Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Crew Player Rankings

One of the things I like to keep up with throughout the season is MLS player rankings (and ratings). I started tracking with my own model three years ago because there wasn't really anything out there for MLS players. It was more for me and only used as a tool to help me look at a players performance objectively.

Now, three years later, we have both a WhoScored.com and Castrol rating to play around with as well. All year long you can see these updated rankings on the right hand column of this site (you have to view the desktop version of the site).

What I've done today is take the three player rankings for Columbus Crew players and put them into one table. On the far left is the median rank (middle number) of all of them. I figured with only three the middle number was fine.

Federico Higuaín
Wil Trapp
Michael Parkhurst
Steve Clark
Giancarlo Gonzalez
Waylon Francis
Tony Tchani
Josh Williams
Bernardo Anor
Jairo Arrieta
Héctor Jiménez
Justin Meram
Dominic Oduro
Ethan Finlay
Chad Barson
Tyson Wahl
Adam Bedell

You can sort of figure out what the colors mean. The darker blue represents players how fall in the top quarter of all players that have seen minutes this season, so far. Light blue represents players in the top half and gray is all in the bottom half.

My first observation was that 11 of the 17 players here fall above average, which is good for the Crew. Their place on the overall table reflects that. It's something I haven't seen in year's past. Thing are changing, however. Players are slipping down the list and it won't be long until we see some of the regular starters dropping below the league median.

If you look closely you'll see a couple rankings that stick out. I have Jimenez much higher than the other two (I value players who earn minutes on good teams), Trapp's Castrol is way out there (they tend to reward goal scorers / on the ball activity disproportionately), WhoScored isn't a big fan of Steve Clark, and so on. 

Overall, it gives me a great idea of where things are with the team. Which is to say that they are above average at the moment.

One of the things I'm learning after a few years of monitoring this is teams are only as good as their weakest link (meaning DPs are great but not most important). Later this week hoping to take a look at more teams. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Crew 1, NY 1 - Recap

M. Parkhurst and T. Henry, April 26, 2014. Source Photo: Rick Osentoski, USA Today Sports
Columbus and NY play to an early season draw on a cool evening at Crew Stadium.

1ST HALF (1-0)
NY had a great midweek game against Houston and looked to carry it over to this one in Columbus. They had 3-4 excellent chances, which was great for them, only problem was that Eric Alexander was the one taking them. He bungled a couple within the first 10 minutes that he should have finished.

Eventually, the Crew and Berhalter's possession process took hold of the match and things settled into a low speed kind-of affair. Chances were had but nothing got through either keeper.

Around the 40th minute Hector Jimenez ripped in a great cross from the right hand side that found Justin Meram right in front of goal. Meram was pulled down (I guess?) as his shot clanged off the top crossbar. A penalty was called. Jairo Arrieta stepped up and finished it.

2ND HALF (0-1)
Not a whole lot of change from the first half. Pace of the match was methodical (slow). It was pretty clear that NY wanted one but they didn't over do it (as they tend to do sometimes). This was their third game in 11 days so maybe it should have been expected.

In the 66th minute their efforts paid off and the goal came from a nice Lloyd Sam cross into Bradley Wright-Phillips (who's been in form). From there the Crew tried to stay on the ball as much as possible and pass NY into submission. It sorta worked and the game ended.

Just like the last few Crew home games this one lacked energy. Their appeared to be a large crowd on hand for the numerous discounted tickets and vending specials but that didn't really translate down to the play (for either side). Good tackles, pinpoint crosses, smart on the ball play got no noticeable cheers from the crowd. The only real energy from the crowd I really picked up on was open space runs of Dominic Oduro (who seems increasingly concerned with his hairdos week to week).

Opponents of the Crew are packing the middle and forcing the ball out to overlapping fullbacks (Josh Williams and Waylon Francis). While this plays into what the team wants to do, you also get two guys completely gassed by halftime. On top of tired legs there, you also have the simple fact that there isn't anyone to cross it in to.

Justin Meram was a serviceable replacement for suspended Bernardo Anor but, again, Meram isn't much of a midfielder (which has been covered at length on this site already).

Ultimately, a draw against NY is fine for the Crew but they do have to start getting three points in home matches. They are four games on now and only five points with a negative one goal difference. That puts them way towards the bottom.

The Crew were clearly a very prepared team going into the season. Catching a DC team that were still working on chemistry and a Philly team that is turning out to be, well... a Hackworth coached Philly team.

By just removing the 3-0 win in DC, Columbus drops firmly into mid-table if you only look at the last 6 matches. Combine that with below average home form and there is reason for some concern.

Overall however, the new coaching staff seems to be satisfied with the point total thus far as well as the direction things are going.

Next up for Columbus is Sporting KC away on Sunday, May 4th. A good performance down there will put some of my concerns back off to the side.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Crew Rd 7, Home vs NY Red Bulls

The New York Red Bulls are in town this evening to take on the Columbus Crew. Weather is going to be on the cool side over off Hudson Street today so another week you've got to bundle up! Kickoff scheduled for 7:30 PM EST.

CLB: Have saved 3 pts (of 11 total) with goals after 90 mins
CLB: Anor out (RC), Meram likely to start
CLB: Hot start is getting further away
NYR: Beat up on Dynamo midweek 4-0
NYR: Henry might not be making trip
NYR: Cahill could return to lineup

Percent on left is accuracy in predicting result of Columbus Crew games only.

Got our first split of the year from this outlet. Wiseguys like a 2-2 Draw but the "Your Vote" section has NY edging out the Crew (37% to 28%, draw at 34%).

Adam Jardy looks at recent results and thinks this one will come out even. Lots of NHL stuff in the paper today, so if that's your thing, head out and pick up a paper!

No name listed on the match preview today but whoever it is comes out strong for NY. "Another strong showing would likely be enough to pick up points against a Columbus team that has struggled of late."

Graham Ruthven back on the scene today to tell us NY "should pick up three points at Columbus, but we've been saying that all season." Ultimately, going with a 1-1 draw.

Crew are favored again here today but the bettors out there seem to be getting off the Columbus train. 23/20 Crew, 12/5 Draw, 23/10 NY.

Columbus' home record not something to be desired.

Team over at MLS HQ still all in with the Crew. Five of the six actually going with the home side today. Only one thinking somethings up in Matt Doyle, who picks Draw.

Crew have the edge on NY still. That could actually change today.

"Look for this one to be physical as well, but ultimately ending in a draw," says site scribe Drew Epperley.

n/a% MASSIVE REPORT ... no pick
Head on over to Pat Murphy's preview to found out which NY player Michael Parkhurst likes.

Best player in MLS history
Much more important match for the Crew than it is for the Red Bulls today. A loss for the home side would mean 4 pts in 4 at Crew Stadium to start the year - bad form at home dooms MLS teams to bottom half.

A lot of people picking a draw today and I'm thinking that comes from the feeling we have one team on the rise and another slumping. Humans don't like to change their perceptions of things until they are forced too. Most out there still see the Crew as probably something they are not and on the other side see NY as a team that they are hesitant to call a winner even though they are in form and have, quite possibly, the best MLS player in history playing for them.

If Thierry Henry plays tonight it might be a long one for the Crew. Tim Cahill doesn't really impact the match as much but having both of them out doesn't make things any easier. On Wednesday NY looked scary good and they usually play well in Columbus.

If Berhalter starts Dominic Oduro or Justin Meram in the midfield for suspended Bernardo Anor we will probably see a fast paced open match, which is one that sort of favors NY.

We see. Stay warm out there Crew fans that aren't watching the Blue Jackets and aren't there just for the dollar night specials, and not there for the college discounted tickets, and not there just to get drunk in the supporters' section...

- wait, how many does that leave actually watching the game?

Friday, April 25, 2014

2014 US Open Cup Schedule

The 101st US Open Cup Schedule was released last week and boy are there lots of teams this year. Since the tournament changes from year to year it's tough to keep track of the format, so below I'll do my best to simplify it.

 ROUND 1 (May 7): 
WHO: 16 Amateur clubs (8 games)
WHAT'S GOING ON: These are teams from five different amateur leagues that worked on 2014 USOC qualifying last year (most of them).
WHO TO WATCH: All of them! Well, if you can.

 ROUND 2 (May 14): 
WHO: 8 First Round winners + 26 remaining amateur clubs + 14 USL Pro clubs (24 games)
WHAT'S GOING ON: More teams in the five amateur leagues that qualified last year plus the addition off all 14 USL Pro teams based in the United States. USL Pro is considered to be the third tier in North American soccer, so they are the first pro league to jump into the fray.
WHO TO WATCH: FC Schwaben AC v Dayton Dutch Lions. Game will be In Buffalo Grove, Illinois. Schwaben have an incredible US Open Cup history, read more about them.

 ROUND 3 (May 28): 
WHO: 24 Second Round winners + 8 NASL clubs (16 games)
WHAT'S GOING ON: The scrum of the first two rounds clears a bit and adds the eight NASL clubs in the US. Important to note that USOC organizers are trying to keep games regional when they can. Home and Away determined by blind draw.
WHO TO WATCH: Indy Eleven enter this round. Plenty of potential opponents based on draw... Rochester Rhinos, Reading United, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Harrisburg City Islanders to name a few.

 ROUND 4 (June 10-18): 
WHO: 16 Third Round winners + 16 MLS clubs (16 games)
WHAT'S GOING ON: Well, it's on here in this round. Every team taking part in the first three rounds wants a shot at an MLS team in this great tournament. MLS teams have never really dominated against lesser talent over the years. Some of the best games are in this round. Not only because you have the MLS guys but also because the team from each division that advances furthest gets $15k.
WHO TO WATCH: This is where the Columbus Crew jump in. I would expect Dayton or Indy Eleven to be the favorites to get matched up.

 ROUND OF 16 (June 24-25): 
WHO: 16 Fourth Round winners (8 games)
WHAT'S GOING ON: We are finally to a bracket style competition, similar to "March Madness."

WHO: 8 Fifth Round winners (4 games)
WHAT'S GOING ON: Here's when your really pulling any amateur club still going, by this point they would be five games in. In years past I would be pulling for USL Pro guys but they have since linked up with MLS as a "minor league" type thing. It sucks. I know NASL clubs will push for this round, I will be pulling for them as well. Last year the Carolina Railhawks made it here but they didn't field a full strength side in favor of regular season play.

 SEMIFINALS (Aug. 12-13): 
WHO: 4 Quarterfinal winners (2 games)
WHAT'S GOING ON: Winner in each of the two here is guaranteed at least $60k.

 THE FINAL (Sep. 30-Oct. 1): 
WHO: 2 Semifinals winners (1 game)
WHAT'S GOING ON: While the winner gets $250k (loser $60k), the real prize of this tournament is a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League. For any club outside of MLS teams, it's the only way. The NY Cosmos have stated this as a goal for the club.

For updated fixtures and results, head over HERE.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Handbags in the Goalmouth and Trapp, Jimenez Save Point for Crew

The Columbus Crew were able to avoid defeat with a goal in added time off good individual play from Wil Trapp and Hector Jimenez.

1ST HALF (0-1)
As things got going the general feel of this one played out as expected before kickoff; Columbus holding most of the possession and DC being opportunistic. However, if you dig a little deeper and look at territorial possession you'll see that it was DC dictating the play while the Crew struggled to unlock the DC defense.

What the chart on the left shows is how much each team was spending in each other's half. The Crew have dominated regular possession, passing and passing accuracy (which is where possession % is calculated) statistics all year but there is a good percentage of that done in their own half, working back into buildup play.

The Crew were not pressing as hard this game and DC found space enough to work the ball around in attack. Eventually it burned them about 30 minutes in (marked with an "X" on the chart).

You can see from the chart that DC, almost immediately, took the pedal off the gas and looked to keep Columbus in front of them.

2ND HALF (1-0)
The Crew didn't exactly roar back but things did start to get testy on the pitch. There was a questionable call on Giancarlo Gonzalez that should have probably been a Red but he got yellow after he was beat by Eddie Johnson going to goal. After which there was a scrum in the penalty area that involved a number of players from both teams, nothing seemed too serious.

Not long after Bernardo Anor was sent off for a two footed sliding tackle.

Overall, it was actually a pretty drab half outside of that and both sets of players seemed to tire quickly as it continued on. The difference ended up being the little bit of extra fitness Wil Trapp had in dispossessing a gassed Espindola at the top of his own box, advancing to midfield unchallenged and firing off a perfect 40 yard pass to Hector Jimenez for a goal in the final moments.

PHOTO: Sam Fahmi, Massive Report
The Crew haven't looked the same with Dominic Oduro up top in this Berhalter system. It's now 1 win, 2 drawn and a loss (5 points from 4 games). On top of that, Oduro continues to be the only starter with a negative on pitch goal difference (it's now up to 2 GF, 4 GA). It's nothing that Dominic is doing wrong. The system just doesn't play to his strengths.

This match was not one to remember for either team really. The ref certainly doesn't escape blame for that. His indecisiveness after the Gonzales tackle of Johnson was to blame for the handbags in the goalmouth. He should have given the red or the yellow and got the game going again.

On that, not sure what has gotten into MLS play this year. Obscene amount of red cards issued, as well as penalties. There has been a definite change in policy this year in refereeing approach and it needs to get better. How? Going to be difficult as the precedent has been set.

There is a lingering question for the Crew now; Is the change in attacking approach the Crew reverting back to bad habits from last year or have teams just sort of figured out what they are doing. Tough to say right now, but I do know that 1.25 PPG from last four is last year's team which means it looks like the Crew are in for a real grind next week vs. a desperate New York Red Bulls.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Crew Rd 6, Home vs DC United

DC United is back in town this evening to take on the Columbus Crew. Kickoff is at 7:30 PM EST. Temps will be on the cool side (60-ish) with a slight NE breeze (means it'll feel like -8 in the stadium, bring your blanket).

CLB: Winless in last two
CLB: Only question to lineup might be up top (Oduro or Arrieta)
CLB: Still healthy, Paladini might make 1st app as a sub
DCU: Ben Olsen is still coach
DCU: Dykstra to start again, Hamid out
DCU: Last 2 are 1st back to back wins since Oct 2012

Percent is accuracy in picking result this season for Crew matches only.

Large stake on 1-0 Crew win and 58% of the 'Your Vote' (DC 12%)

Adam Jardy - Crew beat man on the pulse, like white on rice and bees on honey - notes that "the Crew will enter this game as a heavy favorite - just like it did against Toronto." Have a feeling Jardy thinks this one may go the way the TFC one did (noted). Pick up the Dispatch today, good stuff on possession and how players like playing that way.

Thomas Floyd took down a long quote from DC boss Ben Olsen praising the Crew. Olsen gives "Gregg a lot of credit" and singles out Higuain, Oduro and Trapp as good players. "They're fun to watch," he said.

Previewer Gra... wait!? Not Ruthven today? Martin Laurence thinks the Crew have enough to edge out DC tonight 1-0 but thinks it will be "a tight match this weekend."

Home team are heavy favorites today (8/11 fav, Draw 13/5, DC 15/4). Only heavier favorite this week is KC over Montreal.

Last out at home against TFC didn't go well at all. Crew will be looking to get back on track tonight.

Another week, another major lean towards the Crew with five of six votes going their way. Only one picking draw, none have DC.

We are officially into the season now, table positions will start to matter more as a sign of quality.

Epperley is pretty confident the Crew will in this one 2-1 siting support as one of the drivers... "I see them bouncing back this weekend at home in front of their massive supporters (who killed it this weekend with their welcome to Atlanta)." Interesting. Because Sherman also "killed it," right? - an angry Virginian.

n/a% MASSIVE REPORT ... (no pick)
Josh Williams wants to make up for the last game and says the "Nordecke will be ready." Go check out Mr. Murphy's latest to find out more about what (a remarkably prepared and up to speed on DC) Williams thinks about DC.

DC haven't been limiting attempts against the last two weeks, particularly last week. NY dominated DC with tons of possession in their half and loads of attempts, but they didn't bring the shooting boots (and that was a DC home game).

It's entirely possible that this week's game will look like that NY / DC match up. United aren't a possession team and that plays well into what the Crew want to do but the big question will be if the Crew can finish. They have been well below average with Dominic Oduro leading the attack as far as shots on frame % (you want to be getting 1 in 3 on the 'keeper) and I don't really see that changing much today if he gets the call.

With open play goals generated from possession something we probably won't see tonight, it means is that set pieces will be the difference maker today.

Tonight's wildcard, however, will be Eddie Johnson. Eddie is healthy and is settling in with his team and his money. Once he gets all settled in he will get hungry for goals. Is that tonight or is it later in the year? I'm not sure. But with the team finally getting a few results I think his time is coming... and when it does, it'll come in bunches. Water finding it's level and all that.

Final note is related to Jardy's "just like it did" TFC comment. This week does feel like that (team even seemed to be very relaxed at training yesterday, according to reports). While Josh Williams might be up to speed on DC, most other starters probably think they are facing the same team the rolled week one at their place. DC was never really out of that game and had Parkhurst not drawn that penalty it might have ended differently.

DC is a much better team that that first week and full of confidence. It's an extremely experienced group made up of players that have all probably played well at Crew Stadium at one time or another. Throw in a very light crowd (by very I mean approaching 10k levels with the Blue Jackets playoff game starting at same time) and this match up could have a few surprises.

We see. Bundle up and for God's sake, take a blanket so you don't have to buy one at the stadium.

Friday, April 18, 2014

...more +/- (subs), PPG back to 2011

To expand upon what I was writing about in my last post, I'm going a couple steps further to look at sub +/- and take Points Per Game (PPG) earned as starter back to 2011.

Starting off with Substitutions because I think it can tell us a bit about the Crew that we may or may not have already known. Some observations:

 1. Since the beginning of 2012 the Crew Subs have a -23 aggregate goal difference. That works out to be -0.11 per match. That might not be too surprising to some Crew fans. Most of these games were coached by Robert Warzycha and he has something of a reputation for not using the right subs.

 2. The overall negative goal difference for subs points to the Crew losing ground once the bench gets called upon. What that -23 goals represents is basically dropping 23 goals after the 60th minute over the last 73 games played since March 2012.

 3. A lot of the subbed players since 2012 is a virtual wasteland of "could have beens" and "never was".

 3a. The most subbed on player since the beginning of 2012 gas been Ethan Finlay with 29. Right behind him is Justin Meram with 26.

29 : Ethan Finley
26 : Justin Meram
17 : Tony Tchani
13 : Aaron Schoenfeld
11 : Emilio Renteria

 4. There are eight players who have been subbed on more than 10 times since 2012, here's how they did:

GOAL DIFF : NAME (subbed on)
+0.18 : Emilio Renteria (11)
+0.15 : Justin Meram (26)

0.00 : Tony Tchani (17)
0.00 : Kevan George (11)

-0.09 : Ryan Finley (11)
-0.23 : Aaron Schoenfeld (13)
-0.27 : Konrad Warzycha (11)
-0.28 : Ethan Finlay (29)

 5. Berhalter and the 2014 Crew have, so far, kept control of games after subs start entering. His 15 subs through 5 games are +2 goals. Good.

 6. The other guys:

+0.67 : Tyson Wahl (3)
+0.50 : Adam Bedell (2)
+0.40 : Julius James (5)
+0.20 : Joshua Williams (5)

0.00 : Jairo Obando Arrieta (7)
0.00 : Cole Grossman (5)
0.00 : Matías Sánchez (4)
0.00 : Nemanja Vukovic (3)
0.00 : Dominic Oduro (1)
0.00 : Kirk Urso (1)
0.00 : Milovan Mirosevic (1)

-0.14 : Bernardo Anor (7)
-0.25 : Eric Gehrig (4)
-0.25 : Shaun Francis (4)
-0.33 : Ben Speas (9)
-0.50 : Danny O´Rourke (6)
-0.50 : Dilly Duka (6)
-0.50 : Olman Vargas (4)
-0.50 : Federico Higuaín (2)
-0.50 : Matt Lampson (2)
-0.67 : Chad Barson (3)
-1.00 : Chris Birchall (1)
-1.00 : Tom Heinemann (1)

 6a. Highlighted Williams, Anor and Arrieta because they are regular starting rotation guys this year. The team has been able to hold there own when they have entered. Considering the + goal diff and combined amount of times the two have entered sort of shows they are starting MLS quality. Not the be all end all but it doesn't hurt their case.


In yesterday's post I looked at % points earned per player start since 2012. I chose that year because I felt that going back any further was pretty irrelevant. I've changed my mind though, for a few reasons, but mainly because 2011 was the team's last playoff year.

Here's the list of everybody over 10 starts...

PPG per Start : Name (starts since 2011)

2.00 Carlos Mendes (12)
1.71 Matt Lampson (14)
1.67 Kevin Burns (15)
1.59 Chris Birchall (17)
1.56 Federico Higuaín (45)
1.51 Bernardo Anor (35)
1.51 Eddie Gaven (71)
1.50 Tom Heinemann (12)
1.50 Joshua Gardner (22)
1.50 Justin Meram (24)
1.50 TOP 25% (26)
1.48 Wil Trapp (21)
1.46 Sebastián Miranda (68)
1.44 Jairo Obando Arrieta (41)
1.42 Joshua Williams (57)
1.40 Emilio Renteria (30)
1.39 Chad Barson (18)
1.38 Dejan Rusmir (13)
1.38 Julius James (39)
1.38 Emmanuel Ekpo (29)
1.35 Dilly Duka (31)
1.35 Agustín Viana (20)
1.35 MEDIAN (37)
1.34 Andy Gruenebaum (56)
1.33 Nemanja Vukovic (12)
1.32 Milovan Mirosevic (25)
1.31 Chad Marshall (87)
1.30 Tony Tchani (33)
1.28 Danny O´Rourke (43)
1.28 Eric Gehrig (18)
1.24 Will Hesmer (33)
1.24 Robbie Rogers (25)
1.23 BOTTOM 25% (16)
1.23 Gláuber Berti (13)
1.23 Andrés Mendoza (26)
1.22 Dominic Oduro (37)
1.21 Tyson Wahl (24)
1.18 Shaun Francis (11)
1.17 Rich Balchan (18)
1.09 Ben Speas (11)
0.80 Matías Sánchez (10)

The Crew median of 1.35 over the past 3+ years obviously doesn't cut it. The measure of success in MLS seems to be the playoffs, which means finishing top half. That usually means a 1.50 PPG or better. For the Crew this has been difficult to achieve. Above, you can see that only the top 25% are there.

If one were to put together the best starting lineup based on PPG earned as a starter since 2011, it'd look like this...


This lineup, were it healthy, would earn you 1.52 PPG (even better if you played your subs well). That 1.52 is good enough to get you into the playoffs but not that much better. The talent here is probably better than that number but the coaching was suspect.

Some out there are immediately going to point to Burns. I'm there, too. It's surprising but I remember looking at this back in 2011 and thinking team results with him playing were good. At worst, people can have opinions on his back passing or play on the ball, but what you cannot argue with are the results he got when he started. His common look and weak demeanor probably held him back with some of the fans.


Next up (in the yellow kit) is a lineup with that only get you about 1.21 PPG were you to use it regularly in MLS. These are the guys that didn't perform well when starting games. Not that many surprises. The 1.21 PPG number is enough to put a team way down the table though.

Hesmer is a bit of a surprise but that 2011 year (the only one I'm counting with this post) was not a good one for him. He's a legend, no doubt. But if you look at some of the guys in this lineup you can see why he has been a little critical of the team of late.

Other guys on this list like Shaun Francis (most assists from LB since 2011) and Tyson Wahl (...) highlight how difficult it's been for the Crew to fill that LB spot. I was a little bummed to have to include Mendoza on this lineup but these are numbers I've been tracking and know he didn't get results when he started.

On Mendoza though. He had an amazing left foot. Some of his goals are of the best quality we've seen in town this side of Higuain. His talent was undeniable and I enjoyed watching him but he was the complete opposite of his head coach.


This feels like an old school Helltown type post about a post about something that only makes sense to me so I best be moving on, but before I do;

DC United in town tomorrow and Jairo Arrieta should start.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Crew +/- and PPG, 2012 to Present

It's a little early to start looking at +/- and individual points earned per start (the addition thereof becoming what I call KRAMB) for 2014 but let's take a look at what recent results are telling us as well as which players got results when on the pitch.

2012 CARLOS MENDES: 12 STARTS, 2.00 PPG, +0.58 GDpGM

Carlos Mendes is the most successful Columbus Crew player with over ten starts since the beginning of 2012. Taking into account the climate of the Crew during his time, no easy task. With him on the pitch the Crew averaged 1.50 goals per game (best) and only conceded 0.92 goals against (3rd best). The goal difference there is +0.58 (best).

Mendes (who is now Captain of the NY Cosmos) managed 7 wins from his 12 starts with only 2 losses and 3 draws. That's earning 67% of all possible points while starting. Also best on the team.

Let's start with that...


% PTS Earned - NAME - STARTS
66.7% Carlos Mendes 12
61.9% Dilly Duka 14
57.1% Matt Lampson 14
52.9% Chris Birchall 17
52.5% Sebastián Miranda 33
51.9% Federico Higuaín 45
50.8% Eddie Gaven 44

50.4% TOP QUARTER 21

50.0% Emilio Renteria 16
49.4% Bernardo Anor 29
49.2% Wil Trapp 21
48.0% Jairo Obando Arrieta 41
47.4% Joshua Williams 57
46.3% Chad Barson 18
45.2% Eric Gehrig 14

45.2% MEDIAN 21

45.0% Agustín Viana 20
45.0% Justin Meram 20
44.8% Tony Tchani 32
44.4% Nemanja Vukovic 12
44.0% Milovan Mirosevic 25
43.2% Danny O´Rourke 37
43.2% Chad Marshall 54


42.6% Andy Gruenebaum 54
41.0% Gláuber 13
40.5% Dominic Oduro 37
40.3% Tyson Wahl 24
36.4% Ben Speas 11
26.7% Matías Sánchez 10

Personally, I believe earning points as a starter is a perfect starting point when trying to figure out whether or not you've got the right guy in there. It's very simple. The guys is in the starting lineup... team wins. Look at Chad Marshall, Andy Gruenebaum and Danny O'Rourke. Three favorites here in Columbus that Gregg Berhalter rightly didn't bring back for 2014. Look at all the starts, they were not getting it done and the team had missed both the 2012 and 2013 playoffs.

Notably, way down the list there are a handful of current players falling below the water line. Current starters Tony Tchani and Dominic Oduro are there. Digging a bit deeper, Tchani's play has greatly contributed to the Crew's early 2014 success.


The Crew are off to a great start in 2014. In fact, because the lineup has been stable and the team is winning, most of the new players on this year's team would be leading most of my key performance metrics. Except Oduro, again. With him starting up top the Crew are 1-1-1 with 2 goals for and 3 against while Jairo Arrieta kicked off the year 2-0-0, 4 goals for and only 1 against.

With only five games on, 2014 is gives us just a small sample set - but matching it up with results over the past couple years it's not out of the ordinary. Arrieta has the edge, as far as filling the role up top.

The rest of the group? So far the new guys, again, are off to a great start (just look at the league table for their team stats). This weekend's second test against DC United will tell us a lot. What's that? Oh yes, long way to go. It always is though, isn't it.



+0.58 Carlos Mendes 12
+0.36 Dilly Duka 14
+0.33 Nemanja Vukovic 12
+0.15 Agustín Viana 20
+0.14 Matt Lampson 14
+0.14 Bernardo Anor 29
+0.13 Emilio Renteria 16

+0.12 Sebastián Miranda 33
+0.11 Federico Higuaín 45
+0.09 Tony Tchani 32
+0.07 Joshua Williams 57
+0.07 Eddie Gaven 44
+0.03 Dominic Oduro 37

0.00 Chris Birchall 17
0.00 Jairo Obando Arrieta 41
0.00 Danny O´Rourke 37
0.00 Gláuber Berti 13

-0.04 Milovan Mirosevic 25
-0.04 Tyson Wahl 24
-0.05 Justin Meram 20
-0.07 Chad Marshall 54
-0.07 Andy Gruenebaum 54

-0.14 Wil Trapp 21
-0.17 Chad Barson 18
-0.18 Ben Speas 11
-0.43 Eric Gehrig 14
-0.50 Matías Sánchez 10

Monday, April 14, 2014

Columbus Earns Point in San Jose, Still Top of East Five Games In

1ST HALF (1-0)
Only MLS game on Sunday this week. Both teams felt each other out, Crew scored late (Higuain Goal, Francis Assist).

2ND HALF (0-1)
San Jose came out determined to get a goal and got it. Many subs later, game ended.

Sunday afternoon MLS game in San Jose in mid-April ends in a Draw.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Crew Rd 5 Predictions, at SJE

The Columbus Crew are in San Jose today to take on the Earthquakes. Kickoff is 3 PM EST, 1 PM PST. Weather should be just awful out there today.

CLB : Team still has clean bill of health
CLB : Lineup not expected to change much
CLB : Look to get back on plan after last week's loss
SJE : Only played 3 MLS games in 2014 (+CCL action)
SJE : Looking for first win of 2014, losses to Sporting and New England
SJE : Off last week

Percentage on left is accuracy so far this season in picking result. Sorted Best to Worst.

For the 5th match in a row, Win Draw Win likes the Crew. Wiseguys like this one to have some goals in it (which is different) 1-3 to the Away side. "Your Vote" also likes Columbus with 48% (Draw 29%, SJ 22%).

Adam Jardy thinks the story this week will be how the Crew rebounds from their seasons first defeat last week. Edge seems to go to SJ because of how physical they are and the fact that they are looking for their first win. Pick up a copy of today's Dispatch here in town if you get a chance!

Graham Ruthven likes the Crew this week to "return to winning ways." Noting the great start the team has. He also mentions Scott Cooper is "under increasing pressure to turn their form around." Crew have higher whoscored.com rating.

Looks like SJ is getting better than even today 10/11 (12/5 Draw, 3/1 Crew). A low scoring 1-0 match most likely.

No author listed on this lonely game preview but he/she does note that, "fans hoping their side will pick up three points may be disappointed if recent history holds. The previous three meetings between the Quakes and the Crew have ended in draws." Readers have chosen SJ this week.

Well, they have this going for them today.

The team over at the corp league offices likes the 'Quakes today, 3 of 6 picking them. Two draw, one lone pick Crew from Kristel Valencia. Kristel has lowest accuracy rate of the group.

Drew Epperley likes "the Quakes chances being at home in this one as Chris Wondolowski gets rolling here." He also says that "Columbus has to show that they can be the same club that impressed" early on. Why do they have to do that? For power rankings?

We'll go ahead and kick this on off now that it is past week five.

n/a % MASSIVE REPORT ... (no pick)
Head on over to MR to check out Pat Murphy's preview of the game to find out how seriously the Crew are taking this match. His preview is excellent as always and full of pre-match quotes and overloading with important information.

Weather is a common player complaint about playing away to San Jose. Garber to address issue?
First thought that ran through my mind when seeing this game on the schedule was that of relief because it wasn't going to be a 11 PM start but after thinking on it decided that it was sort of a bummer though because I like seeing the evening sky and the sun set on Buck Shaw. There is something about the color and shadows I love about it. I think some of it comes from the fact that the stands sit low and allow the sun to drench the pitch and players in magical hues... take it away Kerouac.

“Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgandy red, the fields the color of love" ...

... where was I?

As mentioned a few game previews above, these two have played to low scoring ties in recent times but each one has been memorable in its own right. Last time this matchup was lopsided was a few years ago, late game eastern time out there and the Crew got stomped 3-0.

San Jose is a team that feeds off emotion. If they get going early, it's bad for the Crew. If they are in it late, it is bad for the Crew. Chris Wondolowski's last game being one where he played well for the USMNT against Mexico is bad for the Crew. Fact that SJ has only lost one of last 22 at Buck Shaw is... well you get the point.

Those things are all emotional type things a team like San Jose feeds off of. The Crew are taking on the mentality of their new coach Gregg Berhalter and he is the antithesis of riding on emotion (so far anyway). The way he is building this team is exactly the right poison for a group like San Jose has.

It might be cold and boring, but if Berhalter can get it right he will win games like the one. I reckon that's what I'll be looking for today but if they'd kindly leave the camera running until the sun is finished setting this evening, I'd be looking for that too.