Saturday, July 9, 2016

Crew Notes before tonight's match...

Sitting down to do this one because there is a thing about to happen that hasn't happened in Columbus for a long time (possibly has never happened, but my records only go back to 2007, which is plenty far since this league changes so much year to year).

1. Ola Kamara Scoring Record. Gregg Berhalter wondered why his scoring record hasn't gotten more attention (Columbus Dispatch, July 9, 2016). There are a couple reasons for this. Okay, maybe three. First off - He's only played 609 minutes. He's on fire! But he won't start pinging any spreadsheet warrior's radars until he hits 900. 2nd. He's only got goals (7), no assists and has never registered more than one Key Pass in a match so far. Kei Kamara was regularly involved in the run of play. Holding up play or distributing a key pass or header. Ola is a straight up lethal goal scorer. Lastly, Ola has passion to spare, but he looks like one of those placeholder headshots for players in FIFA 16. "Robot-y." Harsh, I guess. But Kei, by comparison, had personality and an amazing, unique look. He also played happy.

2. Where is Wil Trapp? (or) Time for Wil Trapp! When a team loses a couple top players you usually look for other guys to pick up the baton. Both behind (CBs out) and in front (Higuain out) puts Trapp kinda in no-man's land, but you would think he would grow into a larger role. Instead, overall play has leveled off (outside of turnovers, which have tripled this year). Maybe it's a coaching issue. Maybe it's just him being so locked into his ways. Not sure. He's a good player, no question. But he's not getting better. If he wants that USMNT spot, he'll have to do that. Also, not be on a really bad team.

3. This team needs help. Even if it's just warm, healthy bodies.

4. Last one. There's a chance that Columbus drops to the bottom of the combined MLS table tonight. I've never seen that at any point during any season I've been tracking it (since 2011). It's amazing how with modern sports they've got it figured out how you can feel good about a last place team. Or if you are critical of a bad run or bad season that you look like Mr dark clouds. Last is Last. Completely and totally unacceptable in MLS. The team needs to unwind what has happened now that they are in this position. Anthony Precourt knows this. Ohio sports fans are notoriously positive about their teams. Perhaps it's because they are familiar to bad pro teams and always have the Buckeyes to fall back on.

Eventually, a losing record catches up to you and hits you where it hurts (attendance and engagement with fans). What's interesting is that we've never really seen a Columbus team out of the hunt by the team Ohio State University football starts up. At least, not in recent years. It'd be a strange place for all involved. Especially for new operator of the team who isn't complete in-tune with this funny dynamic.

Pressure is on! And it feels kinda good, in a weird way. MLS is a league usually bereft of pressure save for late on. But here we are. Can someone step up and win a few to lift the team?

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