Saturday, May 31, 2014

Predictions: Crew Rd 13, TFC (away)

The Columbus Crew travel to Toronto today to take on their local pro team at BMO Field. Kickoff is 5:00 PM Eastern (4:00 PM Central, for any Indy Eleven fans scouting their next US Open Cup competition).

CLB: Federico Higuain suspended (Yellow Card accumulation)
CLB: Reports have Daniel Paladini as replacement (Speas also possible)
CLB: World Cup absences; Giancarlo Gonzalez, Waylon Francis
TFC: Michael Bradley, Cesar out on World Cup duty
TFC: Regular captain Steven Caldwell out on suspension
TFC: Still have impressive roster, disjointed though

Number on left is percentage accuracy picking 2014 Columbus Crew results only.

Graham Ruthven is doing really well with predictions this year, believes; "Even without Bradley and Cesar, Toronto FC should claim all three points at BMO Field." Predicts a 2-1 home victory.

Stake on Away Crew win (0-1) as well as 45% of the famous "your votes" (29% draw, 24% Toronto).

"Gregg Berhalter likely will be privately pleased to return home with a point," states Adam Jardy in today's match preview. Says it's "impossible to overstate" Higuain's importance. Head out and pick up a paper today, nice piece on Ethan Finlay.

33% BET365 ... TORONTO FC
Evens for the home side (normal). Crew getting 11/4, Draw 23/10.


Surprisingly heavy for the Reds today, 5 of 6. Only other prediction is draw.

25% WV HOOLIGAN ... (no pick)
No predictions

Rudi Schuller runs thought game points, notably states that TFC "may not have a better opportunity" to put Columbus away without the services of Higuain. Surprisingly, the Crew lead in the "readers predictions" section (where there seems to be a good bit of activity... more than normal anyway).


--% MASSIVE REPORT ... (no pick)


Mid-season games like this one can sometimes fall a little flat (especially Toronto matches) but the weather looks perfect (60s) and the lineups should be filled with guys that don't usually get to play much. So, opportunity for a spirited clash is there.

Even though Eric Gehrig played extremely well last week, Columbus fans will likely see Michael Parkhurst back in the line up along side Tyson Wahl at center backs. At right back will probably be Josh Williams, on the left Chad Barson.

The absences won't affect Toronto too much today as they still have ample ability to score multiple goals against a Crew back line that is missing two regular starters to the World Cup. What this means is that even if Columbus scores one or two, Toronto still has the ability to make that ground up. Flip that and the Crew don't have that luxury. They will have to play tight and smart to get a result today.

Overriding key to the match today is the absence of Federico Higuain. He's leads the team in all key categories and easily one of the best players on the pitch for either side when he plays (which has been just about every minute, going back through the preseason even).

Anywho... early match means still time for a movie or something afterward. Maybe even during if Toronto puts a couple up on the Crew in the first half. Enjoy the match!

Site Note: Episode II of Red Cards in Helltown records tomorrow! Look for it Sunday evening for a succinct recap of tonight's match as well as news, notes and commentary on the rest of the league and upcoming World Cup. Check out Episode I if you haven't already.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Successful US Open Cup 3rd Round for NASL, Crew to Face Indy Eleven

The third round of the 2014 US Open Cup belonged to the NASL as their entrants won 6 of 8 and out scored opponents 22-11. Head on over to for a full summary of round three as well as results (bracket can be found HERE.)

One of the biggest wins of the round was NASL's Indy Eleven trouncing USL Pro's Dayton Dutch Lions 5-2 with a hat trick from recent Montreal Impact loanee Blake Smith. Wasn't all Smith however, as players like 19 year old Ben Spencer, Mike Ambersley and Dylan Mares placed shot after shot on (a often stranded, but very good) Brad Stuver.

With the win Indy Eleven advance to the 4th round (where US based MLS teams enter) and travel east to Ohio to take on the Columbus Crew up in Akron, Ohio at FirstEnergy Stadium–Cub Cadet Field on June 17th.

Indy looked more impressive verses a team the Columbus Crew just faced a week earlier in a friendly. Should be a really exciting match.

Below is the Indy Eleven vs Dayton Dutch Lion match in it's entirety.

Goal Scoring:
26' Smith - Indy
30' Smith - Indy
43' Ambersley - Indy
46' Mares - Indy
66' Schoenfeld (penalty) - Dayton
76' Walker - Dayton
88' Smith - Indy

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

United States National Soccer Team’s Success Incurably Dependent on the Fusion of Eleven Independent Individuals Functioning as One.

By: Vidda "JibJab" Grubin

One warm-up game, against Azerbaijan, and the true nature of the 2014 United States Men’s National Team, a team only three weeks from lacing up its collective boots and stepping across the World’s touch line, is an undisguised undertaking. And, perhaps, this naked endeavor is not such a horrible thing.

Knowing one’s true nature is undoubtedly a precursor to success.

The 23 men chosen by Jurgen Klinsmann are, undoubtedly, not going to run circles around any of their competition. They are, though, going to pose a considerable threat to any team they face, if the red, white and blue clad footballers can grasp the madness within the collective method.

Stars and stripes players flying past opponents, as if the opposition is nothing more than cautionary cones lining the edge of a summer highway, will be rarely seen on the sun drenched pitches of Brazil. Speed, the kind normally in high regard amongst touchline bosses, is in short supply within the American soccer squad. And, perhaps, this lack of velocity is not such a horrible thing.

Northern Brazil in the North American summer of 2014 will, certainly, be uncomfortably warm. How teams adjust to this languid heat and humidity will more than nominally affect the outcome of many games this June and early July.

Driving the ball from one end of the pristine fields to the other at a cohesive, controlled tempo will be sought after by many of the teams striving for the world’s most coveted prize. Jurgen Klinsmann seems to have chosen a collection of players well suited to this enviable task.

No doubt, the American strikers must round into highly efficient form. No doubt, the American defenders must be clever in giving only the space they choose to give. No doubt, the American midfield must keep the lines in front and back linked tightly. No doubt, the American wingers must step up and find not a small bit of magic to unlock the buzzing penalty areas they will face.

The first step has been taken. Twenty three players have been chosen with the goal of functioning as one. The next step is up to those players. Will they present a near impossible puzzle to their opponents? Will they find the key to the sacred white rectangles dripping with twine?

Brazil, for twenty three men, is a dream not far away. Blink and the dream will arrive. But how will it end?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Other Guys

Would you believe that this Chicago match is the first time these guys have ever started a game together?

Ethan Finlay, Justin Meram, Eric Gehrig and Tony Tchani are players that have dotted Crew lineups for the past few years but have never really been the main attraction. Yet, this past weekend, the four of them contributed to one of the most comfortable Columbus wins in recent memory (snapping a long eight game winless streak in the process).


The four of them share a common thread in a strange way in that they are more or less currently seen marginal MLS talent. Regardless of how I rate them, none are big time signings and outside of some local blogs, tweets and Dispatch personality profiles the rest of the country will never know them, but all are critically important to the Columbus Crew franchise.

Major League Soccer has gone through a good bit of contraction and expansion with many a plethora of rule changes over the last decade. So any sort of stability is to be valued.

Take a look as some of the newer franchises in the league: The Philadelphia Union, Montreal Impact, Toronto FC, Vancouver, Chivas USA and even Portland. What they lack is an semblance of continuity. Momentum. It will be some time before they find stability. Not just because the way the league is set up but because it just takes time time to settle any organization, let alone a sports one.

Momentum is no easy thing to achieve, ask any business owner. The secrets to gaining it are never found by most and sometimes when it's lost, like in the case of Cleveland sports teams, it's never really found again.

Anthony Precourt, Gregg Berhalter and company are new to running a MLS franchise and will likely trip over every bump in the road until the find their bearings but as long as they have guys in the organization that have been around a bit. Know how hard it is to get that chance. Know what it's like to be ridiculed. To be benched. Booed. Know what it's like to have to wait months between starts while watching newly signed players get chances in front of them and do it all while not causing major disruption... they will be okay.


Eric Gehrig, Tony Tchani, Justin Meram and Ethan Finlay might never again find themselves in the same starting lineup earning three points for a win starved team, so it is to be valued. I value it. Criminally under valued, regardless of what happens next with these guys , is that they will be quietly contributing to the stability of the entire organization for as long as they are with it.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Who Would Landon Donovan Have to Be?

By: Vidda "JibJab" Grubin

Given Jurgen Klinsmann’s Logic for cutting Landon Donovan from the 2014 World Cup squad, who would Landon Donavan have to be to make the 2014 World Cup squad?

Given the fact that Landon Donovan has been a highly skilled, versatile and tireless player his entire career, who would Landon Donovan have to be to make the 2014 World Cup squad?

Given Landon Donovan’s infectious energy and pure joy for the game, who would Landon Donovan have to be to make the 2014 World Cup squad?

Given the fact that Landon Donovan has consistently made good personal decisions in regard to his mental and physical health and how those decisions affect the teams he plays on (See: Multiple MLS, Gold Cup, Open Cup titles. Goals and Assists at a rate no other American player has ever achieved. A World Cup goal total, 5, which puts him in rare company on the world’s stage), who would Landon Donovan have to be to make the 2014 World Cup squad?

Given the fact that Landon Donovan is one of those rare players who seems to play with the wonder of a child, some sort of magic always tucked securely within yet visible to all, who would Landon Donovan have to be to make the 2014 World Cup squad?

One can only guess that Landon Donovan, in Jurgen Klinsmann’s mind, would have to be an indestructible, Paolo Maldini like wall, inside a Usain Bolt of lightning, all slathered with Messi goal scoring Blaugrana Jam.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Winless Streak Snapped, Higuain and Finlay Lead Crew Past Chicago

The Columbus Crew put away Chicago 2-0 in somewhat easy fashion to end a 8 game winless streak that stretched back to March.

1ST HALF (2-0)
The Crew started this one out more direct than in previous weeks, and it paid off. Federico Higuain assisted on both first half goals to Ethan Finlay and Jairo Arrieta. The direct approach seemed to catch Frank Yallop off guard so he was powerless to do much about it until the halftime whistle.

2ND HALF (0-0)
Halftime adjustments made, both sides settled into a stalemate. Chicago's finishing isn't that great and the way Gregg Berhalter setup his 18 left for plenty of rested defensive players to come on late and put this on to bed.

Without Mike Magee the Fire proved to not have much of anything. After this one it's hard not to think that they need a roster overhaul and a fresh coach. They just aren't good enough.

The Crew, on the other hand, played a style that most of the players were familiar with and one Higuain thrives in when attacking. With Finlay, Meram, Tchani, Arrieta and Higuain out there it was like that magical back half of 2012 the team had when they put themselves into a place of respectability.

Worth noting that Eric Gehrig and Tyson Wahl did well as center back replacements for missing World Cup players Michael Parkhurst and Giancarlo Gonzalez (Parkhurst is expected to return to starting role next week).

Also of note; The Crew's 13 recorded crossing attempts was the lowest total of the season. Representative of a change in philosophy to return to a more direct attack in the opposing half.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Crew Rd 12 Predictions, Home vs Chicago

The Columbus Crew host the Chicago Fire tonight at Crew Stadium. Kickoff is at 7:30 PM, 6:30 Central. Looks to be perfect weather.

CLB: Parkhurst playing or not is critical to result
CLB: Gonzalez, Francis on national team duty for World Cup
CLB: Back line gave up 2 goals to 10 man Portland last week
CHI: Won two straight (NY, SKC) but hasn't been pretty
CHI: Shipp is Rookie of Year candidate, fun to watch
CHI: Not really firing on all cylinders under Yallop

Percentage on left is accuracy picking Crew games only.

Graham Ruthven doesn't really know how to call this one. Ultimately it becomes... "Will both sides' new-found attacking potency come to the fore? It could be a case of who can concede fewer."

Your Vote section has Fire 44%, Draw 34% and Crew just 20%. Large stake is on Away Win 1-2.

Put the astrerisk there because Adam Jardy thinks that with Parkhurst being in the lineup "would be the emotional boost needed for the home team to earn its first victory in nearly two months." Pick up the paper when you're out and about this beautiful morning.

Home odds for the Crew slipped to lowest in the league for today's slate of matches, but still favored 13/10 (12/5 draw, 2/1 Chicago).

I'll say the mystery preview writer favors the Fire by going the "two teams in opposite directions" card. Fan vote see's this as even. Mentions some midtable jockeying.


Crew pick up 4 votes from 6 from the table of experts employed at the MLS Home Office if Information and Propaganda. Two other picks are Draw. Wouldn't worry on this too much if I were a Chicago fan.

27% WV HOOLIGAN ... (no pick)

Chicago is ahead of the Crew on the true table (ppg), but only by a hair.

--% MASSIVE REPORT ... (no pick)
Head over to check out Pat Murphy's preview and find out things like the fact that Harry Shipp trained with Berhalter's Swedish side Hammarby.


Harry Shipp
As the season has worn on the Crew have loosened a bit on possession but they are still 2nd in the league in that critical stat. I would expect more of that today as the Fire don't mind letting the other side play.

What that means is this match will look a little like the last couple home matches against Vancouver and NY. If you can remember back to April 5th, even Toronto.

The key for Columbus is (and will always be) finishing chances. Last week they put three past Portland but two came on a 10 man team. While the Fire are giving up a lot of goals, I'm not sure they can replicate that performance (or that Higuain chip on Ricketts) but a couple isn't out of the question.

I see this on as pretty even with Parkhurst out there, edge to Chicago if he is not.

If your in town, go check it out! Should be nice out.

Friday, May 23, 2014

On The Fire, Post

Contributed to Jon Denham's "Prime Your Fire Pump: Chicago Fire vs. Columbus Crew" over at On The Fire.

In the preview I jump into some of the challenges the Crew face in figuring out their back line with key absences (with or without Parkhurst). Go check it out to find out the full details of what Jon and I think about tomorrow's matchup!

Parkhurst Not On US World Cup Roster

Versatile Crew defender Michael Parkhurst has been left off the final 23 man US Men's National Team roster for this year's World Cup in Brazil.

After the announcement Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt, whose investment in the player was likely largely influenced by Parkhurst's possible showing in Brazil, had this to say via Twitter: "Speaking for the Columbus Crew organization, we are all very disappointed for Michael Parkhurst."

Head Coach Gregg Berhalter also left a similar quote for, “We’re extremely disappointed for Michael, we know what an honor it is to represent your country in a World Cup. We’re proud of the way he prepared for and approached this opportunity,” said Berhalter.

Hopes were high and chances good for Parkhurst making the team so the disappointment here in Columbus is understandable. One of the reasons Parkhurst returned to MLS was to get playing time ahead of the World Cup. It's a life changing decision but one he certainly understood the ramifications of.

It didn't take Parkhurst long after the announcement to take to Twitter; "Gutted. At peace tho knowing I did everything I could and made it a tough decision for coaches. All the best to the boys in Brazil."

Parkhurst will be available for Crew selection tomorrow but of this writing coach Berhalter said it is up to him on whether he plays or not.


There is a group out there that thinks Klinsmann is leaning a lot towards the next World Cup with this selection. If that is the case than a player like Parkhurst being left behind in favor for a few younger defenders makes sense (namely John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin). Beasley, Besler, Cameron, Chandler are likely starters and with only three games guaranteed to fit in experience, time becomes precious.


Not a whole lot is expected for this year's USMNT as the group they are in is very difficult. Certainly, upsets are always part of the drama but the script rarely brings it the US way. It took a two goal comeback against Slovenia (FIFA rank - 17th in 2010) and late heroics against Algeria (FIFA rank in 2010 - 35th) just to get out of a weak group in 2010.

In the last two World Cups the US has 1 win from 7 matches, 3 Draws, 3 Loses. 7 goals and 11 against.

This year they face Ghana (38th), Portugal (3rd) and Germany (2nd).

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Columbus Crew, Dayton Dutch Lions Friendly / Scrimmage / ...

The Columbus Crew traveled west down I-70 towards Dayton yesterday evening to play friendly match against their new USL Pro affiliate the Dayton Dutch Lions.

Transitional year for these two teams. Columbus has a new owner and everything that comes with that and Dayton, after operating as a distant post for Dutch side FC Twente, is now also affiliated with a MLS team in the Crew.

As for the game itself, I feel it served several purposes. First off; It got some of the Crew players caught in no-man's land some playing time... guys like Ben Speas, Eric Gehrig, Ben Sweat and Fifi Baiden. They played pretty well, but the rust was clearly there. Second; It got some folks out to watch some pro soccer in West Carrollton. Third; It sort of smooths out the player comments from camp Crew about Dayton being "purgatory." 

The Crew ended up winning by two goals scored in the first five minutes.

Beautiful evening out in Dayton. Time sort of melts away for me on Midwestern Spring evenings like this one.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Crew Give Up 2 Goals To Ten Man Portland, Game Ends 3-3

Difficult to know where to start and end with this game. From a Crew fan perspective it was a wild match but for the Portland Timbers... it's just another night. One that, for teams bound by philosophic commonalities, isn't yielding results in this increasingly disrupted World Cup MLS season.

1ST HALF (1-2)
Where does Portland find these players? After talented Maximiliano Urruti gets Portland off to a dream start in the first 10 minutes a player like Alvas Powell, a 19 year old Jamaican International filling in for regular Michael Harrington, fouls the hell out of Chad Barson well in the Crew half and earns a sending off.

In between those events, Federico Higuain chips Donovan Ricketts to even it up in the 14th minute.

Later, right before the stroke of half, the Crew's Giancarlo Gonzalez draws a penalty off a corner attempt. Mr. Higuain steps up to finish it putting the Crew up 1-2.

2ND HALF (2-1)
The Crew should have put this game to rest but somehow Portland found another from Will Johnson to make it even.

Columbus responded, as they should have, when sub Ethan Finlay ripped one off his left foot and got a lucky deflection for goal (fortunate for Finlay but well deserved for a player that has absolutely earned for the hard working player, considering what's he's been through the past few years).

With 3 points again in the hands of the away side that tops the league in possession, Portland finds a way. Sub for a sub Gastón Fernández (who was easily the most talented player on the evening) scored late on to even it for good at 3-3. Game.

FINAL (3-3)
What do you do with a game like this one? It should be an awesome match featuring a couple of the young and progressive coaches in the US. Instead... One: it's a very late one for a east team playing in the western time zone. Two: It's being played on a horrible surface created by aliens. Three: Portland has support that creates a circus-like sideshow atmosphere. To describe it is to give it more credit it deserves. The leadership of the organization is rotten and they (and Caleb Porter) are lemmings being lead off a cliff.

Columbus should have won this sucker and with Michael Parkhurst and Waylon Francis, I think they do. Parkhurst replacement Tyson Wahl had a bad give away on one of the Portland goals and in games like this that all it takes.

After the game ended the camera panned over to a collection of Argentine players exchanging jerseys, chatting it up. Smiles all around. Federico Higuain, Diego Valeri, Maximiliano Urruti, Gastón Fernández. All had a pep in the step this match, rightly so. Their existence in MLS is the product of a an expensive league project to mine players from South America. While what fans saw this match was exciting to watch because of that, we are also reminded that this is just a small cross section of players that make up something so much more on the opposite side of the world.

Columbus hosts Chicago next weekend.

Podcast: Red Cards in Helltown - Episode 1

In this first show Rick Gethin, Justin Bell and myself talk about the the world of soccer with a focus on, but not limited to, the pro team here in Columbus. In this episode we touch on the FA Cup Final result, changes at Barcelona, domestic and European transfer windows, USMNT players returning to MLS (and not really to the Crew), Gregg Berhalter and his plan to build the team into a winner over time, and much more...

This is the first one and we are figuring it out - but are determined on building from the ground up. Each show is recorded 60 minutes straight through (warts and all) but ideas will be given room to breathe and thought able to be finished within a live type format, packed full. We'll work within ourselves for the first few but we have some pretty cool plans down the road.

Stay tuned! Thanks for listening.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Crew Rd 11 Predictions, Away to Portland

Late start for the Columbus Crew tonight as they are in Portland to take on the Timbers at Providence Park. Kickoff 10:30 PM EST (7:30 PM Pacific).

CLB: On Int'l Duty: Waylon Francis, Michael Parkhurst
CLB: Winless in last seven
CLB: Goal-less in last three
PDX: Starters Out: Chara, Harrington
PDX: 8 pts in last 6 at home (1 win, 5 draws, 0 loss)
PDX: Important 3 pts if they want to climb back in to season.

Percent correct in picking Columbus Crew matches only. Sorted best to worst.

Graham Ruthven is on a roll. Likes the Timbers in a low scoring 1-0 affair, saying; "Federico Higuain can't carry the team on his own and they look lightweight in attack as a result."

Portland all over this one. 2-1 stake and 55% of the Your Vote.

"It’s hard to forecast a Crew victory - or even a goal - until it actually earns one," states Crew beat man Adam Jardy.

Getting strong home odds with 17/20 (23/10 Draw, 7/2 Crew).

No name on today's quick preview. Nothing really of note here. Handful of fans that have voted like Portland.

Portland has been near impossible to be at home but teams have been pulling out draws.

Four of the six like Portland, the other two a tie. Jason Saghini leading the pack over there with 43% accuracy.

20% WV HOOLIGAN ... n/a
No preview today from Drew Epperley.

Few more branches to hit on the way down.

Pat Murphy takes a look at Crew player absences due to international duty, give it a read.

The Crew have everything to gain and not a whole lot to lose tonight. A late game win with a couple of key players out in the backline is sort of a get outta jail free card as far as a result. Speaking of the backline; it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

The Crew are lucky to have been able to keep Gonzalez for one more match, so they have him at CB. You've also got Josh Williams still available but some reports have him shifting to the left. The regular Crew backline is top five in goals against this year, so while a lot of focus has been put on a weak attack, defending and 'keeping is top notch.

Portland is always good for a goal late so even if the Crew get one they will be facing overwhelming pressure on a makeshift backline (that will also be out of shape and playing past bedtime). Hard to say the Crew have a win in them, though a tie would not be surprising.

Enjoy the game!

For any regular readers out there I'm happy to announce that Helltown will have audio tomorrow (some call it a podcast). Rick Gethin will host with myself and a couple special guests. We are pretty excited about it and have some very cool plans. Red Cards in Helltown is the show name, look for it!

Friday, May 16, 2014

MR Post: A Wednesday Night Sporting

New post up over at Massive Report were I spend some time going over a Wednesday night MLS match.

The idea for the artwork on the left is meant to represent the work Anthony Precourt has to do in order to reach some of the heights Sporting KC has achieved. Who says construction workers and tradesmen don't represent a growing city and team?

Go check it out!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Amidst the Beauty of the World Cup, A Black Mark Upon All of Us

Photo of Sepp Blatter making the official announcement of Qatar as host of the 2022 World Cup

Blog post inspired by the soon to be published short fictional novel Helton Janglom’s Template for Life. Look for Helton at the Amazon Kindle store.

Every four years this achingly personal, tragically funny world we all inhabit slows to a deafening buzz. Like so many bees, our purposeful yet often numbingly repetitive lives find us back in the hive. Shoes and socks find their rightful place in honeycomb closets and on worn entryway floors. Smiles of anticipation vibrate with the hum of unconsciously brought forth national anthems and tightly packed but comforting crowds. The World Cup is only days away.

Young children will sit still for hours, mesmerized by the world’s finest athletes, and then rush outside to magically become Messi, Ronaldo, Rooney, Suarez, Neymar, Neuer, Casillas or Howard. Grown men and women will link arms and sing, before shedding a tear of joy or sadness. The 2014 version of the planet’s greatest sporting event is sure to have many of us twisting left and right as samba takes root deep in our souls.

The true nature of the planet, the beat of our hearts and the dreams of all will be revealed for one month, an insignificant and fleeting moment in the miasma of time. All of us one, one of us all.

Amidst this wondrous blink of our lives, buried deep inside the tales which will spin in ninety minute increments on pristine green fields, is a harbinger of doubt. How, during moments of such sublime beauty, can anxiety force its way from the numbingly repetitive building blocks of our mind into this shared brilliance? Cannot we purposefully contain the achingly personal, tragically funny world, even for this brief instant?

We cannot. For, if you dream, if you revel in the joy of a spellbinding goal, if you feel the sting of defeat, if you lay bare the true nature of self, you must confront the twisted, even when basking in the light.

The world today is bright with the revealing gleam. Atrocities instantly circle the globe, and then, somehow, fade away yet continue. Women are made to crouch as less than, instead of standing as equal. A person’s self as nature designed can be spat upon, and worse, ignored.

Luckily, the place which holds the fingers that type these very words allows the words to be expressed.

To be certain, at times, this place has committed each of those atrocious acts. But this place battles mightily with itself to correct the adolescent need to belittle and destroy. This place is at a crossroads. The knowledge that we are all responsible for the very existence of each other can be a crushing burden. We must embrace that weight.

During a month where many of us will crowd together in the comforting hive, making each other that much more real, remember this; the sport which brings us together, soccer, or futbol, is only a sport, a wonderful and glorious sport, but only a sport. How we use the incredibly revealing nature of our sport is what matters.

Those who live lives of luxury while making decisions for where our beloved futbol will be played, how it will be played and how those who play and watch must carry themselves, absolutely and without reservation, are duty bound to strive for nothing less than the truth futbol can bring out of each of us. We are all responsible for the very existence of each other.

Awarding the beautiful game to people who consider themselves above others, to individuals who use personal and cultural beliefs to belittle and destroy others...cannot...ever...happen. The leaders of FIFA should be willing to put their names on the stadiums being built upon the bodies of hundreds (possibly thousands) of human beings in Qatar. The leaders of FIFA should be willing to stand in front of a microphone and tell the world they are okay with murdering all those innocent people. The leaders of FIFA should own their decision to award the beautiful game to a country whose culture denies the most basic of human rights to the majority of those living and working within its boundaries.

Remember this as you immerse yourself in the sport without kings this summer. Human beings are imperfect, but imperfection does not justify the willful ignorance of inherently evil acts. The nature of what our game can bring us is destroyed when a few greedy individuals sell both themselves and our sport to the still adolescent among us.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Testing some stuff out. If you're interested the song is from Digital: A Love Story. Won a bunch of indie game of the year awards not long back. Check it out.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Liked This (Detroit City FC Promo)

Living and working in the manufacturing community here in the midwest has learned me many things. High up on that list of things is that many cities out there try to pretend to be something they want to be instead of what they are - or something they are not, nor never will be.

Detroit has neither of those problems and as of this writing... Detroit City FC has no issues with identity.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Changes Not Made, Crew Drop 3rd Straight

Crew opt to put there head down and try to power through bad stretch of games with worn out lineup, come away with another loss.

1ST HALF (0-1)
Vancouver was running circles around the defensive side of the Columbus midfield and left 'keeper Steve Clark basically on his own to fend for himself. Thankfully for the home side, Clark benefited by some horrid finishing. Fans could tell one was coming though, and did it when Erik Hurtado made amends with a upper 90 shot in the 37th.

2ND HALF (0-0)
The chances for the Whitecaps never really stopped and the Crew struggled working the ball around after midfielders Hector Jimenez and Bernardo Anor were taken out again for Dominic Oduro and Justin Meram.

This one looked very similar to the Houston match in the 2nd half. Lots of intercepted passes and some easy missed chances for the opponents who, had they needed it, would have gotten another.

FINAL (0-1)
Surprising not to see some fresh legs out there this match. On top of most of the players playing a three match week (with a Sunday game, mind you) the regular group is stuck in a bad rut. Gregg Berhalter admitted making a mistake in playing his normal starters during the post game press conference but it's one of those things that you have to note in red. 

I'm sure if the Crew coaching staff could go back they would have opted for a few new faces on Wednesday to face Houston (a very winnable game) then returned to a regular, full strength lineup against an average MLS side in Vancouver at home. This isn't 20/20 hindsight stuff..

While I don't think the Crew are a top 5 type team, I do know they are much better than this seven game winless streak that they are on. A couple or three points in over the last week would have gone a long way but zero points in the last three falls on the coaches in this situation. 

Not the end of the world but at this point in the season on a bad run of form like this you have do things to get back on track very soon. This isn't Columbus 2007. There was some stability there. This group has been through a lot from the practice pitch all the way to ownership. Results need to come soon or the team risks poisoning the water supply.

Columbus travels to Portland next week to take on the Timbers in a difficult 10:30 PM match.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Crew Rd 10 Predictions, Home vs 'Caps

Crew host the Vancouver Whitecaps this evening. Raining now, more is expected. Kickoff at 7:30 PM EST, 4:30 PM PST.

CLB: Form 2nd to last in last 6 games (-5 GD, 3 Pts)
CLB: Trapp returning from suspension
CLB: Lineup changes expected, 3rd game in week
VAN: 1.67 Goals per Game, 4th in MLS. Only 3 in 4 Away, however
VAN: Win last week vs. San Jose
VAN: No Kenny Miller

Percentage on left is accuracy picking Columbus Crew matches only. Sorted best to worst.

Graham Ruthven speaking truth when he says "The Caps have been presented with an excellent opportunity to make it two successive wins." Likes them by a 0-1 scoreline.

Seems to be some confidence around an Away victory today. Those wiseguys have stake on 0-1 'Caps and vote them 39% chance to win (Draw 34%, Crew 26%). Pretty tight.

Check today's paper for news on how the team looks to approach today's match, also looks at how this winless streak creeping up Crew record books. As far as the result, Adam Jardy believes unfamiliarity breeds draw.

Odds in the favor of the home side today 11/10 (23/10 Draw, 5/2 'Caps).

Rudi Schuller from Goal Canada bangs out a preview today, in it saying; "Gregg Berhalter's side will be looking to re-assert its home field advantage against a Vancouver side that has historically looked average away from home."

Crew looking to get back on track at home. Only 5 pts over last 4 games at Crew Stadium and only 4 goals.

All aboard the Crew train this week.

22% WV HOOLIGAN ... n/a
Drew Epperley has been tied up the past couple weeks.

Jon Szekerez of Eighty Six Forever and Pat Murphy sit down and drop knowledge on today's matchup, go check it out and be a smart Vancrewcaps person.

First time this year the Crew weren't higher up than the opposition.


'Caps Coach Robinson
It won't surprise anyone when the Whitecaps play for the draw. They are not a good road team partly because they are an expansion franchise, but also because they have to travel so far.

That said, it's not like they are horrible this year away from BC Place. 3 drawn and only one loss says to me that Carl Robinson is just trying to hold ground away for now before he takes some risks. Risks that I do not think he will be very temped to take today very often.

Vancouver does have a lot of speed (oh, MLS loves the speed) so they probably can catch the Crew pushing numbers forward if so inclined.

It could get very interesting if both Josh Williams and Waylon Francis are rested today. Both of them have the speed to get up and down where likely replacements, whoever they are, do not (and will not be in game shape). Actually, that just might be the key to this game.

Of course a win is important, but a draw or loss here for the Crew isn't the end of the world because of the way the league works in East / West divisions. Meaning; a loss isn't giving a East team three points over the Crew or the Crew is dropping two points in a draw with an East team. With that, I think the Crew should take some risks pushing forward to get some goals and reset some bad confidence and form.

A shootout type 2-2 or 3-2 type match is something this team needs.

Draw most likely for me, 'Caps win least likely.

We see. Man, rainy out there. Take an umbrella if you are heading out the match today. Should be a fun one!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Finley Sent to LA's MLS Owned Team

The more you think about it the more you realize Ryan Finley has to be pleased about being traded to a team in L.A. that is in the process of getting an overhaul and, well... in L.A.

The official deal between the Crew and Chivas USA was for the player (Finley) and a conditional 2016 2nd round pick. The deal was just one of many yesterday with the MLS owned side was very busy yesterday being involved in just about every deal that went down between them, the Colorado Rapids, Toronto FC and Columbus Crew in a league trading with the league event dripping with cronyism that I'm not going to bother (nor is it worth) sorting out.


The Crew roster is now made more whole, as they freed up a spot to take Matt Wiet off the inactive (injury) list. With the roster still at 30 they will have to make another move if they want to sign a new player with the decent chunk of cap space they have (somewhere around the half million mark).


I like Finley as a player. He fits a role that I feel more MLS teams need yet don't bother trying. He might not be fast (which is something MLS overvalues), he might not be good in space (not many in MLS are) but he does know his way around the goal when in the box. It's an instinct he has.

With that, I have a message for those mentioning apps and goals (as things are listed on wiki). Stop doing that. STOP. He had 14 appearances but only 435 minutes. That's 30 minutes an app. On top of that there is a lot more to the game for 98% of the players that play it. This isn't basketball (even there these days...) and it isn't a box score. Advance a bit.

Up there on the left is his record. In red is where get got a goal and assist. Even if you have no idea who the player is, production there shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. He got a chance and made good, so how about we meet in the middle; a goal and an assist in three 2013 starts.


Reports from both Dayton and Columbus say that Finley was not happy about being "sent down" to Dayton to play with the Dutch Lions. Not sure who would like that, especially if a guy like Adam Bedell is getting time on the first team. Should Finley have swallowed his pride and been a good little trooper? Nope.

Of course there are ways of handling that without it getting nasty (not sure if it did but assuming so because of the trade) but keeping players attitudes straight is just as much, if not more, the responsibility of the coaches.

If Berhalter and Co. can't handle the attitude of a 20-something college graduate, that's on them. Shipping away should only be a last resort (team building 101, here). Especially for a team that can't find the back of the net and needs all the options they can get up top.

Anyhow. Paycheck is the same. Grab your stuff, get on a flight, change kits, get to work.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Crew Fall to Houston, Drift to Bottom Half of True Table

With a loss to Houston and no wins in their last six the hot start Columbus Crew now find themselves 12th on the combined true table (table that is based on PPG, GD).

1ST HALF (0-0)
This one started off like a midweek matchup would. Both teams wanting to make sure they played but not really wanting to be there. This showed more on the Dynamo side, I thought. Lazy defending, errant passing. Crew actually played pretty well by their new standards and probably should have had a goal.

As it went, both sides got away with not needing a goal (whew!). Telling sign of low intensity level was when the ref just called it on the strike of 45'.

2ND HALF (1-0)
Houston got things going after Tony Tchani fouled Corey Ashe just outside the box. Brad Davis stepped up and supplied Will Bruin all the cross he needed to put one away off what looked like his back. Regardless, goal scorers find ways.

Not long after head coach Gregg Berhalter started inserting subs to help try and improve his team's goal scoring chances. On came Paladini for the first time this year for Viana (who had a good game, also in his first appearance). From there Justin Meram came on for a tired Oduro. Finally, big Adam Bedell replaced right back Josh Williams.

Things got a little sloppy and Houston probably could have had another if they needed it because the Crew looked very leaky with only three in the back.

Crew looked plain tired and frustrated towards the end of the game. I'd say that this was because it was a midweek match up but they've looked pretty tired last 15-20 minutes of past few matches during this winless run of now six games.

Postgame quotes from Gregg Berhalter seem to indicate that he is ready for course-correction. Sounds like it is going to come by way of being more assertive and critical of individual play but I wouldn't be surprised to see some lineup changes and tweaks to tactics.

Either way, results have to improve for the team to progress. This isn't a youth team, they are professionals with careers on the line.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Crew Rd 9 Predictions, Midweek at Houston

Quick turnaround for the Columbus Crew after Sunday's loss to Sporting as they travel south to Houston to take on the Dynamo. 8 PM Eastern, 7 Central.

CLB: Wil Trapp out (suspension, red card)
CLB: Only 2 days rest
CLB: 3 pts in last 5
HOU: Big 4-1 win vs Chivas last match
HOU: Davis back, regained form
HOU: MLS vet Kinnear looking for wins during this part of season

Percentage on left is accuracy in picking Crew matches only.

Wiseguys like the Crew this week, 0-1 Away. 42% on Columbus victory in the Your Vote section (31% Draw, 25% Houston).

"The Dynamo will be looking to build on their win over Chivas USA as they try to salvage a poor start to the new season." 1-0 Houston, says Graham Ruthven.

Jardy says that the "three-game winning streak to open the season seems a distant memory," and thinks that the Dynamo are tough to beat at home. Pick up today's paper, good story on Trapp's replacement and some quotes from Berhalter about KC loss.

Home team is heavy favorites here, which is why we probably see the wiseguys moving on this one. 10/11 Dynamo (13/5 Draw, 11/4 Crew).

Up and at 'em is Jon Arnold with today's preview along with the general observation that "three consecutive wins to start the season, but the club hasn't picked up three points since."

Not expecting a huge crowd but Crew on one less day rest and on second away city in a few days.

25% MLSSOCCER ... n/a
Slackers. Will update if I get time tomorrow.

25% WV HOOLIGAN ... n/a
Busy week.

Check out a preview with a Dynamo Theory contributor. I'm not as impressed with Sean Ringrose as he is with his stats about when specific players score, but you decide for yourself.

Crew seem to be hitting every branch on the way down, here.

Very quick turn for the Crew and they don't really have any depth ready to come in and play. A situation made worse by Trapp being suspended. In the world of MLS this sort of thing can sometimes be an advantage but I don't really see that for the Crew this year. There are no reports with a concrete replacement for young Wil. Thus, a problem of depth for the Crew.

That doesn't necessarily spell doom and gloom for the Crew though. "The Oven" hasn't proved to be a difficult place for the Crew to play and being that it's a midweek matchup we shouldn't expect a vivacious crowd.

Houston, with an in form Brad Davis and an increasingly dangerous Will Bruin, are the team to beat here as the Crew are still trying to figure things out this year (a loss here and fans might be looking to next year).

We see. A draw would be high on my list of results, Crew win least likely.

Weather will be in the mid 70s. Enjoy.

Monday, May 5, 2014

(quick note on league structure)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

KC Undo Crew, 2-0

The Columbus Crew got a couple good looks but ultimately beaten by a team that never looked too troubled.

1ST HALF (0-1)
Fast start for Sporting KC as the did just about what ever they wanted and kept Columbus pinned down. Ten minutes was all it took for them to get one off a cross in to the box that couldn't get cleared (Jacob Peterson).

The only shot on target the Crew had in the first half was a close one from Bernardo Anor (Eric Kronberg made an excellent save).

2ND HALF (0-1)
As in previous weeks on this winless run, Columbus came out more determined in the second half but the activity on the middle part of the field was disrupted by the halftime sub of Oduro on for Jimenez.

Anor again provided the only real threats on frame (had 3 of the team's total of 4) but was subbed out in the 70th minute in favor of Justin Meram. So, with Meram and Oduro playing in the midfield it left Trapp and Tchani to do the heavy lifting.

Wil Trapp succumbed to a 2nd yellow not long after. Game pretty much ended there (KC did put one away in the dying moments).

The timing and the subs of Justin Meram or Dom Oduro in the midfield this game was questionable. Having both of them out there was a recipe for a MF collapse and now, as a result,Trapp is out for this Wednesday's matchup with Houston.

It hasn't been a good run for the Crew in the last five: 3 total pts with only 3 goals for, 7 against.

Not sure where else to go with this one. The Crew are on a bad run officially now. Needs to improve.

Crew Rd 8 Predictions (at SKC)

The Columbus Crew are in Kansas today to take on Sporting KC. Kickoff is 4 PM EST, 3 PM CST. This afternoon's match will be on NBCSN (the only one for the Crew this year).

CLB: Bernardo Anor back from suspension
CLB: Lineup looks to stay similar
CLB: Still a healthy side, just about all players available
SKC: Aurelien Collin is suspended today
SKC: 2013 MLS Cup ring ceremony pre-match
SKC: Outscored Crew 6-2 in last two in KC

Percentage accurate, Crew games only. Sorted in descending order.

Stake on 1-0 Home win with KC heavy in the "Your Vote" section (55%). Draw at 29%, Crew just 14%.

Coverage has been light since Adam Jardy has taken some time for the birth of his first child. Longtime writer Tim May has been filling in but not on the prediction. "Staff Reports" thinks this one could go either way.

"With Sporting KC it's always a question of whether their frontline clicks. If they do the Crew will have a game on their hands," says Graham Ruthven this week. Prediction; 2-1 KC.

29% GOAL.COM ... DRAW (?)
No preview for this match today at, which is strange for a NBCSN match. Looks like Sporting has the edge with the three readers that picked in the your vote section.

14% BET365 ... SPORTING KC
Heavy odds for the home team today (heaviest I've seen this year, even). 8/13 KC, 3/1 Draw, 4/1 Crew.

Crew have played better on the road so far this year.

The gang over here picked KC 4 out of 6. The other two have a Draw.

League watcher says this one is "Game of the week as far as I am concerned." He likes Sporting to edge it out 1-0.

Things are still sort of playing out, looks like.

Head on over to Massive Report to check out the latest from a hard working Patrick Murphy.

First thought is that we are a quarter of the way in the season and this match isn't getting the "top of the table clash" billing it might were it another league. MLS is strange this way.

Surprising that odds and pundits are in line today. Sporting being without Collin will open things up for the Crew in KC's back quite a bit. KC can sometimes play really aggressive and have had plenty of success beating up on a visiting Crew (6 GF, 2 GA in last two in KC). So, even though the new Crew style of play keeps opponents from getting a whole lot, I'd be lying if I didn't say KC could put a few past this Crew backline.

I don't have a preference on Jairo Arrieta or Dom Oduro for the Crew today because of that. I think Higuain likes Arrieta more (letting him take the penalty last week), so they should probably go with that.

A win for the Crew today would be huge. We see. Weather looks very warm down there today (80s). Should be a good one.

Friday, May 2, 2014

AMERICANIZED: Butchers Sporting CEO's Radio Comments

Robb Heineman, Sporting CEO
The easily avoidable headline over at today read: "Sporting KC CEO Robb Heineman says MLS can increase popularity by "Americanizing" broadcasts," but like a moth to a flame, I clicked.

There was nothing I could do. Images of timeouts, sponsored corner kicks, player's 40 times, and sideline cheerleaders danced through my head - like some sort of John Carpenter nightmare. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. Sadly though, the takeaway MLS chose was very MLS.

Steve Brisendine, the author of the post, decided to pull out part of a conversation towards the end of a 25 minute radio interview with CEO of Sporting KC Robb Heineman where they talked about Sporting's TV broadcast.

Heineman, for those that might not be too familiar with, is part of a group that completely flipped the Kansas City franchise into a regionally popular team with a new stadium and that just last year won a MLS Cup.

I've never really known Heineman to be an idiot so seeing these comments splashed across a headline sort of surprised me. I've been close to the league for a few years now and his player acquisitions have been very good. The way he treats them is good. His ideas on the sport have always been... reasonable.

Surely he doesn't think that "Americanizing" the broadcast is a viable solution to increasing TV ratings.

Turns out his comments about "Americanizing" MLS broadcasts were taken during a part of the interview were he was actually telling the radio announcers, who were calling for 2 minute breaks each half for advertisers, that Sporting KC has goals of there own - and not just those of MLS (ironic, ain't it).

Heineman handles himself pretty well, considering. After going over a ring ceremony planned for before the this weekends match up against the Columbus Crew, he goes into some frustrations with dropped points that organically turns into some pretty heavy criticisms of the refs (going as far as calling out one for costing him the 2013 Supporters' Shield).

They spend a good deal of time on the officiating problem in MLS right now. This is sort of where the radio interviewer starts bringing up the NFL and falling back to his comfort zone. Cards and penalties mean goals, goals is was US Americans want right? Heineman stays patient with them.

It's only at this point, when they start talking about adding sponsors and commercial breaks, that Heineman talks about adding tight shots to try and enhance the television product. He never goes into zooming in on the action all the time or anything.

For MLS to frame a piece the way they did should piss Robb Heinemann off. I understand the folks that write for MLSsoccer have to make a story but the owners of different teams across the league want to make money and most seem to know what makes it and it doesn't include a staff writer who doesn't know any better.

This sort of leads me to one of my biggest criticisms of the league in that you cannot expect corporate offices to drive the overall good of the league. Guys like Robb Heineman (and, hopefully, Columbus Crew's Anthony Precourt) are not cut from the same cloth Don Garber is. The league has to turn these guys loose if they want to move forward and get better.


Here is the full interview if you want to listen. The sucker is nearly 25 minutes long and hard to recommend, but if you just want some of the good stuff go to around the 11th minute to hear about Heineman being frustrated with the way PRO is handling games (contrary to Don Garber's comments on grabbing in the box).

To get to the CRAZY from the radio team at 810 WHB just click to around 18:30 in the interview. It in there somewhere where Heineman says some of the things they are suggesting are "too far off the reservation."

Thursday, May 1, 2014

MR Post, Young Trapp Shines

Have been wanting to fit a modern sports story on an old news paper for a while now. Not sure why. Thought about taking a bunch of stories and fitting them on an old Columbus Dispatch layout because I like the layout better and think it works well with the way stories are written now. Which is sort of weird because the current layout of the Dispatch (smaller and in color) doesn't match the content.

I'll go to my grave thinking that papers should have just dropped color to save some money, instead of the smaller format (and putting ads on the front page, damn you USA Today for ruining just about everything).

What do I know, anyhow. Here's my story. Tried to write it like something that might have fit back in 1976. The reason I did it was because it was fun to do.

Here's a link to the post. Hope it makes sense.

Even if it doesn't, the takeaway from it is to know that Wil Trapp is a good player. Like, really good. Not many like him. Not at his age. Some good players in Columbus right now (Higuain, Parkhurst, Clark, Gonzalez, Williams to name a few), but it's special that Trapp is with the Crew right now. He's not fake good. Good, good.