

There behind a glass is a real blade of grass, be careful as you pass. Move along, Move along.

Come inside the show's about to start, guaranteed to blow your head apart. Rest assured you'll get your money's worth. The greatest show in Heaven, Hell or Earth. You've got to see the show, it's a dynamo. You've got to see the show, it's rock and roll!

Right before your eyes we pull laughter from the skies and he laughs until he cries then he dies then he dies. Come inside the shows about to start. Guaranteed to blow your head apart.

You gotta see the show, it's a dynamo. You gotta see the show. It's rock and roll.


Soon the Argentine in a glaze of Vaseline will perform on guillotine. What a scene! Next upon the stand, will you please extend a hand to "Warzycha's Ragtime Band" Dixieland, Dixieland.


Roll up! Roll up! Roll up! See the show!

Performing on a stool Crew is a sight to make you drool. 11 virgins and a mule. Keep it cool. Keep it cool. We would like it to be known the exhibits that were shown were exclusively OUR own, All our own. All our own.

Come and see the show! Come and see the show! Come and see the show!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Prediction: Crew v. NE Revs

The New England Revs visit Crew Stadium tonight at 7:30 PM EST / 4:30 PM PST.

• Third game in seven days for the Crew.
• NE has only gotten 5 pts from 12 road games this year
• NE has only 1 win in past 11
• NE hasn't won in last 7 matches
• Crew still healthy and hungry, fighting for playoff spot

Major League Soccer's brain trust is picking the Crew today. Generally, these guys guess right on the result (W,D,or L) a little less then half of the time.

Looks like the betting sites have Columbus taking this one pretty easily. 365Bet has it: 10/11 (fav crew), 12/5 (Draw), 3/1 (Revs).

It's looking like the other betting sites are in agreement, Crew Win with heavy stake on 2:0.

In today's Dispatch Adam Jardy talks more about what the team needs to do as opposed to what he thinks will happen. "This is one the Crew cannot afford to lose," coach Jardy says.

No link will be provided to that paper's website. I am a daily subscriber to the paper yet they are wanting an extra few bucks out of me to view online content. Buy the paper if you get a chance. Skip their online service.

New England has some talent and a few players I really like: Saër Sène, Kelyn Rowe, Chris Tierney, and Benny Feilhaber are all excellent players. Sène is a raw talent but he looks like he is ready to score 2 or 3 each time I watch. He has a G+A per 90 mins of 0.54, very good. So, watch out of him if he is out there.

Easy to say that this could be a trap game for Columbus but the Revs have been so bad it's hard to honestly say they have any chance at playing spoiler. The Revs can be organized though. They aren't giving up a lot... only 9 goals against in last 8 matches. How they have lost 7 of those is beyond me (well, outside of not scoring).

Another game where the Crew will have to remain patient and steadfastly disciplined. It's an easy win if that happens.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Optimist's Guide to Next 6 Crew Games

The Columbus Crew need to get to at least 53 points by the end of the season to have a realistic chance at the playoffs. They have a total of eleven games left but the next six are the most critical. Why?

Five of them are against teams currently earning less points per game then them (further down the "true table"). In other words, even had the Crew not had fancy new signing Federico Higuain, these games would be winnable.

But the Crew do have him. So... Higuain's mission, should he choose to accept it, is to help this club get to 46 points by the Chicago Fire match on September 29th.

To do so the Crew are going to have to go 4 Wins, 1 Draw, 1 Loss over the next 6. Easy right?

Saturday, August 25, 2012, 7:30 ET
Columbus v New England • Columbus Crew Stadium
Player Speech: Crush their hope, Must Win.
Likely Result: Win. 3 Pts
Total Points = 36
Wednesday, August 29, 2012 8:00 ET
Philadelphia Union v Columbus • PPL Park
Player Speech: Weaker Opponent, Must Win.
Likely Result: Draw
Total Points = 37
Saturday, September 01, 2012 7:30 ET
Columbus v Montreal Impact • Columbus Crew Stadium
Player Speech: Massive Match, Must Win.
Likely Result: Tight Win
Total Points = 40
Wednesday, September 05, 2012 8:00 ET
New England v Columbus • Gillette Stadium
Player Speech: Weaker Opponent, Must Win.
Likely Result: Solid Win
Total Points = 43
Saturday, September 15, 2012 7:00 ET
New York Red Bulls v Columbus • Red Bull Arena
Player Speech: Draw on Road
Likely Result: Loss
Total Points = 43
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 7:30 ET
Columbus v Chivas USA • Columbus Crew Stadium
Player Speech: Take 'em down!
Likely Result: Win
Total Points = 46

Not so bad, really. If they can do this then they can focus on getting 7 points out of the remaining five tougher games against better better competition (CHI, KC, DC among them).

Crew Round 23, Crew Win (TFC)

Columbus comfortably holds off Toronto for all 90 minutes and comes away with the 2:1 win.

Columbus looked the hungrier of the two sides at the start and just 4 minutes in was able to get defensive deflection which enabled an Eddie Gaven shot to angle past a frozen TFC GK Freddie Hall.

Interestingly, the goal didn't change the mentality of either side. Crew kept up the sharp pressure and finding plenty of gaps in the midfield and Toronto looked game to absorb and build possession.

The script didn't change much from the 1st half and the Crew were rewarded at the 58th minute off some hustle play from Eddie Gaven, Jairo Arrieta and Frederico Higuain. The goal was the first for Higuain in a Crew uniform.

From there the Crew dropped back and essentially abandoned possession. It wouldn't be unfair to call the game flat after the second goal. Out of that and around the 70th minute TFC's Luis Silva took advantage of a sleeping pair of Crew defenders off a free kick to score one back.

From there Crew Coach Warzycha brought in a trio of defensive subs to wrap the game up.

• First off, I gotta say, very cool to see both Cole Grossman and Danny O'Rourke come on at the same time. I've got a big ol' grin on my face because I just wrote about those two playing together the other day.

• Federico Higuain is off to a great start in his first 135 121 minutes. He and Arrieta look like they will be absolute pests to opposing back lines.

• With Higuain, Eddie Gaven has looked like the player we all know he is. Over the past few years the quality has always been there but it looked like it took extreme effort... but now with a couple players up top who can cover a lot of ground with him... man o man, watch out.

• I thought Emilio Renteria looked pretty good running up and down the right side as, basically, a wing man.

• I wasn't impressed with Milovan Mirosevic and Chris Birchall wasn't blowing anyone's hair back. A win is a win.

• Toronto played much of the match like they weren't in the mood, organized but definitely a not tonight honey kinda evening. No pancakes for them, I guess.

• Would have liked the Crew to bury this poor TFC side. Columbus did exactly what they needed to this game, though. 3 points at home and get the PR regulars to beat that free drum for the new expensive signing.

• Looking forward to this weekends match against another below average side in the NE Revs.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Predictions, Crew v. TFC

The Crew host Toronto FC tonight, 7:30 PM in Columbus and 12:30 AM Stoke.

• Columbus is in must win mode to have a chance at the playoffs. Home games are critical.
• Toronto’s playoff hopes are all but mathematically over. if it is about anything for them in a league game, it is the Trillium Cup. Beyond that, their focus will be on doing well in the CONCACAF Champions League.
• Both teams have a lot of games in the next week coming up.
• Toronto has one today (away), Saturday (away again) then a big one against Santos Laguna at home (CCL match).

PREDICTIONS (abbreviated)
Soothsayer Aaron Katzeman over at Massive Report got last game dead on at 2:2. This week the wise one picks Crew to win 2:0. “Columbus' new attack-minded play,” will lead them to victory, sayeth the Katzeman.

Bet365 is all in with the Crew this time… 4/6 (fav), 5/2 (Draw), 9/2 (TFC)

"Today, I predict a win." Jenn Eyer over at The Official Blog of the Hudson Street Hooligans is up with the Crew as well… 2:0.

Toronto's 2012 year has been uneven but they have played tough as of late. While they haven't won in their last five league games and have allowed a goal in each of the last five matches -- they have managed to only allowed more than one goal in 2 of them.

The Crew will be treating this like a must win and TFC will be a club with nothing to lose. When you have those two forces working against each other it’ll be the team with the most discipline that wins.

Will the Crew be able to maintain that discipline? I think so. Wishful thinking perhaps, but I think this one may be tight for most of the match with a raucous final 20.

Something is... just in the air… a Meram Goal? What is that smell… Williams finding the back of the net?


[UPDATE: CREW 2:1 TFC FINAL... Consensus wins.]

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Look at O'Rourke and Grossman

The Columbus Crew are getting busy. A bunch of games in a short period of time means we get to see who is made of what and lots of different lineups.

Here is a quick look at why I think Danny O'Rourke and Cole Grossman should get a shot at starting a game together soon. I'm going to call it:


1. O'Rourke and Grossman have started together only once. Against Seattle (away) and it was one of, if not THE, biggest wins in the past two seasons.

2. O'Rourke and Grossman have both earned 10 points in their last Five games started. Below is how they stack up against the other Defensive Midfielders on the team, as far as points in last 5 starts

Pts in last 5 games
10 : Cole Grossman
10 : Danny O'Rourke
8 : Chris Birchall
4 : Tony Tchani
3 : Milovan Mirosevic

4 : Kevan George**(only 4 starts)

3. Team Goals For while starting in their last Five games. Keep in mind that there aren't any out of control goal scoring points on this years Crew team. You might think this is where Milovan would thrive... but not the case (whether due to injury, form or otherwise).

Goals For in last 5 games
8 : Cole Grossman
7 : Danny O'Rourke
6 : Chris Birchall
4 : Tony Tchani
3 : Milovan Mirosevic

4 : Kevan George**(only 4 starts)

4. Danny and Cole are best in Goals Against, as well. This is the area of supreme strength for Columbus, so all do well here.

Goals Against in last 5 games
2 : Danny O'Rourke
3 : Cole Grossman
5 : Chris Birchall
5 : Milovan Mirosevic
6 : Tony Tchani

5 : Kevan George**(only 4 starts)

5. One important thing to note here, and it benefits everyone: Ever since Robert Warzycha changed the lineup and include two Defensive Mids, injuries have gotten less frequent.

The Crew have had to change their primary lineup from a 4-1-3-2 (diamond midfield) to a 4-2-3-1 because they are without productivity out of any target men this year. Aaron Schoenfeld and Olman Vargas haven't quite adapted (through no real fault of their own) and Tommy Heinemann is injured (through no fault of his own, either).

This change in formation has reduced the amount of running a Central Defensive Midfielder had to do in Warzycha's system. Frankly, it was too much running with near impossible responsibilities. In the old lineup the CDM position was a front row ticket to the infirmary. Think: Rich Balchan, Danny O'Rourke, the late Kirk Urso and Milovan Mirosevic.

It's a good formation and should work well enough in this league. It even seams as if the diamond midfield formation has moved to third choice as well. I've seen the team run varient on a 4-3-3 (4-2-1-3) in reserve games and late in a couple Senior level games. It looked positive from what I saw and Ben Speas seemed to do well playing behind a top line of Schoenfeld, Vargas and Renteria. It may be something the Crew pull out if they get desparate during the playoff push.

Anyhow. Give O'Rourke and Grossman another run out together. I'd bet a shinny silver dollar on a 2-0 victory against Toronto.


• As a club, they haven't scored more than two goals in any games and only allowed more than 2 once. So, no outliers in last 5 games for each player.

• A crowded schedule should be healthy for the club. They have been last in games played because of the wacky MLS schedule this year. For the rest of the world two games a week is part of the modern game but in Major League Soccer it is a bit of anomaly for most clubs. Games every 2 or three days will be just what the doctor ordered.

• Not entirely fair to pull Mirosevic into this Defensive Mid group as he has spent a lot of time more as a Central Mid (neither up or back). However, I do feel that his tendency to drift back was a driver for Warzycha's formation change.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Crew Round 22, Walking. Drawing. (HOU)

Crew leave an incredibly important two points in Houston after allowing the Dynamo to equalize late.

Both teams came out playing pretty good soccer and were able to control significant chunks of time. As a result of the good soccer, Houston's Oscar Boniek García was able to catch both Crew CDMs jogging and easily moved across the top of the 18 yard box. Boniek found Brad Davis wide open who promptly got the ball on the golden left cleat of his and slammed it home in the 19th minute.

The lead for Houston didn't last long, though. Cole Grossman whipped in a wicked one time / first time goal. Dilly Duka found open space down the wing and placed the ball perfectly to Cole for the assist.

It was a solid first half for both sides.

Robert Warzycha decided that it was time for the new team signing to stretch his legs and... stretch he did. Fredrico Higuain was very active in the early goings of the second half and assisted on a Eddie Gaven goal in the 58th minute. Interestingly, with a half hour left to play and up 2:1, Hiquain stayed in a forward position. It could be that Columbus is pressing for that all elusive first 3 goal game of the year.

Regardless, Columbus should have been able to hold off Houston without Arrieta or Higuain tracking back - and for the most part they did, save for a sloppy clearance by Chad Marshall which was followed by a disgraceful lack of effort to get back on the ball.

Houston equalized on a 82' Adam Moffat 18 yd blast that Andy Gruenebaum wasn't able to get his hands behind.


Chad Marshall walked his way back to a playable ball after his whiffed clearance. Lack of effort should never be tolerated. The fact of the matter is this; The Crew haven't been in a playoff spot on the table since the beginning of July. Marshall is Captain of this team. Their battlefield general and a very good player. He is to be held to a higher standard. Warzycha should run him up the flag pole for what happened yesterday.

The Crew played this game about as well as any this year. What could have been stories about Houston's first loss at home, Cole's Redemption for Important Win, or Higuain Impressive in Crew Come from Behind Win was turned into two points missed.

I'm sticking with ~54 pts as what is needed in order to safely gain a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs this year (see last post). This means the Crew need 24 points in their next 12 games which equates to a 2.00 points per game average.

Columbus hasn't had a 2.00 points per game average over a 12 game span since the end of 2009.

It's not impossible, though. It can be done...

This means 8 wins, in next 12.


7 wins, 3 draws, 2 loss.


6 wins, 6 draws, 0 loss


MLS goes clown show and starts whipping out Red Cards (Six over this past weekend) and dishing out ill timed suspensions (Vancouver's Robson) AND just plain old extended extra time to allow team a way back into playoffs... in order to manufacture closer playoff and Supporters' Shield races.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Prediction: HOU v. Crew (+Playoff Needs)

The Columbus Crew are in Houston tonight to take on the Dynamo. Game starts 9:00 PM EST, 8:00 PM IN TEXAS.


• No doubt that the Crew will cram new high profile signing, Fredrico Higuain, in to the starting 11 tonight.
• The player he will likely replace will be recent starter Cole Grossman. Cole has yet to lose a game as a starter. Three Wins / One Draw, with results against top tier teams (SEA, DC, KC and LA).
• HOU is unbeaten at home this year.
• HOU has only allowed 1 goal in last 5 game at home
• HOU has only allowed more than 1 goal in 1 game at home this year (back on June 21)


The team over at have Houston across the board, save for one picking a draw.

365Bet is leaning heavily Houston.

WinDrawWin, the sport betting aggregate site, confidently tells us that Houston will win. Large stake on 2:0 HOU. 68% vote for Dynamo with as well.

WV Hooligan says that "...Houston isn’t what [the Crew] needs at this point." He has it 2:0 Houston as well.

Adam Jardy, reporting on the Crew for the Columbus Dispatch, thinks it "will take and offensive eruption for the Crew to become the first opponent to win at Houston."


Columbus can do something special tonight. The forecast says there may be some rain moving through, hopefully it cools off. Outside of the fact that the Dynamo are all jazzed up about the new stadium, the heat always saps opponents strength.

It's really hard to get past the fact that the home side has not lost on home turf in 2012.

The way things look right now Columbus will have to WIN as many as 7 and possibly 9 of their last 13 to get into the playoffs (much higher than the 6 Robert Warzycha said a few weeks ago). That would leave them with 53-56 points. Last year that would be good enough for third in the league, but not this year. Why?

Draws are way, way (WAY) down to 20%, last year it was 35%... Draws have gone from 1 in 3 to 1 in 5? Which makes you ask... what on God's Green Earth!?

If you look at last year's table you see that a total of 47 pts or so got you into the playoffs (which is what Crew had). This year, with the lack of ties and an added club it might actually take around 55.

What this means is that the Crew can't afford to lose or draw more that 5 or 6 of there remaining 13 games.

The club needs wins. In order to get wins you need goals. Is Hiquain going to provide them? Possibly through assists first and goals 2nd. Say he does that at a rate of an assist or a goal per game (Wondo or Henry levels) through the rest of the year. Say this is on top of current Crew productivity of 1.00 Goals Per Game. Even in this Higuain has Greatest Start a DP has Ever Had fantasy land... it only takes the Crew up to 1.38 Goals per game (47 on the year) which will only be good enough for 9th in the league.

It's looking like a tall task for the Crew to work their way into the playoffs this year. It's going to take the extraordinary from them and another Eastern Conf team collapsing. Game's in hand works against you when you need another club to collapse because it leaves them less games and time for them to get to the collapsin'.

It has to start for the Crew tonight. They have to give Houston their first loss at home. This is the message Robert Warzycha should be conveying to the club. The team needs 3 points.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Improvement Needed

There are a handful of Columbus Crew players that are racking up substandard club numbers. The list includes big names like Milovan Mirosevic, Chad Marshall, and Tony Tchani. All are under performing when it comes to team results.

1.38 : TEAM
1.08 : Tony Tchani
1.08 : Chad Marshall
1.00 : Milovan Mirosevic

Tchani, Marshall and Mirosevic have all started in greater than 50% of the matches this year. Mirosevic, in particular, is only earning 3 points in 21% of his games (3 wins in 14 games started). Team average is 38%.

Mirosevic hasn't started a winning game since May 12th. 3 Draw, 2 Loss since then. The club has had 4 wins in that time.

-0.05 : TEAM
-0.25 : Tchani
-0.36 : Mirosevic
-0.46 : Marshall

Out of the three of them, Tony Tchani has shown some individual attacking ability and Chad Marshall has exhibited signs of returning to his impressive defensive form. However, Mirosevic hasn't shown much of anything.

The last metric I'll take a look at is how often players "get a result". Which is to say Win or Draw. Again, these three same players show up at the bottom.

62% : TEAM
58% : Tchani
57% : Mirosevic
46% : Marshall

The Win or Draw % is possibly the most damning on a Robert Warzycha coached club as he will often pull back early to earn at least a point.

While not exciting or flashy, players like Carlos Mendes, Dilly Duka, Danny O'Rourke, Bernardo Anor and Cole Grossman have done enough to get this club in the playoffs. All of them are averaging over 1.80 points per game (which is good enough for 2nd in MLS).

Combined Mendes, Duka, O'Rourke and Anor have a ridiculous 18W, 7D, 7L record. Tchani, Marshall and Mirosevic? 10W, 11D, 16L.

To me, the Federico Higuaín signing push is more of attempt to make individuals (that have $100k+ salaries) better and not the overall club. Federico will no doubt be a solid player in this league, but he will merely just pull under performing Crew players up to average levels. Thus, leaving the team average.

While Tony Tchani has been moved out of the starting rotation in recent weeks, Chad Marshall serves as the team Captain and Mirosevic serves as a sort of Vice Captain (sometimes Captain when Marshall is out). It does not bode well for the club for these two to be at the bottom of these metrics. Improvement is needed immediately if this team is to move into the playoffs.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Crew Round 21, Draw Strength

Columbus took to the pitch with heavy hearts in their first game back after teammate Kirk Urso's passing.

The match ended 1:1.

Photo credit not available but the image can be found on the Crew's FB photos page.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Predictions: Crew v. LA

The Galaxy are in town tonight. Game starts at 7:30 PM Columbus, OH and 6:30 PM in Lombard, ILL.

• Emotional game for folks here in Columbus. This game will be on the NBC Sports Network, which means folks across the nation may be watching. For anyone that may attend; Please be responsible and respectful and look out for one another. Keep that in mind, even when you see that guy in the Beckham Real Madrid shirt.

PREDICTIONS thinks there will be a 3 point result with a slight lean towards the Crew. It also appears that there will be goals in this one. If it's not a 1:0 game this will have 3 goals in it.

The bet aggregate site WinDrawWin sees it the same way. Home team getting the edge followed by Away team win. Tie least likely.

Aaron Katzeman is going with Crew 2:1 over at Massive Report. The fans seem to be optimistic over there as well.

Adam Jardy at the Columbus Dispatch also views this one as a game where someone will be grabbing 3 points. On one hand Jardy thinks; "...the Crew could rise to the occasion and dispatch the defending champions in a night to be remembered." On the other, "the stage could be too much to handle."

Both hands are being rather Shakespearean, though.


Columbus tends to open up at home more than on the road scoring 1.33 per match (good) but allowing 1.22 against (overall the team scores 1.00 and allows 1.05). Contrastingly, LA is fairly even home or away. Lots of goals. 1.71 For and 1.64 Against when away from Home Depot Center.

This is such an emotionally charged game. Columbus will be playing with heavy hearts and LA is making a hard push towards the playoffs. LA are on the proverbial "bubble" but I'm sure their thoughts will be with the Crew as well.

I'm not sure I've ever experienced anything quite like this. I grew up in Northern VA so I'm a Redskins guy and Sean Taylor does come to my mind (2007). I remember how the team won all their games after he passed away, but it came at some cost. It was just such an emotional few months. They charged into the playoffs but I recall the Seattle game were you could tell the players and coaching staff and fans just reached a point where the well was dry. A lot of the staff didn't return for the next year and some of the players went to other teams. Joe Gibbs retired (for the 2nd time) and cited the emotional drain of the '07 season as one of the reasons.

It's a difficult thing to write about, all this. I'm closer to the Crew then the 'Skins these days. There is no right or wrong way to handle things but I hope that the guys are able to go out there and do well and not get too high or too low.

Take it as it comes.

Play like Lions.

Go Crew.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Crew Crowds, Best Since '07

The Crew sales folks have been hittin' it hard this year and getting butts in seats. Their focused initiatives like extra emails, community involvement, social media initiatives, traditional advertising and plain old phone calls are paying off, but are those the main drivers to this years increased sales?

Nope, but I'll get to that in one sec. For now, let's take a look at what Crew attendance looks like by year according to Major League Soccer Fact and Record Book for perspective.

Year: Avg Attendance : Winning %

1996 : 18,950 : 34 %
1999 : 17,696 : 41
2001 : 17,511 : 50
2002 : 17,429 : 39
2004 : 16,872 : 40
2003 : 16,250 : 33
2000 : 15,451 : 34
2007 : 15,230 : 30
1997 : 15,043 : 38

2012 : 14,858 : 40

2008 : 14,662 : 57
2010 : 14,642 : 47
2009 : 14,175 : 43
2006 : 13,294 : 25
2005 : 12,916 : 34
1998 : 12,274 : 47
2011 : 12,185 : 38

Big jump over last year (2011 was the worst attended year in Crew history). Impressive increase? What gives? Well, lots of help from Don Garber, MLS Commish. A couple visits and a World Cup qualifier date announced. The Crew also made a baseball promotions hire in Clark Beacom halfway through last year. Just to name a few things.

But could it be more than that? What's the biggest driver to selling tickets? Winning? They say winning solves everything, right?

Well, winning helps but look at the list above, now back down here... lots of pretty bad teams above some really good ones. But, in fact (on average) less folks come out to winning years. 38% (low) winning percentage for years with ticket sales better then 2012, 42% for those less (even without 2008's 57%).

There are a lot of metrics one could pull for this sort of thing. I know that MLB and NFL have folks dedicated to figuring out and forecasting ticket sales in just about every major US city. Hell, they probably know your middle name and what your vice is. MLS though? Not so much. Maybe I could tie the success of Buckeye football teams to Crew attendance. How about unemployment rates? Weather?

It could be anything really, but what it comes down to is how likable the club is. Look at the Brian McBride years. Only one falls out (1998). This year's club has a group of players that are likable. And a bunch of them from the region.

Having popular players may not always satisfy the dedicated fan, supporter, reporter or blogger but it will put butts in seats (or on benches, as it were).

The picture above is from a Columbus Monthly piece by Taylor Swope. Photo credit goes to Tessa Berg. Excellent stuff.

Please note where current Crew coach, Robert Warzycha's teams sit. Eric Wynalda just moved to Atlanta to further his career in coaching (over broadcasting). He wants in. I say, let him in.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Goals + Assists per 90, Columbus Crew

A good attacking rate in any league or at any level is a player getting a goal or an assist in a third of the games they play in. The more minutes they player logs, the more meaningful the number.

Below is Crew player G+A per 90 minutes played efficiency with the number of 90 minute games each player has participated in on the right.

League matches only. See bottom of post for notes.

G+A per 90 : Name : GMs Played

0.82 : Jairo Arrieta : 3.7
0.53 : Shaun Francis : 5.6
0.41 : Chris Birchall : 7.3
0.41 : Justin Meram : 7.3
0.30 : Aaron Schoenfeld : 3.3
0.30 : Emilio Rentería : 13.5
0.30 : Nemanja Vukovic : 10.1
0.25 : Eddie Gaven : 19.6
0.25 : Tony Tchani : 11.8
0.19 : Dilly Duka : 5.3
0.18 : Bernardo Anor : 5.5
0.14 : Olman Vargas : 7.3
0.13 : Josh Williams : 15.2
0.13 : Eric Gehrig : 7.9
0.08 : Chad Marshall : 11.8
0.08 : Milovan Mirosevic : 12.5
0.05 : Sebastian Miranda : 18.5
0.00 : Andy Gruenebaum : 20.0
0.00 : Danny O'Rourke : 8.5
0.00 : Carlos Mendes : 5.1
0.00 : Kevan George : 4.7
0.00 : Ethan Finlay : 4.6
0.00 : Cole Grossman : 3.6
0.00 : Julius James : 2.2
0.00 : Tommy Heinemann : 0.1


• A good goal and assist rate for an individual with less then 5 games is a player trending in the right direction. It should only be seen as a trend, however.

• The best attacking players in the league play in over 70% of total minutes and have G+A per 90 rate of +0.40. Only 22 players in the league have achieved this and that list is impressive.

G+A per 90 : Name : GMs Played

0.91 : Chris Wondolowski : 21.90
0.85 : David Beckham : 17.59
0.78 : Robbie Keane : 17.99
0.75 : Dwayne De Rosario : 20.13
0.74 : Eddie Johnson : 16.24
0.73 : Landon Donovan : 19.27
0.67 : Will Bruin : 19.53
0.66 : Brad Davis : 19.79
0.60 : Fredy Montero : 18.46
0.57 : Graham Zusi : 21.04
0.57 : Kenny Cooper : 21.20
0.56 : Alvaro Saborio : 21.24
0.55 : Saer Sene : 18.04
0.55 : Marco Pappa : 16.27
0.53 : Fabian Espindola : 18.83
0.51 : Felipe Martins : 23.47
0.50 : Kei Kamara : 21.94
0.41 : Martin Rivero : 19.40
0.41 : Ryan Johnson : 22.00
0.41 : Kris Boyd : 19.56
0.40 : Brian Mullan : 19.80
0.40 : Joel Lindpere : 20.08

Eddie Gaven ranks 36th in this category.

• Columbus is tied for last in number of players that have played in over 70% of minutes possible by club. Gruenebaum, Gaven, Miranda, Williams.

Josh Williams and his 2 assists in 15.2 games puts him 16th among defenders. He only needs a goal or assist in the next few games to put him at elite defender levels. Interesting note... fellow Ohioan, Marc Burch is right there with him. 3 assists in 16.9 games, good enough for 12th among defenders in this efficiency (0.18).


Score=((Goals-PK+Assists)/(Minutes Played / Standard Game Length))

Example: Eddie Gaven
0.25 = ((4-0+1)/(1765/90)
4 goals, 0 PKs, 1 Assist in 19.6 games

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Points Per Start, Columbus Crew

2012 Season to Date. The Columbus Crew have played 20 League games.

(3 Pts for a win, 1 for a Draw, 0 for loss)


3.00 : Cole Grossman 3
2.17 : Carlos Mendes 6
2.00 : Dilly Duka 6
1.80 : Bernardo Anor 5
1.67 : Danny O´Rourke 9
1.50 : Julius James 2
1.50 : Emilio Renteria 14
1.50 : Jairo Obando Arrieta 4
1.50 : Shaun Francis 6
1.47 : Sebastián Miranda 19
1.47 : Joshua Williams 15

1.40 : Andy Gruenebaum 20
1.40 : Eddie Gaven 20

1.38 : Justin Meram 8
1.33 : Ethan Finlay 3
1.30 : Nemanja Vukovic 10
1.29 : Chris Birchall 7
1.17 : Olman Vargas 6
1.14 : Eric Gehrig 7
1.08 : Tony Tchani 12
1.08 : Chad Marshall 12
1.00 : Aaron Schoenfeld 3
1.00 : Kevan George 4
1.00 : Milovan Mirosevic 13

Right now the club in the last playoff spot (CHI) is averaging 1.59 pts p/GM. Columbus needs 3 wins and 0 losses from where they are (a record of 11 W, 4D, 8L) to get +1.60.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

MLS Team of the Week(s)

Here are the players who have made the Team of the Week the most in 2012 so far.
5 : Chris Wondolowski
4 : Brad Davis
4 : Lee Nguyen
4 : Kyle Beckerman
4 : Álvaro Saborío
4 : Kei Kamara

The official Major League Soccer website has a weekly post on the best performing players the previous week and compile a starting 11 from it. I thought it would be interesting to pull all those teams and see what I could find. Above are the only players that have made the team more than 3 times. has listed 19 Team of the Weeks (TotW) this year to date. It started week 2 and was posted each week till the summer break. From there, weeks 13-15 were combined (not all games stopped, but most did?) and we are back to weekly since then. Ergo, 19 TotWs.

So... 19 TotWs (plus a manager) = 228 possible selection spots. 145 different players fill that up.

Here are the Managers that have made the list more than once.
2 : Robert Warzycha (CLB)
2 : John Hackworth (PHI)
2 : Frank Yallop (SJE)
2 : Paul Mariner (TFC)

Honorable Mentions: It's pretty reasonable to have a starting 11 + 7 or so guys to round out your weekly best but MLS adds 15-20 players each week under the Honorable Mentions category. So on any given week you'll see ~20 players listed under the TotW feature. That's about 10% of all players getting minutes week to week.

Here are the guys who have been honorably mentioned the most but as of yet made the starting TotW 11.
5 : Sebastian Grazzini (CHI)
4 : Chad Marshall (CLB)
4 : Josh Williams (CLB)
4 : Zac MacMath (PHI)

Seems excessive but what it does is give us another tool of which to measure player performance. Remember, never use just one to gauge a players value.

Here is the count of unique names that have made the TotW starting 11 by team.
11 : San Jose Earthquakes
9 : New England Revolution
8 : Vancouver Whitecaps
8 : Houston Dynamo
8 : New York Red Bulls
7 : Chivas USA
7 : FC Dallas
7 : Seattle Sounders
7 : D.C. United
7 : Montreal Impact
6 : Philadelphia Union
6 : Toronto FC
6 : Sporting Kansas City
6 : LA Galaxy
5 : Colorado Rapids
5 : Chicago Fire
4 : Portland Timbers
4 : Columbus Crew

Yikes, lots of love for the Revs and 'Caps and hateful toward Crew, Fire and KC. It's not enough to throw out the TotW as a measurement device... yet.

Here are those Crew players that have made the TotW starting 11.
3 : Andy Gruenebaum
2 : Eddie Gaven
1 : Emilio Rentería
1 : Jairo Arrieta

Here are the players picked for TotW starting 11 + Honorable Mention on the Crew.
7 : Andy Gruenebaum
4 : Chad Marshall
4 : Josh Williams
3 : Eddie Gaven
2 : Justin Meram
2 : Shaun Francis
2 : Emilio Rentería
2 : Jairo Arrieta
1 : Aaron Schoenfeld
1 : Chris Birchall
1 : Danny O'Rourke
1 : Sebastian Miranda
1 : Tony Tchani

Columbus is good for 2nd in the league in Honorable Mentions! SJE 1st with 34, CLB has 24.

I don't have any major conclusions here other than it's interesting to see what the league thinks of it's own players. In a way it's like a self evaluation, or a "on-the-spot reward" type program. The league owns these guys after all.

How about I end this with combined starting 11 and Honorable mentions for the players league wide:

9 : Landon Donovan
7 : Chris Wondolowski
7 : Brad Davis
7 : Andy Gruenebaum
7 : Marvin Chávez
6 : Kyle Beckerman
6 : Chris Pontius
6 : Eddie Johnson
6 : Dan Kennedy
6 : Robbie Keane
6 : Felipe Martins
6 : Alan Gordon

That's some pretty good company Mr. Gruenebaum.

Hope you enjoyed the post and thanks for reading. is a little messy with this feature. Names are misspelled or shortened or have a tilde sometimes or not, etc. To my knowledge, MLS does not sum all this up so I put this together and took it as far as I care to (spreadsheet fatigue). Questions? you can email me at ... you can find my full spreadsheet file HERE and generate your own conclusions.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Both Thought and Prayer

The Closing Prayer to John Henry Newman's 20th Sermon Wisdom and Innocence.

"May He support us all the day long, till the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in His mercy may He give us safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last."

The full sermon. Link

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Predictions: Crew v. DC

The hallowed grounds of my youth host DC United and the Columbus Crew tonight at 7:30 PM (8:30 PM in Buenos Aries, Argentina and 12:30 AM in Northamptonshire, England).

• DC had a week off from MLS action but did host PSG (friendly). The club has hit a bit of a bad spell of late.
• Alternatively, Crew have won 2 league matches in a row (including a 1:0 win over DC).
• Crew have also won a Reserve game and a friendly against Stoke. Team spirits are soaring.
• Columbus still haven't scored 3 goals in a league game.
• They also have only allowed more than 2 goals once this year.
• Two weeks ago, when these two met in Columbus, DC was coming off a crowded schedule


Good Morning, let's get started with the MLS staff. Jason Saghini, Director of Video is the only one picking Columbus. Four of them are leaning DCU and one other calling for a Draw.

Over on the betting sites we see DC getting a better than normal home advantage. Bet365 has DC 10/11 (fav) odds with a likely scoreline of 1:0 (2:0 or 1:1 after that).

That WV Hooligan, Drew Epperley, has DC winning 1:0 as well. "Tempo will be huge in this game as well, something I think D.C. will bring from the start," says he.

Locally, we've got Mr. Katzeman thinking "United are too good at home and the Crew are too inconsistent," 1:0 to DC.

Ms. Eyer over at Pitch Fest, The Official blog of the Hudson Street Hooligans feels the Crew can get a point out of this one. 2:2 Draw.

Mr. Dispatch Crew himself (Adam Jardy) shares Eyer's positive vibe and even steps it up a notch. In his preview this morning in the paper he thinks Jairo Arrieta's recent production could inspire the club on and give them "a chance at coming home with its longest winning streak of the season."

First off... I think that 58 year old Mr. James Haslam III, new majority owner of the Cleveland Browns, looks like is able play starting QB if Brandon Weeden doesn't work out. He'd also make for a beast CDM for the Crew. The picture above has it all, man (Joshua Gunther up at the Plain Dealer took it). The star quarterback hustling past approvingly... the owners attractive wife looking pleased as punch and the owner who looks like General MacArthur did walking up Red Beach, Palo, Leyte and eats nails for breakfast - front and center. I'm ready to run through walls now, damn you NFL.

2nd off... The Crew are in the middle of good times and playing DC this time of the year is preferred over playing in a late season must win match like last year.

Columbus has won four matches, in all competitions, in a row but each was against weakened clubs.

1. Beat a tired DC team
2. Won Reserve match in Obetz the next day
3. Two goals during backups half of Stoke match
4. Beat a KC team missing 3 key starters

A win is a win and no team is ever fully healthy (especially Columbus) but DC will be as close as you can get to 100% and will absolutely be putting the Crew on their back heels.

Also, this... DC hasn't scored less than 3 goals at RFK since the middle of April. Here is what their home goals look like since then: 4, 3, 2, 3, 3, 3.

Columbus has yet to score over 2 this year so the club's fullbacks and defensive mids better be ready to eat lightning and crap thunder tonight. A Mirosevic return tonight might not be a good idea. If ever there was a night to see Danny O'Rourke back, this would be it.

The Crew are owned by a "sports group" so they can't get a pic like the one above. It's usually just dudes with suits. Unless you want to imagine Mark McCullers in there. Great things come from great leaders, folks.

Great Leaders, Great things.

[UPDATE] Final, Crew 0:1 DC. David Burgin has a good recap here.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Ready to Go, MLS Value

Here are some Major League Soccer players that are young, underpaid and very, very good. I'll call it the "Future Star / Currently a Value Team". Admittedly, that's a bad name for a team but hopefully it's descriptive enough to explain this list I'm about to provide.

Put these guys together on one team and you not only have about the best MLS team, you also have the cheapest.

Age : Name : Team : Position : Current Salary ($)

22 : Connor Lade : (NY) : Defender : 34k
26 : Chris Tierney : (NE) : Defender : 75k
25 : Seth Sinovic : (KC) : Defender : 67k
24 : Josh Williams : (CREW) : Defender : 44k

25 : Graham Zusi : (KC : Midfielder : 140k
24 : Alex Caskey : (SEA) : Midfielder : 34k
22 : Martin Rivero : (COL) : Midfielder : 50k
22 : Rafael Baca : (SJ) : Midfielder : 44k

22 : Will Bruin : (HOU) : Forward : 135k
27 : Ryan Johnson : (TOR) : Forward : 140k
25 : Saer Sene : (NE) : Forward : 150k

How these guys made the list

1. Outperforming their MLS Salary
2. Young, low mileage
3. Haven't bounced from club to club
4. High Helltown Player Rating
5. No 'keeper. 50% of MLS have a decent one

I'm on a Major League Soccer value/bargin kick because the players in it are often incorrectly identified in their formative years. Also, the timing is good because the "international transfer window" is about to go into Hulk Smash mode. Lots of gems floating around in this league. I tried to find players that are still developing through MLS and not paid a whole lot.

Most of these guys are one college, one team players (Saer Sene and Ryan Johnson being exceptions).

Again, these are guys who are relatively untouched yet performing well in Major League Soccer. Part of me hopes that England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain look this way for physically developed talent. The other part hopes that MLS starts to let this talent go and re-invests the money they bring in to help raise / change the existing club salary restrictions.

For the Crew folks: Josh Williams easily tops performance metrics for the club but he also finds his way atop my league lists. He's having an exceptional first "real" season. His core competencies and physical ability appear to be top level as well. Cream rises to the top and Williams is moving up there.

Lastly... I try and maintain a place where you can find all MLS player stats, all together. You can find that here: Link.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

To Take the Black

it's late... and this is just but a blog. it's like Game of Thrones and Skyrim all in one. LISTEN

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Top MLS Bargins (Teams, Players)

In a perfect world, professional athletes would be paid based on performance above all else.

Using my player ratings I can estimate individual player values in relationship to the rest of the league and their corresponding salaries.

The way I do that is to take the aggregate of every player's score and assign a monetary value to each point -- then add all those player values and group by team. From there you get a club value as compared to (above or below) existing salaries (more details below list, promise):

THE BEST (in $$)
+950k : San Jose
+750k : Sporting KC
+650k : Houston
+450k : Columbus
+450k : Real Salt Lake
+450k : Seattle

+200k : D.C.
+100k : New England
+100k : Chicago
+100k : Chivas USA
-100k : New York
-300k : Colorado

-350k : Philadelphia
-400k : FC Dallas
-500k : Los Angeles
-500k : Vancouver

-731k : Montreal
-751k : Toronto FC
-769k : Portland

482 players have seen minutes in MLS this year. I've awarded 17,448 pts (on a 0-100 pt scale) when added up from all of them. Total salaries of those 482 players: $ 61,431,169. I've capped salaries at $350k as that is the max MLS counts against cap.*

Total Salaries / total pts = per point value

61,431,169 / 17,488 = $ 3,520.75

Example: I have New York's Teemu Tainio as a "12". He's played 180 minutes on an above average team, no goals or assists but fired off 3 shots and has fouled as much as he has been foul-ed.

12 x 3,520.75 = 40,531.6 (Helltown player value)

Teemu Tainio is being paid A $205,000 guaranteed salary. Which means, by this scale, his overpaid by $164,468.40.

Now imagine that formula aggregated per team and you have my above list (in Dollars).

It's rounded because of some player transactions that I'm not going to bother messing with. Reminder that this only includes players that have seen minutes. There are a total of almost 600 MLS players. For the sake of this exercise, we will consider the players not getting minutes as unused inventory.

Here are the top 10 players completely outperforming their contracts (by %). Each of these players make less than $60k in guaranteed salary.

Justin Morrow (SJ), Steven Beitashour (SJ), Ryan Meara (NY), Rafael Baca (SJ), Connor Lade (NY), Daniel Woolard (DC), Brian Meredith (SEA), Josh Williams (CLB), Lee Nguyen (NE), Jeb Brovsky (MON).

Here are how Crew players look when pulling things apart in this way (% above current salary):

Josh Williams (+350%)
Andy Gruenebaum (+220%)
Eric Gehrig (+190%)
Kirk Urso (+180%)
Kevan George (+160%)
Bernardo Anor (+130%)
Aaron Schoenfeld (+125%)

Justin Meram (+80%)
Cole Grossman (+75%)
Sebastian Miranda (+70%)
Emilio Rentería (+50%)
Ethan Finlay (+50%)
Eddie Gaven (+40%)
Nemanja Vukovic (+30%)

Danny O'Rourke (-10%)
Tony Tchani (-15%)
Milovan Mirosevic (-20%)
Carlos Mendes (-20%)

Olman Vargas (-30%)
Julius James (-39%)
Chad Marshall (-50%)
Dilly Duka (-64%)

Still a lot of MLS season to go so we will see how it turns out. Major League Soccer executives like to talk about the stability of their league. Looking up and down the talent in the league and seeing what they are paid, I would agree. Just not in the way they might like.

There are too many underpaid players in this league, which means MLS is ripe for the pickin' from other leagues. They (MLS) need to let go of talent more easily and reward teams that develop it more fruitfully. It's not a surprise that teams from California, Missouri, Ohio and Texas make my list. They all have talent to spare.

This is a working model and I should probably not get this specific (rounding is our friend).


There have been a significant number of high profile "designated player (DP)" trades in MLS this year. To be frankly honest, I think a DP player is useless and a waste of money, time and resources for most clubs.

The recent Crew signing, in particular, is baffling to me. Why? For the most part the Crew have stuck to a formula Simon Kuper (and Stefan Szymanski) wrote about in a their ever so popular book; Soccernomics. Embedded deep in that book was a chapter about helping players adapt to new cultures. While I found it informative and valuable for a Barclay's Premier League like clubs bringing in players from half a world away I felt it relatively unimportant for Major League Soccer teams. Why? Well, the pressure is mostly off in this league and the US is a melting pot. Round a corner and you will probably find folks from your homeland.

Be it lack of funds or otherwise... The Crew have taken the importance of helping players adapt to new cultures (ie. OHIO) to a NEW LEVEL.

Two players from California (Marshall, Grossman), two from Chile (Mirosevic, Miranda), two from Costa Rica (Vargas, Arrieta), two from Indiana (Gehrig, Balchan), two from Missouri (Gruenebaum, Heinemann).

Shall I go on? *deep breath*

Two from New Jersey (Duka, Gaven), two from Tennessee (Schoenfeld, Lampson), two from Venezuela (Anor, Renteria), and two from Trinidad and Tobago (James, George).

I've buried it here in this post because it's nearly comical and just about laugh out loud ridiculous. What's even more ridiculous is that they employ this superficial "buddy system" with just about everyone except their most expensive purchase.

Federico Higuaín.

*MLS salary regulations get wonky when players make above 350k. Product manipulation, centralized control, all that snuff so I cap it at the max cap hit