Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Precourt Sports Ventures Buys Crew, FTEs

Precourt Sports Ventures, LLC purchased 100% of the Columbus Crew today. Anthony Precourt is chairman and it appears that he will oversee the transition of the team into something "more relevant, more successful and cooler for everybody."

The hand off from the Clark Hunt and the Hunt Sports Group is abrupt. Mr. Precourt is fully at the helm of the club now and is reportedly in evaluation mode.

“We’re going to leave no stone unturned,” he said. “I can’t tell you yet. I love the name Columbus Crew. I love the colors. The badge, might take a look at the badge. We’ve got to see about that, though.”

The evaluation period is likely to last through next year but Crew fans should expect staff changes in the coming months, if not sooner. Chairman Precourt will want to get his thoughts, energy and ideas out into the club without hindrance as soon as possible.


It is very exciting for the Columbus MLS outlet - but I've been through a couple of things like this (it's how I wound up in Ohio) - so I'm aware of the folks in the Crew offices who are unsure of their futures. Met some of you and it's been nothing but good things ('cept for that one guy, yeah YOU). Change is tough and uncertainty breeds a great deal of fear. Hang in there y'all.

Crew Announcement [Updated]

Coming off a string of bad results (worst form in league right now) the Columbus Crew announced that they are announcing something about something at noon today. Announcements to follow.

The Columbus Crew is set to make a major announcement inside Crew Stadium’s Upper 90 Club on Tuesday, July 30 at 12:00 p.m. ET. Hunt Sports Group Chairman Clark Hunt will address the media, with Crew President & General Manager Mark McCullers available for comment after the announcement.

The event will be streamed live in HD right here on TheCrew.com.

Lots of rumors flying around about this one but safe to say that after a build up like they have generated it will likely not live up to expectation.

Unconfirmed reports, but here is the leading rumor right now was tweeted out by Crew defender Josh Williams.

On a more serious note; The press has been told that today's practice has been closed.

For a list of posibilities head over to the "Covering the Crew" blog on the Columbus Dispatch site.

The last one on Adam Jardy's list is probably it. In which case, if it is a new majority owner, I will update later today (time permitting) because that would indeed be big news.

[UPDATE 1, 10:00 AM] Columbus Mayor Coleman will be at the event, solidifying that this is a business move.

[UPDATE 2, 11:00 PM] Excellent comment from Tom Lillis IV at Massive Report explaining what he thinks it will be. I have been swayed. Development around the stadium is desperately needed. Also, has Lillis pointed out, would increase the value of the team enabling the Hunts to sell for a higher price.

[UPDATE 3, 1:00 PM] The Columbus Crew have been sold to Precourt Sports Ventures, LLC (PSV). They are an investment group based out of San Francisco. Here is the press release. Interesting changes for the team here in town. Of note: No price tag was given and Commissioner Don Garber was not in town for the announcement. More to come soon.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Crew Rd 21. Another 0 pts

Last night's embarrassing loss is not one Crew fans will soon forget.

This game started off as most Crew games have this year. Jumpy and sloppy with very little possession by either side. One could say that the away side had the better of it but it really depends on your definition of better.

Around the 17th minute there was a long ball from Matias Sanchez to Dominic Oduro that momentary broke up the dull play. Oduro gathered and ripped one near post from a difficult angle. Toronto GK Joe Bendik was completely taken off guard and it slipped in near post.

After that, play resumed. Jumpy. Sloppy.

Toronto is a bad team. Columbus is playing bad soccer. Both of these things were on full display to start the second half. Nobody in the Crew midfield seemed to want to be there.

As time went on in the second half Toronto got closer and closer till finally things broke down in the 87th when Jonathan Osorio left footed shot found goal with assist from Jeremy Brockie to tie it up.

Moments later, and somewhat fittingly, the heavens seemed to fall as rain became extremely heavy.

Toronto FC inevitably found another goal in extra time. Again, from the right side. This time Andrew Wiedeman left footed goal from a Bobby Convey cross.

The Crew haven't played good soccer for a long time. Some might argue it has been years since they have. Wins have come here and there but it never seems to be dominating nor pretty.

To a general fan of soccer there is no reason to watch a Crew match. For non-fans thinking objectively, they are boring negative affairs. The Fox Sports Ohio presentation only makes these things worse. It's almost like it is by design. Play ugly "zombie" (Bryan Gattozzi's excellent use of the word) soccer and have two misguided cheerleaders calling the game on TV putting off all but the most ardent of supporters.

Anyone who has watches a few games outside of the Crew each week will tell you; the team plays miserable looking soccer. They aren't getting results and it is painful to watch.

It's even difficult to to do a write up on what the hell happened - it's that poor.

How's this; the sub in the 79th minute that took Agustin Viana out and brought Chad Barson on shouldn't have happened. All I got.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Predictions: Crew (A) v Toronto

The Columbus Crew travel to BMO Field to take on Toronto FC today. Afternoon kickoff at 2:00 PM EST. 11:00 AM out west.

CLB: Columbus won at BMO earlier this year 1:0
CLB: Lineup changes, different from previous 2 games
CLB: Only 1 win last 6 on road (Loss last 3)
TFC: No wins at BMO in over a year.
TFC: 3 Draws last 6 at home (Draw last 2)
TFC: Koevermans, Earnshaw Questionable

In no particular order. For order of most accurate check HERE.

Somewhat surprisingly the panel at the league base site likes Toronto today. 4 of the 6 have them down in the WIN column and the other two? Draw.

The 'Your Votes' has Columbus with 45% of the vote and lists a Medium Stake on a 0:1 Away side win.

"Isn’t this a rivalry game? Sure why not." Drew Epperley stated last week the Crew season was effectively over. He likes this one to end on even terms, however. 1:1 at BMO.

4. BET365 ... TFC
Toronto at 29/20, Draw 21/10 and Crew 2/1. We are on the back half of the season now so we should start seeing bad home sides drifting away from even.

Kieth Hickey got the call today to do the one line summary, "With TFC struggling yet again this year, Columbus looks to seal yet another Trillium Cup victory." Few votes on the predictor but what is there has this one even.

Columbus beat writer Adam Jardy calls this one "a tricky challenge for the Crew." Jardy isn't shying away from approaching things honestly at this point in the season by saying the team's playoff hopes are 'flickering' and in the headline today, describing the team as 'sputtering'.



The last few teams to go to BMO Field have gone there 'not to lose'. Nobody wants to lose there as Toronto have been terrible. It sucks for TFC fans, really.

I think the Crew are looking for a Draw as well. Head Coach Robert Warzycha said as much yesterday in an interview ("...draw not worst result"). I think that comes from some fear of being THAT team that lost to TFC. The Crew can't worry about that though.

Columbus / Toronto games are often dull affairs. This one being in the early afternoon doesn't help things (those matinee games are often boring, no matter who is playing).

I wouldn't expect this one to be any different but there is always hope for the spectacular. Even when you have a third to last place team playing second to last.

Looks like great soccer weather up there today. Cool in the low 70s with a slight chance of ran. Perfect for the players. Enjoy the match.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Exploring The Wrong

Worked through Opta activity for Columbus Crew holding midfielders for Massive Report and found a mess of interesting things. I tried to keep it pretty focused over there and not get lost in trying to explain information. Pretty happy with the way it turned out.

Among the things that I wanted to get across was how often a player did something wrong. The reason I took the negative approach was because it seems like the only time we really hear about a player doing well is if they are A) New or B) They score.


Poking around the data I found that saying '79% of a players touches are positive' was misleading because I found myself thinking, 'well, that's fine. He's doing alright'. It really minimized the impact of a bad pass, turnover or bad shot.

All things that give possession away are why players train all those hours. "The Wrong" gives the opposition an extra chance.

Mistakes, no matter how small, should absolutely be tracked, measured and monitored. Especially for a team with a lot of young players


I looked at all the players for the Crew but only published the holding mids in the Massive Report post to keep it simple. Also, what applies as bad or wrong for one position doesn't necessary apply to another position.


25% Eric Gehrig
21% Josh Williams
19% Gláuber
19% Tyson Wahl
15% Chad Barson
15% Chad Marshall

It bothers me that Josh Williams is high up on this list, but his Turnover and Dispossession rates are high. Also, his passing is fairly average. Not sure if it is a case of trying to hard or being frustrated.

Josh is like my bellwether for everything. I've tossed out so many misguided metrics because his performances always have me going back and taking a second look.

That said, none of the Crew defenders seem to be in the 'wrong' that much. The Crew have an above average backline in MLS. These guys (including Gehrig) are good players.


41% Ethan Finlay
26% Ben Speas
24% Bernardo Anor
21% Eddie Gaven
21% Federico Higuaín

I peeled off bad shots for the midfielders. They should be ripping off shots. You can see the impact that the loss of Gaven probably plays with this year's team. The Crew would absolutely be better off if they had Eddie but I don't think it is the reason the Crew are this far down the table.


61% Ryan Finley
49% Aaron Schoenfeld
40% Justin Meram
34% Jairo Arrieta
33% Dominic Oduro

Not really surprising, here. What was surprising though was when I included errant shots... it completely flipped.

70.0% Jairo Arrieta
66.1% Dominic Oduro
60.8% Justin Meram
53.3% Aaron Schoenfeld
35.9% Ryan Finley (incorrect will have to update)

All of them jumped, of course, but Schoenfeld and Finley come out looking better. Most of that has to do with them only taking a few shots but I also think that both these players are more accurate than Arrieta and Oduro. Both of them can be magical when on target but also disastrous when off (which is probably why they find themselves with the Crew).


To sort of tie this all up... I like what I found in looking at things this way. I focused on the holding mids with the Crew at Massive Report because I felt that the position is the most important on the team this year.

Should be interesting to see how this plays out the rest of the year.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Crew Rd 20: Body Blow

Body blow. Gut punch. Liver shot. In boxing there can be punches to the gut so devastating that they short circuit everything in a fighter.

Columbus liked the look of the team that beat a 10 man Portland a couple weeks ago and stuck with it, only with the slight wrinkle that allowed a few players to exchange positions freely. Calling it "free flowing" would be a bit of a stretch but not entirely off the mark.

While not pretty, the philosophy saw Bernardo Anor, Konrad Warzycha, Federico Higuain and Dominic Oduro all over the field (oftentimes, in the same area).

It was a nice change of pace to see more activity in the Crew midfield but New England's strong defense (tied in league with best GA average) didn't have much problem with it.

Opta tracked 10 shots for the Crew in the first half. 7 of them were blocked and the other three were off target (Anor would eventually be the only player to place a ball on target all night).

More of the same from both sides to start the half. In some regards the game deteriorated towards the middle of the half, almost as if players were unsure of their respective coaches desires to go for the Win or to settle for the Draw.

When New England brought in Lee Nguyen with 30 minutes left then Diego Fagundez for the remaining 20 minutes that changed. The Revs were hunting a win while Robert Warzycha wasn't making it clear to his players what he wanted.

And a win the Revs got with two goals in extra time. Nguyen assisting on both.

Crew looked like a team test driving a new formation/philosophy with a new group of players. It is difficult to get down on this type of change, considering table position at this point in the season. You have to change. The other philosophy was not working.

That leaves the Crew in a tough spot, though. Are they still pushing for the playoffs or implementing something new for the long term? There are signs that point to both but also signs that there is just more indecision. Throwing things against the wall to see what sticks.

On performance side, Ben Speas (in sub role) played probably his best game yet. A lot of his technical abilities were on display as well as incredible effort. In one sequence he flung himself over the ad boards, another time slamming into them on the sideline.

So, what's this get him from the coaching staff?

"Perfect chance when [Dominic] Oduro passes the ball along the goal-line, if Ben [Speas] was in front of the defender like he was supposed to be, then he probably scores a goal. So that's what we need from the guys: read it, feel it, and then be in the places they are supposed to be." - Robert Warzycha, postgame.

I get what he is trying to say but this highlights exactly why so many players speak out in frustration with this team (Cole Grossman, Will Hesmer, Rich Balchan, Aaron Horton, Dilly Duka, the preseason Grant Wahl player survey... to name a few).

Oduro didn't have a particularly good game. Nobody did (including his the Head Coach's son, who was probably the weakest link last night). Seeking out a young player (on a team of young players) as a target for frustration like that is petty, childish and inexcusable.

This team has taking a lot of punches to their core all year. Poor results, questionable management decisions early on, injuries, handing out white flags to fans with a stolen slogan modified to fit a beer sponsors name...

Of course the season marches on but last night's result was a short circuiting liver shot to the season.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Predictions: Crew (H) v Revs

The New England Revs are in Columbus today to take on the Crew. Kickoff is at 7:30 PM Eastern. Weather: Hot, in the high 80s and storms in the area.

-CLB: Looking to jump Revs in standings (7th to 6th)
-CLB: Possible Viana might rejoin starting lineup
-CLB: 2 of 3 to start? Trapp, Warzycha, Sanchez
-NER: Loss on Wed (2:1) after being up 1 to Rapids
-NER: Have had good results vs. common opponents
-NER: 10 Shutouts in 19 games

(In no particular order this week, for most accurate outlets; see last prediction post)

Zac Lee Rigg is on the job today, his one line summary leans away from the Revs; "After a midweek loss to the Rapids in Colorado, the Revs travel to Columbus, where they haven't won since 2009." Looks like five people have votes in the Readers Predictions portion. Draw / Revs are favored there.

Mixed results this week from the 'pick 'em' team. Matt Doyle is still the front runner there (as he has been all season). He likes the Crew, same as two others. One pick Draw, two for Revs. Signals evenly matched affair.

Drew Epperley doesn't think to highly of this match, from an entertainment perspective, "This one seems like a low-scoring snooze fest". Does have Crew pulling it out 1:0 in the end, however.

Interesting call out; 6 games since a Crew draw, but it isn't that unusual for Robert Warzycha coached Crew over the past 2 years (two such streaks last year). Large Stake is on a 1:1 draw, the 'your votes' section likes that as well: 43% Draw, 28s for both teams.

5. BET365.COM-> CREW
Good reason for the heavy play on a draw for this one as Crew get FAV (evens) and draw is at 12/5 (Revs 11/4).

Mentions that Crew have altered offensive tactics but are about to "face arguably its toughest challenge of the season against a stingy New England".



Teams coming off two week breaks in the middle of summer have been looking sluggish. Verses the Crew we've seen it with Montreal a few weeks ago and Portland two weeks ago.

The Crew were busy over the past two weeks with a couple reserve games and a friendly with Wigan Athletic but their main main was not with the team for any of it, Federico Higuain.

From the looks of things, the general consensus is that this will be a close game with slight advantage to the home side. I want to lean sort of the way Epperley does in that this has potential to be a low wattage affair but I hesitate to say that. Why?

The Columbus Crew are toying around in a new formation with the senior team, a 4-3-3. Fans had probably seen it on reserve games for about a year and a half but it's made it's way up. I think, with this change comes risk.

Dominic Oduro said some unintentionally scary things in the Columbus Dispatch today about this formation; "The whole idea is any time someone is out of place you take their position." GAH!

That is scary because the Crew don't have the proper players to play that, I mean... it sounds like Total Football but with a bottom half MLS team.

What this does is open this game up to perhaps look like what happened when the Colorado Rapids visited earlier this year. The Crew were all over the place, taking shots, high pressure. Rapids got two good looks and that's all it took.

Should be a good one. Possible summer storms, Crew fans...

Keep an eye on the skies, travelers.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Oduro a Midseason Massive Report

Spent time looking at Dominic Oduro for Massive Report. I tried to stay away from any giant conclusions but did want to get across (using numbers) a few things that I found: the Columbus Crew made him the focal point. He's performing right around his career averages. The team is in 14th place.

Oduro is a unique player. It's not often you have an attacking player with so much time with so many teams in MLS. Teams adjust to his playing style and treat him in ways similar to a player making two, three times as much. Go give it a read if you have time.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

NWSL: National TV, Player Ratings, Notes

The National Women's Soccer League made their debut on Fox Soccer this past Sunday and I took in the game. It was the Seattle Reign vs. my hometown Washington Spirit (at Starfire, near Seattle) and it was fun to watch.

Shortly after the match I headed over to the NWSL website to check out standings and stats. To my surprise, the league is doing a great job of tracking both. This was not the case with the WPS a couple years ago, though it was enough for me to determine that Ella Masar was the best player (Masar went on to be one of the central figures in the story arch of that league).

To be brutally honest, up to this past week, I had not spent a whole lot of time with the NWSL as my schedule is filled with Major League Soccer (Columbus Crew) but, I've got the next few days off work and a little bit of time on my hands.

With that, and a good deal of stats to work through, I decided to plug the numbers into my MLS player rating model. Just as I did a couple years ago with the WPS

Here are some of the top players in the league:

Player Score : Player Name TEAM
100 Danesha Adams SKY
99 Courtney Goodson SKY
97 Alex Morgan PDX
97 Abby Wambach WNY
96 Allie Long PDX
95 Kendall Johnson SKY
93 Manya Makoski SKY
93 Kathryn Williamson PDX
93 Christine Sinclair PDX
92 Katy Freels SKY

You may recognize a couple of those names. For league standings and news, head on over to the official NWSL site. If you want a place for all player stats and my player ranking go HERE.

Monday, July 15, 2013

MLS All Star Roster, No Crew (again)

The 2013 Major League Soccer All Star Gameday roster was announced today and it did not include any Columbus Crew players. The Crew are the only MLS team in the past three years not to have an All-Star selection.

From what I gather, today's announcement is the 'gameday' roster and that there will be more selected later on this month. I looked around a bit on the MLSsoccer.com and couldn't find where or when the next group of 'snubs' (expect the articles, zzzz) will be chosen. Were I to have the energy, I would track down excactly when and how MLS selects the rest, but... really MLS?

The actual All Star game that pits MLS's best against a preseason Roma is scheduled for the last day in July.

There are a lot of reasons to bang on the all star game but one thing it does is call attention to some of the better young players in the league. Looking up and down the selections since 2010 I see a load of guys that have gotten calls from better leagues.

Hoping Crew players like Josh Williams and Federico Higuain get a look when the league fills out the rest of the roster.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Houston Win, Crew 6 Pts Out

Only one time in the past three years has a Major League Soccer playoff team come from out of a playoff spot 50% through the season. It was the Houston Dynamo in 2011 (they were two points out at the time).

With that in mind, it is worth noting; Two goals from the Houston Dynamo's Adam Moffat last night not only helped to put New England away but also dropped the Crew to 6 points out of the 5th and final playoff spot (on even games).

The Columbus Crew are looking down a long row to hoe at the moment. Just to get back in to the playoff race, it is critically important that the Crew get all 9 points from the next three games (two of which include two Eastern Conf teams right above them).

This clock is ticking on this 2013 Crew season.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Massive Report Ohio Crew

I wrote a lot about Crew rosters since 2011 over at Massive Report. For a while now I've been tracking starting lineups, subs, plus/minus and the like but a couple weeks ago decided to match individual player salaries up with that data. What came out was interesting.

It was also a little overwhelming. Once it was matched up I spent a few days sorting it in every way I could think of. I felt that I was able to come to a number of reasonably thought out conclusions (though there is always more). I'll keep tracking it to and messing around with it. Fun stuff.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Updated Player GD, PPG (KRAMB)

Updating team performance when a particular Crew player is starting and goal activity when on the pitch. KRAMB* adds up team Points Earned per Start with Goal Difference (GD) when that player is on the pitch.

Minimum of 5 starts. Players with less will be listed at bottom of post.

1.90 : Eddie Gaven (10)
1.75 : Agustín Viana (8)
1.65 : Danny O´Rourke (14)
1.47 : Joshua Williams (17)
1.37 : Dominic Oduro (19)
1.33 : Chad Marshall (15)
1.23 : Gláuber Berti (13)

1.21 : TEAM (19)

1.20 : Bernardo Anor (5)
1.10 : Federico Higuaín (19)
1.05 : Andy Gruenebaum (18)
0.89 : Ben Speas (9)
0.87 : Tyson Wahl (16)
0.85 : Tony Tchani (7)
0.75 : Matías Sánchez (8)
0.67 : Jairo Obando Arrieta (9)
0.57 : Chad Barson (7)


• Top two players are hurt (Gaven out for year, Viana back soon).

• You can see how one +3 PPG and +1 GD missing for Gruenebaum's number puts him (Matt Lampson started last match).

• Anor jumps on the list for the first time this year crossing the 5 game mark at about team average. In years past Anor has had superior results with this measurement.

• The Crew have not had great results in last 7 matches, these also happen to be when Barson is starting. I don't consider him a step up in quality from Wahl but do like he is getting time.

Next up is Goal Difference when player starts. This does not include when a player is subbed on (that is something I'll look at some other time).

+0.40 : Eddie Gaven
+0.36 : Danny O´Rourke
+0.25 : Agustín Viana
+0.18 : Joshua Williams
+0.16 : Dominic Oduro
+0.13 : Chad Marshall

0.00 : Gláuber Berti
0.00 : TEAM
0.00 : Bernardo Anor

-0.06 : Andy Gruenebaum
-0.11 : Federico Higuaín
-0.11 : Ben Speas
-0.19 : Tyson Wahl
-0.22 : Jairo Obando Arrieta
-0.25 : Matías Sánchez
-0.29 : Tony Tchani
-0.43 : Chad Barson

Here is Points Earned per Start.

Pts per Start : NAME
1.50 : Eddie Gaven
1.50 : Agustín Viana
1.29 : Danny O´Rourke
1.29 : Joshua Williams
1.23 : Gláuber Berti

1.21 : Dominic Oduro
1.21 : TEAM
1.21 : Federico Higuaín

1.20 : Chad Marshall
1.20 : Bernardo Anor
1.14 : Tony Tchani
1.11 : Andy Gruenebaum
1.06 : Tyson Wahl
1.00 : Ben Speas
1.00 : Matías Sánchez
1.00 : Chad Barson
0.89 : Jairo Obando Arrieta

Players with not enough starts.

4.00 : Wil Trapp (1)
4.00 : Matt Lampson (1)
4.00 : Konrad Warzycha (1)
4.00 : Aaron Schoenfeld (1)
0.75 : Justin Meram (4)
0.75 : Eric Gehrig (4)
-0.34 : Kevan George (3)

Takeaways from players with few starts:

• George is only player with out a win on the team (2 Loss, 1 Draw) and he has an average goal difference of -0.67 when starting.

• Gehrig and Meram have identical numbers. 1 Win, 2 Draws, 1 Loss and a goal difference of -0.50

*I call this score KRAMB for Ryan Kramb (PhD, MS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign BS University of Dayton) who was curious about 'on pitch' data. I now regularly track it and use it in player evaluation.

Please note, this is only one way to measure a player's contributions.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Crew Rd 19, Win Over Broken Timbers

The Columbus Crew beat a shorthanded Portland Timbers 1:0 off and early headed goal from Bernardo Anor, his second in as many games.

The game started with a giant wall of activity. The Crew came out in their normal high energy way looking for an early goal. This time was a little different, however. Here is the Crew lineup:

Matt Lampson
Josh Williams, Chad Marshall, Danny O'Rourke, Chad Barson
Konrad Warzycha, Will Trapp
Dominic Oduro, Federico Higuaín, Bernardo Anor
Aaron Schoenfeld

This amounts to a feel-good lineup with lots of young local stars and they were up to the task early. Mixing it up and earning an early corner. Federico Higuain, for the 2nd week in a row, linked up with an unmarked Bernardo Anor for a headed goal. This put the Crew up 1:0 in the 7th minute.

Short time later Portland defender Pa-Modou Kah received his first yellow for a bad foul. Right after that, another card for a high kick to the face of Aaron Schoenfeld in the box. It was a nightmare start for Kah who was sent off.

Higuian would step up to take the penalty but he missed wide. Shortly after Timbers head coach Caleb Porter subbed in an extra defender in Mamadou Danso ("Futty") to hold off the Crew attack on his ten men side.

The Futty sub calmed the Timbers and settled the game. In fact, Portland controlled much of the match from there.

The 2nd half resembled the 1st in a lot of ways. Good amount of possession from Portland (who out possessed the Crew 56 to 44% down a man for 80 minutes) forced the Crew into an odd roll of working counters, breaks and through balls as if they were a man down.

The half wore on and a strong back line and with an impressive looking Trapp were enough to hold off the Timbers.

• Columbus ends an uncharacteristic three game losing streak.

• Portland was missing three of their best players and did well holding off the Crew a man down for virtually the whole match.

• Crew coach Robert Warzycha had an unusual quote after the match "I don't think I was disappointed... usually difficult to play a man up."

• Good first outing for 'Young' Wil Trapp.

• Columbus needs another option in attack other than just springing Dominic Oduro if they want more goals.

• Tough to pull too much from this game because of the early red card. Crew might have done better against a 10 man team, but I'm sure they will be satisfied with 3 pts.

• It was enjoyable to see Porter work in under these circumstances. His players held it together and were successful in playing decent possession, but the finishing skill was missing. Felt Michael Harrington (coming off injury) and Ben Zemanski didn't have their best games.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Predictions: Crew (H) v. Timbers

Caleb Porter's Portland Timbers are in town today to take on the Columbus Crew. Game start is 5:00 PM EST and 2:00 PM Oregon time (but what is time, really).

-CLB: Played last Thursday in LA
-CLB: Have lost 3 straight
-CLB: Should have big home crowd today
-PDX: 15 match unbeaten run
-PDX: Only 2 wins on Road (7 Draws)
-PDX: W.Johnson, Piquionne, Wallace on Int'l Duty
-PDX: Caleb Porter

We are halfway through the year now so I tabulated all picks year to date on Crew matches. List will be descending (most - least accurate)

Just picking the team higher up on the table is a good place to start now that half the year is over. Portland are much higher up on the table.

The 'your vote' sections here likes Portland 48% of the vote (Columbus at 22%) with a Large stake on a 0:1 Away win.

Had to break out the calculator on this one. Portland (fav) 8/5, Crew 17/10 and Draw at 9/4. This marks the first time all season the Crew have not been favored at home.

This one is more loose. Not a lot of fan participation on the 'reader prediction' and only a one sentence summary to go on. That said, just a accurate as MLSsoccer.com's pick 'em team. Keith Hickey gives us his thoughts today; "The Crew can move into a playoff spot with some luck, but they'll need a lot of it when Porterball comes to town."

Just picking the home team gets you 5th on this list.

Drew Epperley thinks the Timbers have this one today. However, I think he thinks the Crew are on the road, "Tired legs of the Crew going against a rested Portland team on the road." He's picking Portland 2:0 Crew.

Taking the picks collectively at MLSsoccer.com is a bad way to go. You're better off going with one person there, or just none at all. That said, they didn't make weekend predictions this time. Bankers hours?

I don't officially track local newspaper Crew team beat writer Adam Jardy's leaning but I do record it. This week he feels that Portland is the better side and that Columbus needs three points to keep their '...flickering hopes of reaching the postseason,' alive. Pick up the Columbus Newspaper anywhere in town.

MLS Fans: I am your Leader
You've really got to go back a ways to find a four straight loss Crew team. 2009 in fact (right at the end of the year) and this year's Crew team is about as far away from that team as you can get.

While we are looking at trends, the Crew generally play well through the summer months so this run is unusual. Does it mean they will pull out a win today? Not looking that way. However.

Portland is missing three key guys today. Will Johnson, Rodney Wallace and Frederic Piquionne which works out to be 11 of 27 team goals and 12 of 33 assists (btw, secondary assists!).

Piquionne has been more of a recent phenomenon for the Timbers but the absence of Johnson and Wallace will weaken them. Porter plays a solid soccerballing game though. Their subs will be able to fill in well.

Diego Valeri is with the team and will be pulling the strings here today and you still have Donovan Ricketts in goal.

Portland are just difficult to beat this year. I will be in attendance for this one because I like what Caleb Porter is doing in (to?) MLS with the Timbers.

I will gladly pay to see good soccer teams (or at least ones playing the game of soccer).

Friday, July 5, 2013

Crew Rd 18: Late Game Mess, Loss

The Columbus Crew fall to the LA Galaxy 2:1 because of two late called fouls in the box.

LA might have been a little surprised at how easily the gained possession and worked the ball just inside the Crew's half of the field. Matias Sanchez and Kevan George seemed a lost for large sections of the game and gave the Galaxy little trouble.

As the half worn on it started to resemble the Crew's previous game with Sporting KC. Columbus couldn't get anything and LA seemed to have open chance after open chance.

The first half wound up with LA seeing 13 shots vs. 1 for the Crew (vs. KC the week prior it was 12-3).

More of the same to start. The Crew seemed to be a bit more aggressive but it was LA still driving the car.

Things changed in the 78th minute. Bernardo Anor received a free kick from Higuain and headed in a blooping header from about 15 yards, Crew +1.

The Galaxy seemed to ramp up a little but it was much more desperate than their easy going dominance in the 1st half. Columbus stiffened and it seemed like it might work until Jose Villarreal got nipped in the box and went down. Robbie Keane finished the penalty to even it up.

Not long after, in stoppage time, Keane went down easy when Anor leaned on him with his arm. It was a questionable call. Keane again stepped up to finish off the penalty and there it ended.

These types of games happen too often in MLS. Messy and a lot of that has to do with the way the Crew played in the first half. It was just about as poor as I have ever seen them.

I don't have a lot to say about this one. In some ways it was a throwback type MLS game in that you had one team that couldn't finish against another who doesn't know what possession is, decided on two penalty kicks after the 85th minute in front of a capacity crowd just there to see the postgame fireworks.

A tough watch. On to Portland this Sunday in what will hopefully be a better game.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

MLS GK Pass Distribution

Took a good look at goalie passing distribution over at Massive Report. The post idea was spurred on by Alex O of Tempo-Free Soccer. Give him a follow.

My results confirmed what many think: playing possession from the back is smarter than just booting it up the field. Seems like common sense but a lot of MLS teams still don't get it. There is a strong relationship between playing it short and winning.

Here is bonus data I didn't link to over at Massive Report, HERE and the image in this post wasn't used because I felt it was a sad looking Gruenebaum and there was no reason for it. Like the image though, so it goes up here.

Predictions: Crew (A) v Galaxy

The Columbus Crew disrupt their circadian rhythms tonight due to a 10:30 PM EST matchup against the LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center. 7:30 PM PST.

-CLB: Only 5 pts in last 6 games
-CLB: Traveled direct to LA after KC game last Sat.
-CLB: Higuain being investigated, passport falsification
-CLB: Arrieta out, Gold Cup
-LAG: 7 pts in last 6 games
-LAG: Robbie Rogers to face old team
-LAG: Landon Donovan out, Gold Cup
-LAG: Only conceded 2 goals at home (6 games)

"I really don’t know what to make of the Crew these days." Drew Epperley, writer for SB Nations Big D soccer and WV Hooligan. His prediction for tonight? LA Galaxy 3, Columbus 1.

Bet365 likes the Home Team this week giving them 1/2 (Draw 16/5, Crew 11/2). In other words, The Galaxy are heavily favored.

Win Draw Win places Home/Away form at the top of their summary each game. It's for good reason, it matters. In six home games this year LA have scored 12 and only conceded 2. Because of this we get a Medium Stake on a Home win, 2:0 and a 'your vote' in favor of LA, 55% and Columbus 14%.

The team over MLSsoccer.com has Galaxy across the board this week.

Adam Jardy, Crew beat writer for the Columbus Dispatch, doesn't show a lean either way in today's paper. He does state that a loss here would set up an "unpleasant scene at Crew Stadium" this Sunday.

Over at Goal.com Zac Lee Rigg writes; "Los Angeles will look to preserve a four-game home unbeaten streak against the Crew come July 4." The fan voting there is getting some activity going 90% LA Galaxy 5.5% Crew. Steep.

Chipped Beef & Scotch
The Crew are in the middle of the toughest part of their schedule and are struggling. A win tonight is not likely but, of course, not impossible.

Despite what NFL fans like to project onto soccer, location matters. Form matters. And also, for the sake of Pete - Stop saying each game can turn around the season. A Crew win here or an LA win doesn't do that. It's a long season. I feel like the pitcher in the Barbsol commercial needs to set people straight here.

I'm normally not a fan of this, but a draw here for Columbus should be what the Crew fight for. Zero, zero? Okay, good enough right now. Adam Jardy is correct in his statement about the Sunday game if the Crew lose tonight. It would mark the third loss in a row and push the team back to 3 points in last five.

Columbus hasn't lost three in a row since mid-September of 2011 and only three times since the start of 2008.

Late game start for Crew fans but sometimes the best moments happen in games like this one. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Frankie Hejduk Singing, Meeting, Pictures

One of the highlights of my week is joining in the conversation over at Massive Report's podcast. This past Monday Frankie Hejduk joined in. He took my spot and my headphones for close to an hour.

Hejduk is as close to a modern, living legend as US players get. Folks here in Columbus, Ohio may take him for granted but they shouldn't. I basically grew up with him and remember him vividly from my early morning perch in an Irish pub in Raleigh, NC during the 2002 World Cup.

He is was a special player and is a special human being. You can hear what he had to say on Monday's Massive Report podcast HERE.