Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cap Post on Massive Report

Put together a cap summary post on Massive Report tonight. The point of it was to get across the fact that the Crew have plenty of space and that it is getting a little late in the game to have it (perhaps).

I also posted up a mess of shots in the dark on salaries. We'll know soon enough if they are correct. The more I play around with salary figures the more I am starting to think the Crew way over paid for Viana and Glauber. I have them around 100k, but it's entirely possible they are closer to 200k.

One other thing I am reaching on is Josh Williams salary. I put him up at 70k. It's likely he has a new contract and based on his likely starter status I estimate it to be at least that much. Fellow NE Ohio player Justin Morrow, who was just in the USMNT game got a raise mid year 2012 (44k to >100k).

Anyhow, check out the post over there. I'm happy I got a roster post up. Out of my system.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Massive Report Post on Duka, more

Posted a longer type form post on Duka over at Massive Report. When the post first started to take shape I just wanted to go week to week and use quotes from game recaps but as I went on I realized that there weren't enough mentions of Duka other than a couple assists and a team of the week nomination about halfway through the year. This isn't unique to Duka or any other player. It's more of limited coverage of MLS teams. I'm sure it could be done for players like Henry/Beckham and of course any player on the Seattle roster though.

Going through his season I can see where the frustration set in. As soon as he recovered from his game one injury and started getting minutes he really started to improve the team (also, it helped that Mirosevic was not out there during that time). Once Mirosevic got healthy and Federico Higuain came in, things really changed.

The difference between when Duka was on the field and when he was off was crazy. I really don't have much of an explanation for that other than the complete change in tactics late in the game by the coach. Speaking of which, the coach uses 3 subs each game, regardless of what is going on at the time. Part of that behavior is probably what drove Duka and a few other players crazy.

Duka ended the year +5 on Goal Differential which ended up being around +0.36 per start. Good enough for 3rd on the team. His 2.00 pts per start was 2nd best on the club.

His final record was 8 wins, 2 draws and 4 loss.

Duka is a good player. He's been with the club since 2010 and you could tell a familiarity was there when he was on the field. Definitely something the Crew need more of in 2013.

What's frustrating for me is that I have not found evidence anywhere that the Crew look at any type of measurement I list above. I think it more comes down to how well players get along with coach's and mentions from pundits. The recent addition of the coaches son to the list of trialists in Florida all but confirms this sort of behavior.


There were two things that stuck in my mind when writing the post.

1. Watch around minute 3:25 of the video. It's the 30th minute of the Chivas USA game where Duka skips the bench and sets the team off. It's where the picture in this post comes from. Duka takes a shot / cross off a nifty back heel from J Williams. It heads out of bounds for a goal kick. There is a tight shot of him after the play, he just looks exhausted from trying way too hard and beat down from whatever the coaching staff was doing to him.

2. Playing a lot of Max Payne 3. Yes. There is a beautifully set scene in Hoboken, NJ about a third into the game. I've been up that way and also have met a handful of folks from that part of NJ over the years and they are great people. Also, completely different then around here and certainly different than Robert Warzycha. Anyhow, Duka is from about a half hour west of there. I dunno, guess you had to be there. Here's a picture I took.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Crew Roster Update, In Flux

Here is an updated summary on the Crew roster as far as I can figure going into this weekend.


$2.22 Million : Salary to Cap

$2.95 Million : 2013 MLS Cap*

$730k : Open Cap Space

Salary to cap includes my own estimates on wage increases over last year. Overall, I'm including a 8.6% pay increase from players with contracts carrying over to the Crew.

ROSTER SIZE (estimate)

23 : Players with Crew Contracts (20 : to Cap)

9 : Players "on Trial"

32 : Total



Blake Brettschneider
Drew Beckie
Daniel Withrow
Reed Matte
Shawn Sloan
*Nate Bascom (ONU)
*Kyle Hyland (IUPUI)
*Krystian Witkowski (PHI)
*Sercan Güvenisik (SJE)

[*UPDATED, SAT JAN 26 2012: Added players. Thank you Erik Bobbitt for the Guvenisik note]

I'm pretty sure that most the trialists have a strong shot of getting signed due to small roster size. Brettschneider would be a good get for the Crew and I'm basically calling Beckie signed.

Columbus has a mountain for salary cap space. Matias Sanchez is rumored to be heading to Columbus but is as of yet confirmed. I would not expect Sanchez to be a Designated player but would expect his salary to be at Mirosevic levels (200-250k).

In my roster image. Guys in blue are estimated. Not in blue but given a raise is Josh Williams. I suspect with him being pegged for a starting role he will make starting salary (65-100k for US born MLS players).

Keep an eye on Massive Report. I'll start posting this roster stuff there once the team takes better shape in the next couple weeks.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Goldmine Under Their Feet, MLS USL PRO

Maybe it's just a convoluted dream but MLS and USL have some sort of agreement in terms to start doing something like playing a couple 'reserve' games against each other and / or MLS club's loaning up to four players to an (as of yet) annexed USL team. Okay, got that?

The details of this clunky partnership don't really address the issue of roster size (or the prohibitive salary cap).

On Roster size: Currently MLS clubs can carry 30 players. That's basically a Senior Team size yet MLS squeezes a 'reserve team' in there too. As a result, and as things stand, you see some reserve games played by unused subs from the previous day's game, some that actually did play the day before or in some cases just cancelled.

Allowing MLS teams to 'loan' players to a USL team only weakens the first team right now. It also seemingly leaves more players in a strange limbo of not being valuable enough for a loan (where they will face off against a MLS 'reserve' team of mostly 1st team players twice a year?) or just being way down the pecking order shagging balls kicked into Columbus Motor Speedway behind the training facility.

On one side you have MLS who wants better players and to gain a few fans on different areas of the country and on the other you have USL Pro who wants to grab hold of some of Major League Soccer's success. Neither seem to want to spend money to achieve their wants.

What still baffles me is that the US (and Canada. Ok, North America) are sitting on an absolute goldmine. There is a near unlimited supply of athletes in this country. The more you can get trained up and to professional level the more money is to be made by selling said athletes. Or, just keeping them and winning things (I prefer the latter). The fact that there isn't an organized plan to tap into this is kinda dumb (for lack of a better word).

It's an odd first step by both leagues but is one that needs to be taken to improve the game in this country.

Link to MLS press release.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Crew Roster Update: Drop, Add, Limbo

The Columbus Crew made a handful of roster moves over the past week or so which include:

Released from the 2nd year on his weighty $200k contract with the Crew. Reports say that no fees (or allocation) were paid to either the Crew or Major League Soccer, which seems strange. The stance from the Crew seems to be that of a jaded boyfriend though ('she wasn't that good anyway' type stuff). From my perspective, he was not worth the $200k (I can argue that almost no MLS players are). Freeing that space up is more valuable but for it to have taken this long sets the team back.

Ryan was drafted 9th overall. Last week I took a look at draftees over the past few seasons for MASSIVE REPORT and found that top 10 picks median is in the $65k range. I expect Ryan to be there as well.

Another draft pick last week. Based on where Beckie was drafted I expect him to pull $44k and not count towards the salary cap number.

From a Crew perspective the Duka trade with Chicago's Dominic Oduro seems all but done but I can't find a whole lot of interest from the Chicago side. I know that Chicago is really looking to dominate the MF like they have in the past couple years and that Duka could fill a top 18 need but it seems like more of a 'thing' for Columbus more than the Fire. Again, like with Mirosevic, it is way too late to do this kind of thing. The draft should have been the drop dead date for this deal and even then it was too late.

Duka staying with the Crew or not matters little to the overall salary cap hit. If the Crew trade for Oduro or not. The cap hit is likely around the $100k range. Ah. MLS. Gotta love all the non-value added change that ends up costing each club more than the actual deal. Go with it. Feel it - all you club "technical directors". Justify it. Make that move. YES. THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS MOVE.

Actually, over at Massive Report I talked about not making that move. It might mean more to keep your "core" together, no matter the cost. Check it out.


The first thing that struck me when the official news of Milovan Mirosevic came down was that of something David Burgin (*more after the block quote) and I talked about last summer, about halfway through the 2012 season.

June 8th, 2012 to be precise. The post was an EPIC and we covered just about everything CREW. Here is an excerpt from that conversation that covered Milovan Mirosevic:


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

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

BURGIN: Mmm, freshly poured stout, patience and a bar stool.


*For those that don't know, Mr. Burgin wrote about the Crew for Global Football Today until this past summer when his life became a little too busy for him to cover the club. His unique take on the Crew (often poetic) is missed. His take on Mirosevic (above) was dead on.


Here's one of my favorite Burgin gems. It comes from a post entitled: Seattle 0-2 Crew. TV On, Feet Up, Window Open. Musical Score for Intense Game Provided by Kermit and Cousins.

"With hundreds of Frogs and Toads belting out their version of the underdog’s aria from the pond not far from my open window, I watched Gruenebaum and his Columbus Crew teammates shoot across the unfriendly confines of the Seattle Sounder’s packed stadium; finishing a daunting two game West coast road trip with a stunning 2-0 victory over the Emerald City team. Joining Andy Gruenebaum in the spectacular night time display, once again, was Justin Meram."


Those that view things from the abstract. The poetic. They; from behind the easels that litter the landscapes of lost countrysides. Them that through the lens of artistic perspective - gain it. They are often those who have already tread where you are now. Learn to seek them out in all their seeming absurdity and consume as much as you can.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Favorite Finley Faults

The Crew drafted Ryan Finley 9th overall in Thursday's MLS 'super draft'. Looking at his measurables he is definitely a top 15 pick but looking around at post draft grades there seems to be some missing gaps.

Top Drawer Soccer: "...Finley who has a burst of pace, but [The Crew] may have reached..."

WV Hooligan: "Finley is a solid player at number nine but I do still have question marks about him."

MLS Soccer: "[Warzycha] also tends to run a tight ship discipline-wise, yet he gambled his first-round pick on Ryan Finley, this rookie crop’s most prominent maverick."


Ah. A question many ask Duke students. Well, with Finley we know he played there a couple years and was on his way to a Generation Adidas contract but was suspended a couple games at the tail end of his sophomore season. He then transferred to Notre Dame - but no concrete reasons behind the suspension or why he transferred. We'll never really know. It's Duke and, well... Notre Dame. With that in mind, my seemingly endless five minute investigation ended.


"What scouts say," type thing exists over at the MLS site. Walking through these it appears that most were written by each player's respective college coach or staff member. With Finley's scouting report words like "cheeky" and "tad bit" are there which leads me to believe it was written by his coach, Bobby Clark. A Scot. Not exactly a bunch that holds things back.

Reading through Ryan Finley's italicized summary I found myself liking the kid because of his faults. A lot.


1. The biggest question mark is his attitude ...
I like this. He should have one, he's a forward.

2. Might be a tad selfish ...
Good. He's a goal scorer. Bad attitude and selfish are ingredients 1 and 2.

3. Also, can he play quicker and think quicker in MLS? ...
So, speed questions. I've watched what I could on him. He looks a little slow but so are most defenders in MLS. He's got the size that he'll need against big MLS defenders. The creativity is the unknown.

4. Coming back in midfield and combining is not his game ...
He'll fit right in with Jairo Arrieta and Federico Higuain then (hardy har).

5. Not at his best when he's involved in build-up play.
Ever watched a MLS game between two mid-table clubs? Build-up?

5a. Not a good link-up guy. Needs to learn to combine better ... Plays with his head down and will miss teammates at times. Questions about his overall ability to pass and to play ... He needs players that can play him in behind ...
Alright already. Got it. 5. and 5a. match up with 1. and 2.

6. Has a reputation for being a diver ...
OKAY. This one needs to be fixed.


Powerful, quick runner. On the field he can run hard at you with the ball, he's two-footed and scores with both feet ... A great finisher and has a nose for the goal. Rides the offside line and is difficult to deal with ... Always at the right place at the right time ...Intense and will come into Player Combine fit ...

Definitely an MLS player ...



Robert Warzycha has a history of loving this type player. He was picked in the top 10 so he will get at least a 500-1000 minute type look. If so, I expect him to bank a goal or two. Warzycha's face after each should be priceless.



This post started out has as something more formal but it got a little loose. Head over to Massive Report for more information on Ryan Finley and his selection during the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. Not looking to sort out hero / anti hero stuff over there. I should have more presentable type-ish information on Finley, Beckie and other new Crew players there soon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Massive Report Post, Added Notes

Over at Massive Report, my 2nd: MLS SUPERDRAFT: "Four Beers and a Prayer"

I buried it but the "Four Beers..." refers to the Crew Technical Director's comment last week about how some deals get done in advance of the draft. Basically he said they happen at a bar the night before. I thought it was funny that an exact number was called out. It's as if to say that it's more than a couple - but not a six pack. I know (hope??) it was a facetious statement, but thought it was very telling considering the Crew aren't making any moves yet.


At the end of the MR post I make reference to a 1964 25 year old scotch. If you walk that back it takes you to the start of WWII. I've heard of scotch around this time because of my English grandmother who was in the RAF at that time. This is a near priceless single malt. I've never, and will never, have that scotch. Not many will. The reference is more for me.

My nana turned 90 this past November. Most of my family gathered on the Outer Banks of NC to celebrate. I'm hoping to write more about this soon but will share one of my favorite moments was her kicking around a hallway full of balloons.

"Your pretty good at that," I said.

"We did invent this game, you know" was the response.

A passing comment for her but sober reminder and perspective giving statement of many things for me. One (among a great many) of which is that she was around when most EPL teams are where most MLS teams are now.

Shortly after that she reminded me, whilst pointing to the 20+ family members in the room, that "when I came here all those years ago, it was just me and your mother."

(In sharpish English tone).


One of the things that is still grabbing hold of my attention is exceptionally small size of the Crew roster this close to the season. Some of this might have to do with the MLS schedule moving up a couple weeks but that's hardly an excuse for having a roster number well short of 'adequate' for any full professional team in any league in the world.

The 5 picks the Crew have between tomorrow's "super draft" and Jan. 22 supplemental draft will/could take the roster up to 26. Add + 2 for the rumored "international" signings seems to round the roster out nicely for the Crew.

Lots of red flags though. Like, why shed so many experienced players and pile on loads of work in the upcoming draft? Going with an unknown is always a gamble but going with this many is a giant goddamn risk.

A lot of these moves smell like 'keep em young and dumb' type things. Which is a control tactic (in sports, business and relationships) that is usually part of a downward spiral (which can often be destructive).

My illustration on MLS SUPERDRAFT: "Four Beers and a Prayer" comes from the fact that I needed to post things up early enough in front of the draft tomorrow. I finished the post a couple days ago but wanted an illo. Busy last night but wanted to get it up today. I was at work so it's all done in MS EXCEL, converted to PDF and saved as a JPG in MS Powerpoint. What?! all I had, missed lunch for that sucker.

Here's some 8-Bit Weapon to get you in the mood.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

RETURNING v NOT, MR Accompaniment

This post accompanies a post over on MASSIVE REPORT.

In that post I talked about individual player results when starting. I didn't want it to go on forever and only wanted to focus on team results and not muddy the waters with other metics.

First things first though, I would like to publicly thank Patrick Guldan, Editor of MASSIVE REPORT for the invite to write there. Had a great time putting together my first post and hope folks enjoy what I put there.

ON PITCH Goal Diff vs. TOP HALF 2012 : GS
+1.00 : Cole Grossman 5
+0.80 : Nemanja Vukovic 5
+0.63 : Dilly Duka 8
+0.50 : Carlos Mendes 8
+0.00 : Justin Meram 10

-0.06 : Joshua Williams 16
-0.06 : Sebastián Miranda 16

-0.10 : Chris Birchall 10
-0.14 : Danny O´Rourke 7
-0.14 : Tony Tchani 7
-0.18 : Andy Gruenebaum 17
-0.24 : Eddie Gaven 17
-0.25 : Emilio Renteria 8
-0.40 : Jairo Arrieta 10
-0.60 : Julius James 5
-0.64 : Chad Marshall 11
-0.67 : Milovan Mirosevic 9

I'm posting GD in support of the Results when Starting metric on MASSIVE REPORT. They match up. One of the reasons I felt it needed supporting data is because this metric can be see as similar to W/L for a pitcher in baseball, which can be a very misleading measure. But because of the rules in soccer the way I'm using it would be like if every pitcher pitched minimum of 8 innings an outing. W/L would be much more reliable in that case. I believe it to be, anyway.

2011 PpGM vs. Top Half : GS
2.00 : Rich Balchan 8
1.86 : Kevin Burns 7
1.73 : Eddie Gaven 11
1.57 : Emmanuel Ekpo 14
1.44 : Chad Marshall 16
1.43 : Julius James 14
1.43 : Tom Heinemann 7
1.40 : Dejan Rusmir 5
1.40 : Emilio Renteria 5
1.36 : Joshua Gardner 11
1.35 : Sebastián Miranda 17
1.25 : Will Hesmer 16
1.14 : Andrés Mendoza 14
1.08 : Robbie Rogers 13
0.63 : Dilly Duka 8

whoa! Hadn't looked at 2011 till recently. Balchan contributed greatly when facing tougher teams. You'll alo note that the team did much better against stronger competition. I'm convinced that had this year been a balanced schedule the Crew might have really suffered (feed off bad teams in east). In 2011 the team finished with 1.40 Pts per Game vs top half (1.18 in 2012, huge drop).

Avg GD on Pitch vs TOP HALF as Substitute : GS
+0.50 : Kevan George 2

0.00 : Aaron Schoenfeld 3
0.00 : Bernardo Anor 1
0.00 : Emilio Renteria 4
0.00 : Julius James 2
0.00 : Milovan Mirosevic 1
0.00 : Nemanja Vukovic 2
0.00 : Tony Tchani 5

-0.17 : Ethan Finlay 6
-0.33 : Olman Vargas 3
-0.40 : Dilly Duka 5
-0.50 : Danny O´Rourke 2
-0.50 : Eric Gehrig 2
-0.50 : Federico Higuaín 2
-0.50 : Justin Meram 4
-0.50 : Shaun Francis 2
-1.00 : Chris Birchall 1
-1.00 : Cole Grossman 2
-1.00 : Matt Lampson 1

Not enough here to really go on, not enough. I will say the difference between what these players do as subs is a lot worse then how they do as starters. Indicating they aren't being used properly.

The team got outscored 23 to 10 when facing top half when putting subs on. Yikes! Doesn't get much better when looking at all opponents: outscored 39 to 29 when subs were on. Man. Gonna have to look more into this. Not good results.

Justin Meram probably got the most attention as a sub. Overall he went 7 goals for and 3 against. All 7 of those goals came against weaker competition.

Duka, probably predictably, did not do well as a sub going 2 GF with 5 against, overall. Which is much worse then is starting data.

11 : Renteria, Meram, Finlay
8 : Tchani
6 : Anor, Duka, Schoenfeld
5 : James, Grossman
4 : Vargas, Francis, Gehrig
3 : Vukovic, O´Rourke, George, JWilliams
2 : Lampson, Higuaín
1 : Birchall, Heinemann, MMirosevic
These two illustrations come from an unused absinthe fueled post that chopped individual player results into THREE categories (top 5, middle 9, bottom 5) THEN chopped them into 1st half and 2nd half of the season. That worked out to be 6 different categories of results to explain. Too much!

Finally, here's a list of all 39 different Crew starters since the start of 2011:

Aaron Schoenfeld, Andrés Mendoza, Andy Gruenebaum, Andy Iro, Ben Speas, Bernardo Anor, Carlos Mendes, Chad Marshall, Chris Birchall, Cole Grossman, Danny O´Rourke, Dejan Rusmir, Dilly Duka, Eddie Gaven, Emilio Renteria, Emmanuel Ekpo, Eric Gehrig, Ethan Finlay, Federico Higuaín, Jairo Obando Arrieta, Jeff Cunningham, Joshua Gardner, Joshua Williams, Julius James, Justin Meram, Kevan George, Kevin Burns, Kirk Urso, Matt Lampson Milovan Mirosevic, Nemanja Vukovic, Olman Vargas, Rich Balchan, Robbie Rogers, Sebastián Miranda, Shaun Francis, Tom Heinemann, Tony Tchani, Will Hesmer.

Lots of great players in there.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Barson Signs, Crew Cap and Roster Update

Chad Barson, a 6'10" 170 lbs Defender and multi-year starter from The University of Akron has joined the 2013 Crew roster as a Homegrown signing. For more information of the player check out the Akron website or the Official Columbus Crew outlet (which includes a rather awkward locker room picture).

With the addition of Barson the Crew roster ticks up to 22 players. Once the club roster fills up to 28-30 players I do not believe he will count towards the cap given the available information out there (roster spots 21-30 don't hit cap so this puts him in the $35-47k range).

Here are estimates by position, to date:
$860k : Midfield
$680k : Forward / Attacking
$630k : Defense
$85k : Goalkeeper



Here is a chart with the same information:

There are rumors that the club is close to two international signings (news via various twitter accounts including the Dispatch's Adam Jardy, who also quoted GM Mark McCullers addressing the office staff with, "We can win with this group." Implying that the Crew are comfortable with current roster going into the season. Key phrase, "can win" needs to change to "will win".

Monday, January 7, 2013

USMNT January Camp MLS Heavy, No Gaven

Jurgen Klinsmann and staff picked their players for January camp in lead up to a game with Canada on Jan 29 and Honduras on February 6th. The list has 25 total players, 21 of which are currently playing in Major League Soccer.

While I think Eddie Gaven should be called in, I do think Klinsmann does a good job at picking in form MLS players. Below will be the list of call ups with those of whom I believe got "snubbed". So, instead of just going with my feelings I'm going to use process. What I am going to do is use my own MLS player ratings from the 2012 season to do so.

"HB Player Score" = My own MLS player rank that I update throughout the regular season. It can be found on the right of this page or here.
HB Player Score : My USA MLS Rank : Name : POS : Team
84 : 1 : Steven Beitashour : D : San Jose
84 : 2 : Justin Morrow : D : San Jose
74 : 4 : Matt Besler : D : Kansas City
72 : 6 : Tony Beltran : D : Real Salt Lake
66 : 9 : Jeff Parke : D : Philadelphia
65 : 15 : A.J. DeLaGarza : D : LA Galaxy
55 : 21 : Connor Lade : D : New York
33 : n/a : Omar Gonzalez : D : LA Galaxy

72 : 6 : Bobby Boswell : D : Houston
71 : 7 : Chance Myers : D : Kansas City

The MLS list for Defenders is good, not any real notable misses here. Boswell has been around for quite some time and had another excellent year. He and the Crew's Chad Marshall cut from the same cloth. Honestly, I'm not sure where Boswell stands as far as interest in the USMNT these days. Sometimes players just fall out of favor. Also, I've came to terms with the fact that Myers is a good player, call him in already.


85 : 1 : Graham Zusi : M : Kansas City
72 : 5 : Brad Davis : M : Houston
70 : 8 : Kyle Beckerman : M : Real Salt Lake
66 : 9 : Brad Evans : M : Seattle
48 : 18 : Benny Feilhaber : M : Kansas City

78 : 2 : Eddie Gaven : M : Columbus Crew
77 : 3 : Dax McCarty : M : New York
75 : 4 : Sam Cronin : M : San Jose
70 : 7 : Perry Kitchen : M : DC United

MF is where I feel Klinsmann deviated from picking based on results and went more with his gut and / or who he feels fits his system. Eddie Gaven, Dax McCarty and Sam Cronin should be disappointed. I had Eddie Gaven ranked 9th overall in the league and, as a US citizen, only behind Zusi. The only reasons for his exclusion would be because he mostly plays out of position (or in multiple ones), goes down too easy and plays for a coaching staff that isn't well regarded.


100 : 1 : Chris Wondolowski : F : San Jose
73 : 3 : Will Bruin : F : Houston
69 : 6 : Eddie Johnson : F : Seattle
30 : 11 : Edson Buddle : F : Colorado
28 : 13 : Juan Agudelo : F : Chivas

77 : 2 : Kenny Cooper : F : New York
71 : 4 : Chris Pontius : F : DC United
70 : 5 : C.J. Sapong : F : Kansas City

Too often are attacking players chosen because of how well the could be. I like both Eddie Johnson and Edson Buddle but if they have been outdone by others in the same league, why call them? I heard Pontius turned the camp down due to injury. I've heard nothing on Cooper. I like him and think that outside of support from Thierry Henry, can help you win games. Agudelo is just on my bad list. He has yet to prove anything other than 'show promise'. I believe in results. You should too.


70 : 2 : Tally Hall : GK : Houston Dynamo
69 : 4 : Sean Johnson : GK : Chicago Fire
54 : 10 : Bill Hamid : GK : D.C. United

No 'snubs' here. I really like that Tally Hall got a call. Andy Gruenebaum? I think he is right here with Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid (and Nick Rimando) but with GK position it is more about familiarity (for me). Pick a guy and stick with him.

All the players picked played for teams in the top half of the table, save for Juan Agudelo

Friday, January 4, 2013

Empty Stables, Open Paddock

The Crew have a small roster. In fact it's the smallest roster in the league as of this post. This should bother you if you are a fan of the Columbus Crew because - teams with few returning players or those clubs with Major League Soccer experience - do rather poorly.

If reports about a few players are true then the Crew are just barely hanging on to a league low of 21 players signed. Emilio Renteria and Sebastian Miranda have recently been confirmed as not coming back and Danny O'Rourke and Tony Tchani were very close to not making it back.

Could it be that the difference between a disastrous/embarrassing 2013 campaign and a mid-table team rests on re-signing O'Rourke and Tchani? Right now, the answer is 'yes'.

Below is the club's current signed roster with estimated salaries. I will group them based on how they will be played in 2013. An asterisk* will be put next to players of whom I am estimating.

324,000 : Federico Higuain
310,000 : Chad Marshall
225,375 : Jairo Arrieta
223,333 : Milovan Mirosevic
190,000 : Eddie Gaven
100,000 : Danny O'Rourke*
78,667 : Andy Gruenebaum
70,560 : Josh Williams*

100,000 : Tony Tchani*
75,000 : Tyson Wahl*
70,575 : Justin Meram
70,500 : Aaron Horton
60,000 : William Trapp*
59,000 : Ethan Finlay
58,000 : Ben Speas
47,187 : Bernardo Anor
47,080 : Eric Gehrig
47,080 : Matt Lampson
44,000 : Aaron Schoenfeld
44,000 : Kevan George

110,000 : Dilaver Duka

This puts the club at $2.3 MIL towards the 2.95 MIL cap (Schoenfeld, George not counting towards cap). I expect the difference betwixt current salaries and cap will be used on starters.

GK : Andy Gruenebaum

RB : Josh Williams
CB : Chad Marshall

MF : Danny O'Rourke
MF : Eddie Gaven
MF : Milovan Mirosevic

CAM : Federico Higuain
ST : Jairo Arrieta

With preseason just around the corner it's hard to say the Crew are in good shape. I don't feel it should be this hard to argue that success is in the cards. Too much change. No player development. Too little consistency. Questionable direction.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Crew Sign Wahl, Roster/Cap Update

Busy day today as the Crew Operations staff must be back from their holiday breaks.

• Tyson Wahl Signed
Wahl is a serviceable and experienced MLS player. He first saw time when he was drafted 19th in the "2006 SuperDraft"+ to KC. From there he went on to have productive years with Seattle before falling into an expansion draft vortex last year that few return from.

Columbus view him as a solid backup to whomever they end up signing for the Left Back position. The club has made it known that they want an international player in that role. "We've got some things in the works, but sometimes things go afoul and don't work out. If they don't work out, Tyson is our guy at leftback." - Brian Bliss to Cody Sharrett on

My Thought: Tyson seems to want a chance to start but the Crew outright told him he is a 2nd choice to, well... a player they sign later on. My prediction? Hindsight will probably prove that keeping Nemanja Vukovic was the better option. His performance metrics were good to above average, the coaching staff just had a problem with his personality. Bad business.

• Brian Bliss shoots down Mirosevic Rumors
Craig Merz also had an article today that attempted to shoot down any chatter about Milovan Mirosevic going back home to Chile. Bliss went as far to say that Mirosevic's agent called him to "refute the article" floating around. They don't state which article it was but did confirm that it was "on the internet and all that".

• Sebastian Miranda isn't coming back.

• Emilio Renteria's Contract expired. [+++UPDATED]
To my knowledge, most Major League Soccer contracts expire on December 31st. Renteria's is probably no different. With that, he is no longer officially a Columbus Crew player. Hard to tell where new contract negotiations are so for now I've taken him off the club roster (along with his salary).


Adjusting for expected annual salary increases (7-12%) the Crew now sit around $2.25++ million to the $2.95 million cap and a total roster size of a whopping 21. This leaves around $700k to round out the roster.

I still expect three local kids to sign Homegrown deals that don't hit the cap (league minimums, ~$44k) that will take the roster to 24. What this means is that the Crew have that $700k waiting for 3-6 players. So, either they are going to pay some draft picks big salaries or they are looking to make a couple high profile signings along the likes of Mirosevic, Olman Vargas or Jairo Arrieta last year.

We'll see, I guess. Either way, plenty of bank remaining, interesting now that so many were let go. What happened to that cap excuse? Seems remarkably false now.

"It's a casualty of how the League is set-up and structured." - Bliss, Nov. 28th.

+Of note on the 2006 MLS SuperDraft: Columbus picked Jason Garey (with Carolina Railhawks), Kei Kamara (Sporting KC) and Jed Zayner (retired this year) ahead of Tyson Wahl.

++A few salaries are estimated as MLS does not make this information public until spring. Danny O'Rourke and Tony Tchani, estimated at 100k. Wil Trapp, $60k (Tchani's may be low, hard to tell. Not many examples of GA players getting restructured like his). If you want more salary info you can email me at ljbaby654 @ gmail.

+++[UPDATE]Per Renteria not coming back. HC Warzycha "...we offered him a contract and he didn't take it. We haven't had a conversation with him the last couple of weeks."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

USMNT PPG Since 1988 (Chart)

This post could have been titled; "2012. Second Most Successful Year in US Men's National Team History" because by a Points Earned Per Game measure, it was. Jürgen Klinsmann has righted the ship after Bob Bradley coached team that was sinking.*

Some notes and interesting facts.

I started in 1988 because that's when this current era of United States Soccer started (not calling it 'modern'). It also marks the start of the US team playing at least 10 matches a year. Only earlier year would be 1973 when the team played 12 games.

Between the years of 1981 and 1983 the team only played two games.

In 2012 the USMNT only played on home turf six times. You have to go all the way back to 1987 to see less than that (when the team only played a total of three games all year). The average is around 11 games at home a year.

Since 1988 the US have averaged around 70% of games at home. 2012 was 43% (6 of 14).

I like what Herr Klinsmann is doing. While he hasn't faced the toughest competition (I rate 2010, 09, 02, 99, 95 as more difficult since 1988) has he achieved historically significant results away from home.

Had this team won in Russia it would hold the title of most points earned per game in US Soccer history. Instead, it's 2nd behind 2005's team (2.25 PPG, 14 W, 3 D, 3 L).

There are lots of different ways to measure success on the National Team level. When you step back and spend some time with the actual results you might find that Klinsmann is doing something impressive.

I'm no USMNT expert but do find myself digging around her history from time to time. The more I do so the more I realize the US has a very rich footballing history that I hope gets explored more. My data is primarily from the website (and I do realize some early results can be disputed).

*Three data points in any direction is a trend.