Friday, May 31, 2013

Operation Sellout

[Artwork by Massive City FFC]

With the strength of 100 MLS ticket sales interns and the mind of a combined 61.7 sales executives, Massive Report colleague Matt Goshert has been and is on a mission. A mission to sellout this weekend's home match against the Houston Dynamo.

If you are in Columbus town head on over to watch some soccer tomorrow.

Find out more, here:



Thursday, May 30, 2013

Eddie Gaven's Injury [UPDATED]

Late on in an inspired game against the Dayton Dutch Lions, Eddie Gaven was tackled by Taylor Lord while charging down the inside edge of the 18 yard box. Lord seemed to get the ball but also sent Gaven tumbling to the ground.

In looking through the Crew Facebook page today I noticed that there were two photos taken by Greg Bartram (for USA Today Sports Images) of the tackle. Be sure to look Greg up if you need a good photographer.

Above are (rather hastily put together) screen caps of two photos taken during the tackle. I found them pretty amazing. Not sure too much can be derived from them right now but after we find out the nature of the injury it might make more sense. I will update as news comes out about his injury.

The Columbus Crew would be dealt a serious body blow if Gaven is out for an extended period of time.

As of the time of this writing the Crew have said it is a leg injury and he is getting it looked at today. Gaven was taken off the pitch on a stretcher and said to have left on crutches.

Along with Federico Higuain, Eddie Gaven was the difference in the Crew's 2:1 win over Dayton last night.

[UPDATE, Thursday May 30, 6 PM: Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch is reporting that the Crew will release Gaven's injury details Friday afternoon. This likely means it is more serious then a normal hamstring or sprained ankle. This may be the old crusty DC side of me talking, but releasing it late also allows the Crew to pull together positive articles to get out in front of the bad news].

[UPDATE; Thursday May 30, 10 PM: It's an ACL injury. Eddie is out for the year. Details to come from the club on Friday. “Eddie Gaven does so many things. If you ask anybody on this club, they’re going to tell you that there’s only one Eddie Gaven." - Robert Warzycha.]

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

US Open Cup, Crew 2:1 Dayton

Columbus took down Dayton at Crew Stadium 2:1 and advance to the next round of the US Open Cup.

In order to sidestep some of the mistakes made the past two years the Crew decided it was best to field an experienced lineup. MLS vets; Gehrig, Glauber, Wahl, Gaven, O’Rourke, Speas, and Higuain all found their numbers called to start along less experienced Matt Lampson, Konrad Warzycha, Chad Barson, and Schoenfeld.

Going back a bit further, Columbus was looking to not lose their 4th game in 5 years to a lower division team.

The game started off with some promise as both teams looked to control the midfield but things went dark for Dayton in the 14th minute when Brock Granger took down Eddie Gaven when he was on his way to goal. He was shown red and Dayton went down to 10 men.

From there the half sort of went stale.

Columbus seemed to come out of the break looking to snatch a goal but only a couple players looked into it. Fortunately, one of those players was Eddie Gaven. He was having one of his hungry games on the evening and placed a pretty shot across the front of the Dayton keeper for a goal. Higuain notched the assist.

After that, again, the game went into a slumber.

After looking like this one was going to end 1:0 Dayton's Shane Smith put one past Lampson to tie it up. Suddenly from there the game looked like an actual game as both teams felt they could win. Crew answered quick though as the Justin Meram was able to tee up a shot from about 20 yards out that bent into the bottom right corner to put the Crew up for good.

This was not the prettiest game and it may have come at some cost to the Crew. Eddie Gaven looked to go down on his shoulder after being knocked down. A handful of Crew players came over to check on him and a couple, including Danny O'Rourke put hands on head as if to know it was serious.

Word is out that it is his leg. Losing Gaven would be a blow to this years playoff chances.

Gaven was the bright spot of this game for the Crew as was Higuain. The Crew backline didn't have too much to do and Aaron Schoenfeld didn't get a lot of looks. Dayton's two CBs did well.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

MLS Enters US Open Cup Today

16 Major League Soccer teams are join the 100th US Open Cup today. Officially it is the third round of the tournament.

Over at Massive Report I break down the Columbus Crew and their upcoming match with Dayton Dutch Lions. Go give it a read if you get a chance.

Somewhat buried in all that fun are my thoughts on all of the MLS matches starting today and tomorrow. Today is a really, really big day for clubs lower down the US Soccer pyramid. I can't emphasis that enough. Really big day. So, here is that pulled out.

May 28, 2013
Most games kick off around 7 PM EST. USL Live on UNATION will have the Kickers v. DC United, Charleston Battery v. San Jose and Orlando v. Colorado Rapids.

Rochester Rhinos v New England Revolution - Rochester, New York

Philadelphia Union v Ocean City Nor'easters - Chester, Pennsylvania
Somewhat mysteriously, the US Soccer took this game away from Ocean City, where it was originally scheduled, and put it in Philly. There should be a large contingent of Nor’easters’ fans in Chester to pull them on.

Richmond Kickers v D.C. United - Richmond, Virginia
Look for the Kickers to put up a good fight but because of the new MLS relationship with USL Pro this is more of a big brother little brother matchup now. Year’s past it these two were pretty fierce enemies.

Sporting Kansas City v Des Moines Menace - Kansas City, Kansas

Los Angeles Blues v Chivas USA - Fullerton, California

Fort Lauderdale Strikers v FC Dallas - Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Orlando City v Colorado Rapids - Orlando, Florida
If there is one team the casual MLS fan might recognize, it is Orlando City SC. Their grassroots bid to become the 20th MLS franchise failed so they will be looking to take down one or two this year during this tournament. They are a team loaded with MLS level players. This one will be good if City can keep their composure.

Real Salt Lake v Atlanta Silverbacks - Sandy, Utah
Fox Soccer studio host and legendary US Men’s National Team player, Eric Wynalda is also the part-time coach of the Silverbacks. For those that remember back to last year, Wynalda took a ammateur side called Cal FC past the Portland Timbers in US Open play.

Charleston Battery v San Jose Earthquakes - Charleston, South Carolina
This game will be streamed on USL Pro’s UNATION service. Watch this game for the beauty of Blackbaud Stadium. In my opinion? Charleston is the team I would have liked most to be the 20th club in MLS. Was able to watch the Battery take on Dayton a few weeks ago... I fully expect Irishman, Colin Falvey and company to give the ‘Quakes fits.

May 29, 2013

Columbus Crew v Dayton Dutch Lions - Columbus, Ohio
Columbus is going to come out with everything they’ve got this year. Should be a great one. Go watch this game already.

Charlotte Eagles v Chicago Fire - Rock Hill, South Carolina
Charlotte has a name that Crew fans will remember in Shaun Francis. Shaun has been playing well for the Eagles. Keep an eye on this result. Chicago will be pressing but might find a side that will not be easy to take down.

New York Red Bulls v Reading United - Harrison, New Jersey

Carolina Railhawks v Los Angeles Galaxy - Cary, North Carolina
LA lost this fixture last year to this same inspired Railhawks side at WakeMed. Look for former Crew starter Mr. Julius James playing in the back line. Also, Robbie Rogers will likely feature in this match. So, give it a watch if you are in the Raleigh-Durham area. No excuses. Know who might be there watching right beside you? Will Hesmer.

Houston Dynamo v FC Tucson - Houston, Texas

Tampa Bay Rowdies v Seattle Sounders FC - Saint Petersburg, Florida
This one should be interesting. I don’t expect a Rowdies win but wouldn’t be suprise if there is an upset here. Brutal travel for Seattle. Saw the Rowdies earlier this year. Not impressive but they do have a great player in Englishman, Luke Mulholland.

Portland Timbers v Wilmington Hammerheads - Portland, Oregon

Monday, May 27, 2013

Crew Rd 12: Draw at NYRB

After leading twice, Columbus will feel a bit disappointed not to get all three points out of this messy affair.

Eddie Gaven came off the first whistle looking like the Eddie Gaven fans are more accustom too. Even after assisting on Dominic Oduro's 2nd minute goal Gaven was going after loose balls, finding space to receive passes, drawing defenders out. His play lifted the Crew as they matched NY, for the most part, in quality of play during the half.

Oduro was injured on the goal he scored and was replaced (curiously) by Aaron Schoenfeld.

In the 31st minute Tim Cahill played a nice longish ball to Thierry Henry who, from the 18 yard box, blooped it over an off his line Andy Gruenebaum.

Some nervy type moments after that goal as Gruenebaum sometimes seems to lose confidence and composure after goals. Fortunately, NY was not able to get any real chances off before the half ended.

Sensing that the Crew were going to play cautiously, the Red Bulls came out aggressive and impatient. Every pass they made was seemingly one searching for a quick goal. Columbus was up for it though, and held NY to just three total shots from the 45th minute to the 82nd.

In the 74th minute there was some controversy as Justin Meram was pushed in the back after mishitting a chance on goal in the box. The ref called the foul and Federico Higuain finished off the penalty shot putting the Crew up 2:1.

Things changed from there. They NY onslaught was on and it put the Crew against the wall a bit. In all the chaos towards the end the Red Bulls' Jonny Steele found Olave for a tying goal.

• Injured Oduro's 8th minute sub; Aaron Schoenfeld, was subbed off for Ben Speas in the 62nd minute. Sub for sub isn't something that happens too often. Not clear of Schoenfeld was tired or just not playing well.

• Speas came on and Meram appeared to move up top in a more attacking roll.

• Meram found the right spots and Gaven was finding him well, just he was way off on his shots. He is rusty but given more time he will find the goal.

• Foul in the Box: The problem with the call is that it was after Meram had already flubbed the shot. It was a sloppy play that permeates MLS play. They are not consistently called in this league because of the talent levels in defending.

• NY's decision to start Dax McCarty was a mistake. Good player but results have been poor with him playing. Doesn't fit.

• No updates on Dominic Oduro's injury, didn't look serious. Interestingly, Oduro has left the game immediately after scoring twice this year due to injury.

• I don't mind the line up decisions for this game. It felt more like a Crew team to have players like Eric Gehrig, Kevan George and Justin Meram out there. I don't think results would be much different were it them or the regular starters. It's club style of play and coaching that puts them mid-table.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Predictions: Columbus Crew v. NY Red Bulls

Good Morning,

The Columbus Crew are in Harrison, New Jersey, on the waterfront across the Passaic River from Newark this evening to take on the Red Bulls. Kick Off is at 5 PM EST.

-Regular starters Chad Marshall, Glauber, Jairo Arrieta and Agustin Viana out for Crew
-NY is on unbeaten run of 6 games (5 wins)
-NY hasn't lost to Crew in past 5 meetings
-13 pts in last 5 for NY, 6 pts for Crew
-I like Jonny Steele
-NY just beat the Crew in Columbus a couple weeks ago 1:0

Going to start off with Bet365 this morning. They like NY with better than even odds (4/6) to win. 11/4 Draw and 4/1 Crew victory.

Win Draw Win's stars align this week. Medium Stake on NY 1:0 win and the 'your vote' section is heavy on NY as well (55%). Crew getting 14% of votes to win.

The EXPERTS at are all NY this week. Nary a win nor draw for the Crew. All six of them going with NY. Looking over yesterday's results, they called all but the RSL / CHI game correctly (as a group). I expect, as the season carries on, for them to have more weeks like this due to the unbalanced schedule.

Same teams playing each other this many times in short time frame makes things predictable.

Got some votes over at this morning. 57.9% of the vote going to NYRB, 26.3 to the Crew.

Drew Epperley at WV Hooligan likes NY 2:0. "A healthy Red Bulls defense is a dangerous thing," he says.

Dispatch beat writer Adam Jardy doesn't lean towards Crew. Thinks today would be a signature win, if it did happen.

Very rare, but across the board it is: Red Bull New York to win this sucker. I wish there were some insider secret that had me thinking otherwise, but there is not.

Crew will be playing their first game of the year without both normally starting CBs and have to continue forging forward with Tyson Wahl at left back. This will likely pull Danny O'Rourke (who has been injured) back to CB to pair with reserve team captain Eric Gehrig.

New York, on the other hand is on fire. Only thing that might trip them up is them. They've played a lot of games this year already and still have this one plus a US Open Cup match and a league game against Vancouver before their 20+ day rest. I'd say they might start taking a vacation early... maybe. If the Crew are lucky.

NY is better than the Crew. Not just fake better, as in better players. But real better, as in better team.

I don't see how the Crew can pull this one off. To do so, a player would have to have an extraordinary day. Is Higuain due? Maybe Eddie Gaven? Come'on normal distribution of data. Work your magic.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Mini MLS Round Up, Week 12

I usually put my round up posts this year over at Massive Report but it was a busy week over there and way too late for a normal roundup, but still... committed to a round up each week. Here are some interesting updates though.

Here is the total number of Best XI player’s grouped by team as chosen by employees.

Number of Players on Best XI : Team
11 : Portland Timbers
10 : Sporting Kansas City, FC Dallas, New York Red Bulls
8 : Seattle Sounders
7 : Montreal Impact, San Jose Earthquakes, Philadelphia Union
6 : Toronto FC, Real Salt Lake, Houston Dynamo, New England Revolution
5 : Colorado Rapids, LA Galaxy
4 : Chivas USA, Vancouver Whitecaps, Columbus Crew
3 : Chicago Fire
2 : D.C. United

Interesting that Portland is way up there. There are still many who are not sold on Caleb Porter and his style of play but the proof might be in the pudding here. Are MLS employees attracted to quality soccer and don't even realize it? Other call outs are San Jose and Toronto FC. Way too many Best XI selections.

Like sands through the hourglass, the Castro Index gains more respect. It’s here. It’s updated regularly. It’s fun. Here is my Crew Castrol Breakdown.

Castrol Rank : Name : Helltown Rank
27 : Dominic Oduro 16
33 : Josh Williams 21
34 : Andy Gruenebaum 51
39 : Chad Marshall 81
65 : Gláuber 48
81 : Ben Speas 177
96 : Federico Higuaín 22

Well. Marshall, Glauber and Ben are not in the current starting eleven but are ranked in the top 100. The number on the right is my own Helltown player rating. What’s up with Higuain Castrol? Castrol also really likes Speas were I have him much lower.

109 : Jairo Arrieta 137
111 : Tyson Wahl 65
152 : Agustin Viana 178
166 : Danny O'Rourke 127
180 : Eddie Gaven 78

Above are players ranked 100-200. I’ve got Tyson and Eddie much higher than Castrol in my Helltown ratings.

After about 200 not too much to get crazy about.

213 : Tony Tchani 216
306 : Matías Sánchez 285
335 : Eric Gehrig 334
338 : Justin Meram 319
353 : Ryan Finley 358
380 : Chad Barson 373
396 : Konrad Warzycha 368
397 : Ethan Finlay 341
398 : Kevan George 371
399 : Aaron Schoenfeld 374

All I’ve got for this week. Busy. I’ll be back on Massive Report next week with a full roundup.

Jay Heaps and the 2nd 3rd

As the season has flown along I'm becoming more and more interested in what the heck is going on with Jay Heaps and his New England Revolution team. I started noticing them early in the year because they holding their own against some really good teams.

Turns out, 11 weeks on, that they have played 10 top half clubs. That's brutal. Crew have only played 3. New England's schedule clears up here during the summer. Should get interesting.

I decided to dig in. Here's that post at Massive Report.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Crew Rd 11: Win over Toronto FC

Eric Gehrig and Justin Meram get their first starts of the year as the Columbus Crew take all three points away from Toronto yesterday.

Toronto put a lot of pressure on the Crew for about the first 15 minutes of the match. They go the looks they needed but failed to finish easy, easy chances.

After the 15th minute the game seemed to settle into a dully paced affair. Federico Higuain fired a couple from distance that came close (one of the crossbar). It wasn't till right before half that the Crew pulled together what most have been waiting fore: Great distribution from Matias Sanchez to Higuain and ownwards to Dominic Oduro for the goal.

Nothing of note happened in the second half.

This game wasn't fun. Fun for supporters and die-hards, yes. But for anyone out there that is a fan of MLS (outside of writers, how many watch other teams then their favorite?) or even just passers by on Fox Sports Ohio, it sucked.

I'm hard pressed to call the play on the field as "so-so". The match was slow, drab, lifeless, and all that. Players looked to be up for it enough but, well. Hard to put your finger on it.

How's this:

Other than a garbage time 90+1' shot by TFC, there was no other open play attempt on goal after the 66th minute by either side.

And Tyson Wahl got a yellow in the 60th minute for time wasting.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Predictions: Crew (A) v Toronto

Good Afternoon,

Columbus is in Toronto this week to take on the Reds. Game starts 5:00 PM EST.

- Toronto has taken the fewest shots of any team this year
- Crew have been shut out last two game, both at home
- Bobby Convey signed by TFC last week, may play
- TFC and DC only teams with only one win
- Last TFC win was 2nd Week of season
- Crew missing starters O'Rourke, Viana, Marshall, Arrieta today


Starting off with both Drew Epperley (WV Hooligan) Patrick Guldan (Massive Report) because both think this has 1:1 draw in it. Epperley puts it well:

I keep waiting for them to turn the corner and be a contender this season but maybe it just isn’t in the cards for them in 2013.

BET365 give Toronto FC fairly normal home odds. Favors them 7/5. Draw 11/5 and Crew Win 2/1.

"Your Vote" predictor at Win Draw Win like the Crew this week, doubling up TFC actually (43% Crew, 21% TFC). They also mention a medium stake on a 1:0 Crew victory. Considering the odds at Bet365, that is the reason.

Pick 'Em club at says this is a Draw as well, five of the six on that panel think that.

I think has given up on MLS. Appears to only be three votes on their poll and the results map is way off.

Adam Jardy likes the Crew this week: "Someone’s luck should change today, and the Crew has the more talented roster."


Looks like everyone has a these two sort of stinking the place up with a bore draw. That's probably not that far off the mark. One thing is for certain is that games like this are the kind that only fans watch. Honestly, even they are finding it harder.

Is it possible that we will see a masterpiece theatre of soccer out there? No. But there is always the chance that we could see a moment of brilliance or two.

The Crew have enjoyed a very easy first 11 games this year. Average opponent league rank is now around 13th. Toronto isn't any good. This is another 'should win' for the Crew.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Updated Kramb's Law Figures

I've updated "on pitch" numbers to date for the Columbus Crew. These are player results based strictly on what happens when a player starts (Win/Draw/Loss) and on the field (Goals For/Against).

• Agustin Viana is the only player that has more wins than losses (3 wins, 2 loss, 3 draws).
• Viana has earned half of possible points when starter, best on Crew.
• Danny O'Rourke has best Goal Diff (GD) when on pitch (+0.56)
• Eddie Gaven, Dominic Oduro, Agustin Viana also good.

• Tyson Wahl. -0.11 GD when on pitch
• Wahl only player with negative GD on club
• Federico Higuian, Jairo Arrieta, and Ben Speas are even on GD but below team average.
• Crew average opponent combined table rank: 12th
• Eddie Gaven and Chad Marshall are only players to make start in at least 1 game in first 10 since 2011.

For a couple years I've been messing around with how players do as starters and not long ago Chemical Engineer, Ryan Kramb asked about results when players were on the pitch.


So... higher the number the better, easier way to put it.

1.89 : Danny O´Rourke
1.75 : Eddie Gaven
1.75 : Agustín Viana
1.50 : Dominic Oduro

1.40 : Andy Gruenebaum
1.40 : Chad Marshall
1.40 : Joshua Williams
1.40 : Gláuber Berti

1.20 : Federico Higuaín
1.17 : Jairo Obando Arrieta
1.00 : Tony Tchani*
1.00 : Ben Speas
0.89 : Tyson Wahl
-2.00 : Matías Sánchez*

*Tchani and Sanchez - less than 5 Starts. Always need 5 starts.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

USOC100 :Dayton defeats River City

I headed on down the road to watch The Dayton Dutch Lions host River City Rovers on May 14th and put together a match recap that I posted at Massive Report. Watching, witnessing and digesting this match gave me one of the best feelings. There was a certain sense of history about it. So much so, that I pulled the post together after I got back to Columbus in the early morning hours.

I will be back in Dayton to watch the 2nd round game when the Lions take on Dearborn Stars (USASA) on May 21st.

Go give it a read HERE.

My recap of when Dayton Lions beat the Crew last year, HERE.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Crew Rd 10: Again? Shutout at Home

Despite generating a number of chances, the Columbus Crew fall to the Colorado Rapids two:nil at Crew Stadium.


This game got off to at fast start. After Jairo Arrieta almost 'stole' an early goal, Colorado game down finished their chance in the 9th minute. The goal was scored by former Crew player Edson Buddle who, without the ball, weaved his way through half of Crew team to get himself in position. Some really poor defensive play as five Crew players were playing the ball.

From there the game turned into more what fans of both these squads have come to expect. Teams on hyper speed, no patience and unable to string 2 or 3 passes together. Columbus did manage a couple shots on target but nothing really troubled the Rapids' goalkeeper.

More of the same. There was a slight difference in the Crew as they usually come out of halftime with a spark. It wasn't there this game. Energy was up but no extra pep. In fact, 10 minutes of the half went by before the Crew were even able to get an attempt off. Odd considering the team had a season high 22 shots on the night.

By the time the 60th minute rolled around the Crew were playing themselves back into better offensive areas. Unfortunately Colorado was able to get a lucky deflection from a Dillon Powers shot that wound up beating Andy Gruenebaum.

From there, even the Nordecke seemed to quiet. The Crew players forged on playing okay but lacked any sort of quality finishing.

• The Crew weren't lacking effort, just lacking skill and patience. Talented players but at times they look like strangers out there.

• What's the rush, Crew? Calm down. I dislike soccer in hot summer temps but it might be the best thing for this group.

• Know that part in Indiana Jones were the guy goes nuts whipping around his sword and Indiana just pulls out his gun and shoots him? That's the Crew in last two games. The sword guy.

• Dominic Oduro is not a midfield player. In order for the Crew to win games they need strong play in the middle third to free up Higuain. Instead, it's pretty much just Eddie Gaven and Higuain running all over the place.

• Crew passing in the middle third was in the 70% range, about the same as Colorado. That needs to be better. Aside: Crew chances came from the Rapids terrible distribution in their own 1/3rd.

• Two losses in row at home, both shutouts. Quickest way to lose your fans.

• This is the only 3 game homestand the Crew have this year. 3pts from it.

• After Toronto FC this weekend the schedule gets pretty difficult. NY, Houston, Philly, Montreal. All teams above them. Crew have proven to struggle with better teams since the middle of last year.

• Lastly, this game was the last for long-time 'does everything' Crew man, Duncan Oughton. I've never heard anyone say a bad thing about him and he has been with the club for a decade. If there was one person in the Crew org that should have been retained, it was him. Duncan heads out for his new assistant coach job in Toronto this week.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Predictions: Crew (H) v Rapids

Good Morning,

Columbus finishes up a three game home stand tonight by hosting a streaking Colorado Rapids team. Kick off is at 7:30 PM EST and 5:30 PM MDT. Temps will be in the low 60s and there is a chance of rain. Good soccer weather.

-Colorado has 3 wins in last 5, draw Houston away two weeks ago
-Crew lost at home last week to NY
-Crew without regulars Danny O'Rourke and Agustin Viana
-Rapids are 1-2-2 Away this year
-Crew only have 1 win in 4 at home in 2013
-When Edson Buddle plays, Rapids have won 3, tied 1
-Crew; 5 pts in last 5, Rapids 10 pts.


Gonna start off with Drew Epperley over at WV Hooligan this week. He puts it down sharply; "This is a game that the Crew have to win if they want to stay with the big boys." He likes the Crew today by 2:0 result.

The same vibe is coming out of offices. All six of the "Pick 'Em" staffers like the Crew. Matt Doyle is still leading the pack with 46% accuracy (they only call on result, not scores). Jason Saghini, Andrew Wiebe, and Kristel Valencia are tied at bottom with 38% accuracy.

Adam Jardy, on the Crew beat for the Dispatch here in town, feels that "anything less than 3 points will be a disappointment." He also mentions that Crew practices have been intense this week coming off last weeks loss to NY.

Meanwhile, over at newly designed nobody seems to interested in an early season CLB COL matchup. My score prediction of 6-7 Colorado stands as 50% of the vote.

Bet365 likes the Crew this week, 10/11 odds to win. 12/5 Draw and 3/1 Colorado Rapids.

Win Draw Win 'your vote' section actually likes Colorado this week. 37% of the vote going their way and another 35% picking a Draw. Surprising stake on a 0:1 Rapids win as well.

Last up is a link to The Burgundy Wave, where writer nickdrfc is thinking positively for his Rapids. Also of note; knows exactly what the Crew are doing.

Over at our own Massive Report, Patrick Guldan thinks the Crew will win 2:1.


Colorado has been a little sneaky this year in getting results as not many expect them to make much noise. They are banged up and very young. Columbus, on the other hand, does have some expectation to do well this year but have not and are healthy.

So, we have a classic sports tale of the moderate overachiever taking on a slightly underachiever.

I am not surprised with the Win Draw Win vote prediction leaning Rapids, especially considering that the Crew is probably too heavily favored over at Bet365. I called this a Rapids win last Monday on the Massive Report podcast before the news of Danny O'Rourke being out. I'll stick by that call.

Columbus does have the ability to score goals if things tilt their way (much more so than the Rapids) but I think that they will be able to gum up the works.

We'll see. Going to be at this one, looking forward to it.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Crew Rd. 9: NY Win at Crew

New York beat the Crew in Columbus last Saturday.

I was not able to catch the game live but was able to see it Monday in time for the Massive Report podcast. As mentioned there, I think that the Crew played well for the Crew but didn't necessarily play well - as in - generally playing soccer well. The Crew did generate good chances but the finishing wasn't good enough to be the New York 'keeper.

This game was one of New York's off games (their Achilles' Heel over the years). Josh Williams and co. did an excellent job of neutralizing Thierry Henry but if the Crew want to be considered as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference (let alone the entire league) they should be taking care of these games at Crew Stadium.

"Looking good" but losing at home 1:0 to a semi-interested club looking down the barrel of a three games in eight day stretch is the hallmark of a mid-table team. Not one whose General Manager still thinks can host the MLS Cup match.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Para Español, Marque el Numero Dos

Columbus Dispatch columnist Bob Hunter talked about Mark McCullers' comments on optimism in today's Dispatch and that kind of talk ringing hollow. Or sounding like a mere sales pitch. Then he lets loose with what you see on the left (more powerful in print).

I have to admit that this past Thursday when McCullers once again told the press and cameras that he believes the MLS Cup could come through Crew Stadium and this being a special year, it came across remarkably flat. Like, the automated voice you get when you try to pay your bills via telephone.

"Press one for OPTIMISM. Para Español, marque el numero dos."

Before the start of the year I predicted them to finish 6th in the East but now thinking 5th (or even 4th is easily possible) because they have a couple dangerous players, solid defense and are staying healthy. I guess that's not rainbows, unicorns and puffy blue clouds but it is good. As in; optimism based in reality with achievable goals.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Predictions: Crew (H) v. NYRB

Good Morning,

The Columbus Crew are playing Red Bulls tonight at Crew Stadium under a wounded but functional scoreboard. Early 4:00 PM EST kickoff (Reserve game to follow). Game is 'nationally televised' on NBC Sports network.

-Crew looking for 1st consecutive wins since Sept 1 last year (16 games). Only TFC longer (22 games).
-2nd consecutive home match out of 3 for the Crew.
-NY embarrassed CLB in this fixture last year, 4:1
-NY on mini hot streak, have won 3 out of last 4
-Columbus stopped a D,D,L slide without Arrieta, win 3:0 over DC last week
-NY beat same DC team in DC 2:0 4 weeks ago.

Starting with a doozy over at Win Draw Win. Their impressively accurate 'your vote' section (greater than 60% accurate with CLB games) has Crew almost as a sure fire win at 65% while NY chances are at a minuscule 7%. On top of that they are claiming large stake on 3:0 Crew. Something appears not quite right, but it is what it is I guess.

The group likes Crew again this week. Four out of six like them to take outright win. Diego Pinzon (Draw) and Jason Saghini (NY Win) dissenting. Matt Doyle, most accurate at 46% (rest of group 37-41%) has the Crew winning.

Over at, where there doesn't appear to be many vote, we see the fan's taking NY today with 61.5% of the vote. Draw least likely at 15.4%.

Columbus is odds on favorite at Bet365 this morning at 7/5. Draw 23/10 and NY win 19/10. Normal MLS odds on scorelines.

Lastly, Crew beat writer and 'area man' seems to be optimistic about this one. He also says that this could even tell the world that "the Crew is a serious contender" in the East if get a win here.

The long dry consecutive wins streak for the Crew is troubling.

Wouldn't be surprised if the Crew play, once again, not to lose. Outside of Robert Warzycha's normal propensity to play that way, this fixture last year rattled this Crew team after the 4:1 beating. Crew went on to lose three and draw two in their next five matches which absolutely set them way back on the year.

This year is a little different for the Crew as they have had more games as a group together. More pre-season and regular season matches to become a lot more consistent. In fact, this is probably the most consistent I've seen the Crew this year. Even with Viana out at left back, he is getting replaced with Tyson Wahl, who was playing that spot earlier this year.

Result? The biggest problem for this NY team sometimes seems to be level of interest but shouldn't be a problem here because it will be the NBC Sports national game.

If the Crew play more open and someone scores in the first, say, 25 mins this one could be a really fun one to watch. Maybe a 2:2 or 3:2 type game. If not? Look for this to turn into a counter attacking 'spring Henry' or 'spring free Arrieta and Oduro' type thing.

Tough one to call. One thing is for sure, look for Glauber to get his next yellow (suspending him for next match) pulling down Henry on the break.

How about this one has 4 goals in it, split even.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

When I'm Stuck

Long time ago in a place far, far away (Raleigh, NC) I messed around with moving pictures a lot. Like, a lot. Lot. Not so much these days because of the writing, work and artwork. And work. But. I still do put stuff together for fun when I can't get anything going with the writing. Here's one using music the same as Micheal Bay's Pain and Gain movie trailer.

It's basically a mash up of the last three years worth of Crew promo videos. The photography in them was pretty good.


[I wrote this as part of my weekly MLS Eastern Conf Round Up over at Massive Report. It was part of a longer post, but wanted to pull out this part on expansion. Links and all are over there.]

More news last week about upcoming expansion in MLS, this time it comes via New York Times. In the piece Jere Longman and Ken Belson update readers on the current state of New York City F.C. and the league’s plans to build in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. Things seem to be marching towards some sort of definitive league announcement around when Manchester City comes to NY to play Chelsea on May 25th. Reason being, Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan (member of the Abu Dhabi royal family) is the billionaire owner of Manchester City and the person willing to pay the $100 million MLS entrance fee.

Meanwhile, down in Orlando, Florida, there is also a group pushing to bring MLS action that way. Senate Bill 306 seems to be working it’s way through the Florida House of Representatives at this very moment. From what I understand, it paves the way for a stadium through tax revenues.

Orlando City SC has an honest to goodness team that actually exists and very dedicated group of supporters but looking for some help to get a place to play. NY has a rich royal (estimated family worth of half a trillion dollars) who has benefited the fact that he sits on a tenth of the world’s oil supply. Look up pictures of Abu Dhabi if you haven’t already (or go, if you have the means).

If you step back from this process you sort of realize that what is going on here, right now, paints a picture of the current sports landscape in the United States. It’s not a good picture. Why not let competition decide who is in North America’s top division? Why not let teams spend as much as the pull in through ticket sales, media deals and other revenue streams?

The way MLS is going about it right now only benefits MLS. What’s strange is that this top down corporate structure approach is fiercely disliked by over half the US populace yet accepted practice in US soccer. Organic, autonomous growth of the sport can work and can be profitable. It also benefits all levels of play from professionals to youth teams.

Were either Orlando City or NYCFC to join MLS they would be in the Eastern Conference.


I liked this picture of Stade Saputo but went with a crowd pic from inside in the MR post (they destroyed Toronto FC 6-0 that game). Photo was taken by Jean-Yves Ahern for USA Today Sports.