Sunday, August 8, 2021

Crew in Crisis? Yes... and No

It's been a rough 10 days or so for the Columbus Crew. Three games, three losses with 11 goals against. It has been bad enough that it is sounding alarm bells off in the hearts and minds of even the most faithful Crew season ticket holder to the passionate blackout drunk in the Nordecke.

In fact, in a lot of ways, the fans are right to think something is horribly wrong with the team because having this many goals scored on them over a three-game span just isn't something that happens in Columbus. You have to go back over a decade to see it.

Making matters worse (and perhaps the sole reason for the anger at the team) in the mind of fans is that the Crew have only won a single match in five at the new stadium. The last two being losses.


Now, that record is probably giving the team front office nightmares. On top of the difficulty of selling MLS soccer in Columbus (historically), they now have to wrestle with a full month of poor results in their new little downtown wonderland of LED light and smoke - and the camo paint job on the empty seats is already noticeable. 

Ever since the successful launch and rebrand that Sporting KC pulled off, we see other MLS teams trying to recreate that magic. The Crew very well be the most like for like to KC since and honestly, it's a complete faceplant in comparison. KC only lost one game at their new "Livestrong Sporting Park" that entire season. It built momentum for the front office that they rode for almost a decade (could argue it's still going). 

The Crew, by comparison, had a disaster of a rebrand (which meant no new merch sales), and each home game I've seen empty seats (increasingly). On top of that, of course, is the results there. Not good!


Simply put, Caleb Porter has the Columbus Crew on the most consistently good run in modern MLS history (the last 12 years or so). The long view, on a 20 game rolling average, the team hasn't dipped below 1.55 points per game in 41 games. No team going back to the 2008 MLS Cup winners has been about to sustain that kind of PPG average. It's pretty remarkable.

The asterisk here with Porter is that this good run of games came after the absolute worst run in Crew history when he first started (the one win in 15 run April - July 2019). But this season has been a Gold Cup year and the team lost a couple key players for a few weeks in Room and Zardes. There are also a few injuries, notably to Valenzuela, Williams, and Artur that the team is dealing with.

So, you are watching a good team on a really long good run that might be coming down out of it after a year + of outstanding results. Is it frustrating it is coming right when the new place opened up? Yep. it also possible that Porter is flaming out gloriously? yes.

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