Send us a message

Interested in being a part of the team? Get in touch with us today.

Adam Uthe

VP of Content Development for GFT and proud supporter of Columbus Crew (MLS) and Liverpool FC (EPL). @AUtheGFT

  • Twitter
Sep 242013

I promise, no matter what I write in this post, I am NOT renouncing my Crew fandom.

In fact, I bought my first jersey since high school, as well as a nifty Homage shirt and paid for 2-day shipping in order to receive both before I see Columbus live and in person for just the second time all season this weekend.

In an effort to deflect criticism, I’m going to point the finger of blame at MLS. I’m thrilled the Crew are battling for their playoff lives in Dallas this weekend. I haven’t been this excited for a match in quite some time. But the fact that the Crew are still in the thick of things with the fourth worst record in the league tells you all you need to know about what an “accomplishment” making the playoffs has become. Brian Bliss could potentially wind up getting the head coaching job on a full time basis if he keeps this run going a bit longer. “Playoffs” is a buzzword though and there’s nothing us Americans love more than a good buzzword.

This is not to say that Bliss doesn’t deserve the job. By all accounts team morale has significantly improved since Robert Warzycha was fired and the results on the field speak for themselves. But these can’t be the kinds of factors that the front office looks at when the off-season rolls around. This is arguably the biggest off-season for the team since the team won its first and only MLS Cup in 2008. There will be many big decisions made, including who should lead this team. Just because the players are happier and the team is chasing a playoff spot, does not mean Bliss is the best candidate out there for this team.

Actually, he may be the best for coach for THIS team, but whether or not THIS team is still around come December remains to be seen. This roster could be completely overhauled depending on the moves the front office makes. New players may be brought in who don’t respond as well to Bliss and thus there may be a need for a new coach. A new coach will likely (or at least SHOULD) be selected before roster moves are made. This wild playoff run and the sudden momentum it has brought cannot be factored in to these critical moves that will be made during the off-season.

It’s not just Columbus in this situation either. Poor Chicago (sorry, I’m not one for “heated rivalries” at this point in my life”) has an inept, disinterested coach and owner, but they’re still in the playoff hunt and should they qualify it may mean another year of Frank Klopas for them. Bob Kraft will be able to justify his “absentee ownership” if they manage to claim a playoff spot. Philadelphia fans will have to put up with more penny pinching if they can sneak into that last spot.

The playoffs are used as a means of measuring success for individual organizations, but in reality they simply highlight just how mediocre most of those organizations really are. Columbus is not exempt from this. Even if they sneak in and make a run to the MLS Cup final, I’d still rather see Bliss return to his technical director role and bring in Guillermo Barros Schelotto as head coach. I’d rather see Mark McCullers depart and new executive (preferably not Dave Greeley) put in charge of the front office going forward.

Still, it is fun to see the Crew playing for SOMETHING after the ups and downs of this season. A month or so ago I thought they’d have nothing to play for; that they were stuck in mediocrity. They still are, but a playoff run like this masks that mediocrity very well. Such runs are great for us fans in the short term, but they cannot be used to influence the decisions that new owner Anthony Precourt will make this winter.


Sep 232013

I could have spent more time making that headline more alliterate, but alliteration is for losers.

Liverpool suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Southampton on Saturday that suddenly has them on the outside looking in when it comes to the EPL title race. Without Philippe Coutinho in the lineup, Liverpool seemed to be missing the creativity that has propelled them to such a good start. Daniel Sturridge found himself in need of service and reverted to Selfish Daniel, taking a handful of ill-advised shots in search of a spark for himself. With Jose Enrique and Aly Cissokho not quite 100% fit, Brendan Rodgers sent out all four of his primary center backs. With little help attacking from the flanks, the Reds were forced to try and barrel their way through the center of Southampton’s defense without their diminutive, Brazilian playmaker to unlock everything.

The loss is even worse considering the other results from around the league this past weekend. Manchester City looked impressive dominating the Manchester Derby on Sunday while Tottenham stole three points at the death and Arsenal and Chelsea completed very businesslike wins over lesser opponents. As talented as they may be, a loss to Southampton at home is the kind of result that you look back on when you’re 6 points out of first in the middle of April and wonder what could have been.

However, Liverpool fans need not lose hope just yet. First and foremost, their next two opponents are Sunderland and Crystal; the two worst teams in the table. Sunderland has just sacked Paolo di Canio and Crystal Palace will be welcoming back Ian Holloway after a two game suspension. These two teams present Liverpool a golden opportunity for six points and the chance to quickly get back into the title race. Then there’s the return of Luis Suarez from his suspension for biting Branislav Ivanovic last season. And in the absence of Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool may have found a new No.10 to pull the strings and feed Sturridge and Suarez: Luis Alberto. The young Spaniard scored a hat trick for the Under-21 side this time last week and showed signs of life as he displayed his creativity as a late sub against Southampton. The moment that sticks out in my mind was his attempted heel flick that, had he continued his run, would have sprung Sturridge into the box with just moments left in the match. Unfortunately, Selfish Daniel revealed himself at an inopportune time and he couldn’t be bothered to continue his run in the dying embers of a match that was there to be (at the very least) drawn.

The return of one Luis and the revelation of another leaves Brendan Rodgers with more options than he appeared to have after Coutinho departed last Monday’s draw with his shoulder injury. Here’s a Starting XI that should easily be able to conquer Sunderland Crystal Palace over the next few weeks…


Flanagan – Agger – Sakho – Enrique


Gerrard – Henderson

Aspas – Suarez – Luis Alberto

First of all, I’m not convinced Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez can form a proper partnership playing in Rodgers’ preferred 4-3-3. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to have Sturridge sit on the bench at the start of the next match to let him clear his head. I’m not wild about Aspas’s start in the EPL, but he has the creativity to link up very well with Suarez and Alberto at the top of the formation. The central midfield trio looked silly against Southampton and Liverpool suddenly find themselves with limited options beyond Joe Allen. If Martin Kelly is still slow to recover, I don’t see the problem in letting a true right back like Jon Flanagan take over for Glen Johnson. The four center back line clearly didn’t work, so get some natural outside backs in there.

I’m really excited to see Suarez back. I think he ought to be back in the starting lineup immediately and it was very encouraging to see him singing You’ll Never Walk Alone so enthusiastically prior to kickoff on Saturday. I think he’s over all the summer nonsense and starving to get back to his goal scoring ways. Do not underestimate his level of motivation, especially heading into a match against a Sunderland squad ripe for the picking. Stick Alberto next to him, and I see a 3-0 result this weekend to get things back on track.

Fear not Liverpool fans. Saturday’s loss hurt, but Dos Luis(es?) can still help right the ship!

“Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone!”

Sep 172013

After their 6-1 thrashing of Galatasaray on Tuesday, Real Madrid definitely look like UEFA Champions League contenders.

But what about their crosstown rivals?

Last year we saw Borussia Dortmund come from (relative) obscurity to make a run all the way to the final, where they eventually fell to Bayern Munich. Prior to that we only saw five teams compete in the five previous finals. In other words, Dortmund bucked a major trend last season.

Atletico Madrid can duplicate that bit of “magic” if you will. There are several factors in play that set them up nicely for a potential run to the semifinals where just a few lucky breaks are all that’s needed to reach the final match of the most grueling tournament on the planet

Coming Back To The Pack

Those five teams that made up the five Champions League finals prior to Dortmund-Bayern last year were Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea, Inter, and Bayern.

Inter have fallen off the map and are not in this year’s edition.

Barcelona are off to a good start in La Liga, but have a lot of question marks surrounding their defense and their ability to play from behind. You can trace those concerns all the way back to their knockout round fixture with Paris-Saint Germain last season and they don’t appear to have been addressed over the summer.

Manchester United’s mental toughness will be tested as they adjust to life in the spotlight without the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm. They were left with a bitter taste in their mouth after being knocked out by Real Madrid last year thanks in part to a controversial red card. They’ve only added Marouane Fellaini over the summer while the rest of their core of veterans is one year older and one year slower.

Chelsea’s biggest offseason addition was bringing back Jose Mourinho as manager. The Special One has a history of success in the Champions League and he’s brought in Brazilian midfielder Willian along with Samuel Eto’o. They were knocked out of a tough group last year and will be looking for revenge, but they haven’t gotten off to the best start in their domestic league.

Bayern Munich look primed and ready to get back to the final this year, especially after their impressive 3-0 victory over CSKA Moscow on Tuesday. Their biggest question mark is how they’ll adapt to new manager Pep Guardiola, but that doesn’t appear to be an issue so far.

Then there’s teams like Juventus (who drew 1-1 with FC Copenhagen on Tuesday), Paris-Saint Germain (struggling out of the gate in Ligue 1), and Dortmund (who don’t seem to have slowed down too much, but can they duplicate their effort?) who all look like contenders on paper, but haven’t proven themselves consistent Champions League title contenders in recent history.

David Villa’s New Position

Barcelona often tried to use David Villa as an out-and-out striker or a “false 9″ in their preferred 4-3-3. Now that he’s at Madrid, he’s not a lone, central forward but rather an unorthodox winger. He gets out wide and lets Diego Costa run the channels down the middle and so far it appears to have rejuvenated him. Villa has two goals and one assist in Atletico’s first four La Liga matches this season. If he can stay healthy (a BIG if) and continue his good form, it will go a long way in helping Atletico advance through the tournament.

Diego Costa’s New Responsibility

With Radamel Falcao off in Monaco, the scoring burden has fallen squarely on the shoulders of the volatile Diego Costa. Perhaps the only player as polarizing as Luis Suarez, Costa has a history of losing his cool in big moments and many have (rightly) questioned his mental toughness.

But the departure of Falcao seems to have inspired him to let his play do the talking. He has four goals and an assist in Atletico’s first four matches this season and shows no signs of slowing down.

Underdog Mentality

Atletico boss Diego Simeone isn’t exactly talking up his team’s chances ahead of their group play opener at home against Zenit Saint Petersburg on Wednesday.

“(Zenit) have been in the competition much more than us, and are an important team, with big name players and financial power. We are growing, with humility and work, and collective sense that we always have.”

He might be giving the Russian side a bit too much credit considering Zenit have never advanced far into the knockout round, but he seems to trying to instill that “underdog” mentality in his side and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Dortmund played like underdogs last season and rode that momentum harder and harder as the tournament went on. It can be an incredibly powerful motivator, especially with less experienced squad like Atletico’s.

Thibaut Courtois

The Belgian goalkeeper is quietly competing with Liverpool’s Simon Mignolet for the No.1 spot with Belgium’s national when the World Cup roles around in June. At just 21, he is already raising a lot of eyebrows and sometimes (as hockey shows us) all you need a hot player between the sticks.

“Collective Sense”

Though they lack Champions League experience, this Atletico side has a lot of experience playing with each other. They are not a team that has shuffled up their roster in the past, despite repeated attempts to dethrone Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga. The defense added Dutch international Toby Alderweireld this summer, but return a core of solid veterans like Luis Felipe, Francisco Juanfran, Miranda, and Diego Godin who does have some Champions League experience. The midfield is comprised of vastly underrated players like Raul Garcia and Arda Turan not to mention Atletico mainstays Tiago, Gabi, and Koke.

Since 2009-10, when they were last in the Champions League, this same group has won the Europa League twice as well as one European Supercup and one Copa Del Rey.

Obviously all of this can go out the window if they don’t manage to escape what is in fact a pretty tough group of Zenit, FC Porto, and minnows Austria Viena. Even if they get out of the group, a tough draw in the knockout rounds can do them in just as quickly and easily. But they do get Zenit at home on Wednesday and you can bet the Vicente Calderon Stadium will be rocking. If they can ride the home crowd to three points against the toughest team in their group, it will go a long way towards setting them up to advance. After that all it takes is one little spark to get through the knockout rounds.

If you’re looking for a plucky upstart like last year’s Dortmund team to not only make some noise but potentially reach the final, look no further than Los Rojiblancos.


Liverpool Turn The Corner Against Swansea

 Posted by on September 16, 2013 at 8:42 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Liverpool
Sep 162013

In his first match against Liverpool since being sold over the summer, Jonjo Shelvey looked eager to impress.

The young English international opened the scoring at the Liberty Stadium just two minutes into the match. Two minutes after that he played an ill advised back pass that was picked off by Daniel Sturridge and converted to level the score at 1-1. He went on to gift Liverpool a second goal with another poor pass in the 36th minute before setting up Michu in the 64th. He was very much the talk of the match and rightly so given his involvement in all four goals.

As memorable as his performance was (for good or bad reasons), it is not the biggest takeaway from Monday’s match.

When we look back on this match at the end of the marathon that is the English Premier League season, we may just see a turning point; a moment that everyone points to and says “THAT was the moment Liverpool got back in the spotlight”.

This match looked like a classic letdown. Liverpool had just defeated Manchester United 1-0 and emotions were riding high after the club’s best start to the season since 1990-91. Next up was Brendan Rodgers’ former squad and a former Liverpool player desperate to prove himself. Daniel Agger, by far the best defender on the roster, was out after picking up a knock in training. That meant a starting center back pairing of Martin Skrtel, the subject of transfer rumors all summer, and new signing Mamadou Sakho with the raw, unproven Andre Wisdom starting in place of the injured Glen Johnson.

The 2-2 draw was a pretty fair result. Liverpool’s midfield gave way to Swansea in the second half after Philippe Coutinho departed in the first half with an injured shoulder. It took everything the Reds had to hang on and scrape a point. Now, this doesn’t sound like a huge, momentum swinging moment until you consider some of the other results around the league.

Chelsea were defeated by Everton and Manchester City were held to a scoreless draw with Stoke City. Those are the kinds of results that traditionally prevent teams from winning the title come May. They’re the kinds of results Manchester United used to consistently escape while Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge. And speaking of Manchester United, they didn’t exactly look impressive against Crystal Palace before a red card late in the first half gave them new life. One month into the season, the EPL title race looks wide open with six legitimate contenders in both Manchesters, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, and even Tottenham. I’m even willing to give Everton an outside shot at the Top 4 this season.

Monday’s draw also comes at a great time for Liverpool. With no European competitions to distract, they can now focus solely on their next three opponents: Southampton, Sunderland, and Crystal Palace. Those are three very winnable matches for Brendan Rodgers and company. And that’s before I remind you that Luis Suarez is due back from his suspension in the middle of that stretch. With legitimate depth in his squad and a favorable schedule over the next couple weeks, Brendan Rodgers have a tremendous opportunity to firmly place Liverpool in the driver’s seat for not just a Top 4 finish, but an EPL title.

Granted, we don’t know the extent of Coutinho’s injury and the central midfield trio of Steven Gerrard, Lucas, and Jordan Henderson let Shelvey run through, over, and around them in the second half. Glen Johnson won’t be back for a little while and I don’t trust Wisdom as a suitable replacement.

Nevertheless, if Liverpool take off and win these next three matches to solidify a spot in the Top 4 before facing Arsenal in early November Monday’s draw can be the moment everyone looks back on as the moment they turned the corner and put themselves back in the spotlight. In the EPL marathon, every hard fought draw away from home against a “weaker opponent” (in the eyes of a title contender) is critical. Points must be taken at all costs, especially when your direct rivals drop them.

Sit tight Reds fan. The next couple months could be even better than the first one.


“Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone!”

Sep 052013

Obviously we all know about the big names, but you’d be surprised just how many good players completed transfers in the shadows of Gareth Bale and Mesut Özil.

Gareth Bale

The Welsh superstar completed his much talked about move from Tottenham to Real Madrid for a world record fee that comes out to approximately $132 million.

Mesut Özil

After spending all summer missing out on new signings, Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger landed perhaps the world’s most creative midfielder for a reported £42.5 ($66.25 million) transfer fee.


In an effort to fund their purchase of Gareth Bale, Real Madrid sold Brazilian midfielder Kaka back to Milan after purchasing him from the Serie A giants in 2009. He signs a two year deal with Milan.

Kevin Prince Boateng

The German international returns to the Bundesliga after completing a four year move from Milan to Schalke 04.

Samuel Eto’o

The Cameroon international is reunited with his former manager Jose Mourinho after signing a new one year deal with Chelsea from Russian side Anzhi Makhachakala.

Alessandro Matri

The Juventus forward completed a transfer to Milan and signed a four year deal.

Adem Ljajic

The Serbian forward completed a four year move from Fiorentina to Roma for a reported €11 million ($14.4 million) transfer fee.

Erik Lamela

And speaking of Roma, they sold the Argentinian winger to Tottenham for a reported €30 million ($39.9 million) transfer fee.

Christian Eriksen

Indeed, Spurs were incredibly busy this summer. They bought Ajax/Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen for a reported £11.5 million ($17.9 million) transfer fee.

Marouane Fellaini

The Belgian international turned out to be the only significant summer signing for new Manchester United manager David Moyes. Fellaini previously played for Moyes at Everton.

Geoffrey Kondogbia

The Sevilla defender joins Monaco for a reported €20 million ($26.2 million) fee and signs a five year deal with the Ligue 1 side.

Alessandro Diamanti

He’s not actually going anywhere, but Bologna made a huge splash signing him to a new five year extension.

Andrea Dossena

The veteran center back from Napoli completed a one year move to Sunderland in the English Premier League. He previously spent part of his career in England with Liverpool.

Romelu Lukaku

The Chelsea striker goes out on loan for the second year in a row. He joins Everton for the upcoming season.

Toby Alderweireld

The Dutch defender completed a permanent move from Ajax to Atletico Madrid.

Florian Thauvin

The French starlet was purchased by Lille from Bastia in January, loaned back to Bastia for the remainder of the season, and has now been sold to Marseille without having ever played a match for Lille. Thauvin factored in the French U-20 side that won the FIFA U-20 World Cup this summer.

Josua Guilavogui

The Saint Etienne midfielder completes a €10 million ($13 million) move to Atletico Madrid.

Ezequiel Schelotto

The 24 year old Inter midfielder joins Sassulo on loan for the upcoming season.

Jaroslav Plasil

The veteran Bordeaux/Czech Republic midfielder joins Catania on loan for the rest of the Serie A season.

Christian Atsu

The Ghana international was purchased by Chelsea from FC Porto and then subsequently loaned to Vitesse in the Netherlands.

Duvan Zapata

In an effort to replace the production of departed striker Edinson Cavani, Napoli signed former Estudiantes striker Duvan Zapata.

Mamadou Sakho

The former Paris-Saint Germain center back has completed a permanent move to Liverpool.

Tiago Ilori

The 20 year old Sporting Lisbon center back has also completed a move to Anfield.


The highly rated Portugal winger completed a €10 million ($13 million) move from Sporting Lisbon to Galatasaray.

Makoto Hasebe

The Japanese international completed a permanent move from Wolfsburg to Nurnberg.

Libor Kozak

The leading scorer in last year’s Europa League competition has completed a move from Lazio to Aston Villa.

Vlad Chiriches

The Romanian center back moves from Steaua Bucharest to Tottenham.

Emiliano Viviano

The Palermo goalkeeper joins Arsenal on loan for the entire season.

Marko Arnautovic

The Werder Bremen forward completed a permanent move to Stoke City.

Teemu Pukki

The Finland international completed a four year move from Schalke 04 to Celtic.

Alvaro Vasquez

The Getafe center forward joins Swansea on loan for the entire season.

James McCarthy

The former Wigan winger is reunited with Roberto Martinez as he completes a £13 million ($20 million) move to Everton.

Gareth Barry

The Manchester City holding midfielder joins Everton on loan for the entire season.

Fabio Borini

The Liverpool striker joins Sunderland on loan for the 2013-14 season.

Oussamma Assaidi

Assaidi also departs Anfield on loan and will suit up for Stoke City this season.

Angelo Henriquez

And last, but not least, Manchester United’s young striker joins Real Zaragoza on loan for the season.


Until next time!



Columbus Crew Coaching Candidates

 Posted by on September 3, 2013 at 9:02 pm  Blogs/Media, Columbus Crew, MLS, United States
Sep 032013

Hows that for alliteration?!

So the Crew have done what we all saw coming and cut Robert Warzycha loose. While it’s a great move for the organization, it’s not one I’m inclined to celebrate. I defended Warzycha much longer than most and only turned on him when he failed to get off to a better start this season. I thought he was the right man for the job due to the way he conducted himself and the way he ran his practices. Unfortunately, he just hasn’t turned out to be a very good coach. I feel bad for him. He has given so much to this team in its 18 years existence and just like that he’s no longer involved.

But there’s little time to dwell on that now because, while Brian Bliss has been outstanding as technical director, he is no head coach and the front office will definitely be exploring a variety of candidates. The list below is a list that I personally would like to see, regardless of how likely/unlikely he may be for the Crew.

You’ll notice a common trend among them: they aren’t former MLS coaches.

I don’t believe Jesse Marsch or Frank Yallop are what the Crew need. No former MLS coach is. This team has a new owner and is heading into a new era. A recycled MLS veteran is not the way to go. Yes, MLS transaction rules are more complex calculus, but that’s exactly why I’m making this list with the premise that Brian Bliss remains technical director. He is a great scout and he knows the rule book. Let him continue as a right hand man who molds the roster in the shape that the new head coach desires. If the candidate in question doesn’t get MLS rules, then Bliss steps in. It’s that simple.

So without further ado here’s my personal wishlist sorted by the likelihood the Crew signs them…

Marcelo Bielsa

The Argentine has made a name for himself coaching Argentina and Chile’s national teams, but he just saw his contract with Athletic Bilbao expire this summer and he needs a new place to go. His teams are incredibly fun to watch due to his unorthodox tactics and even with the current Crew roster he could produce a team that Columbus fans would turn out in droves to see on a regular basis. He’s used to coaching at an elite level and it’s highly unlikely he’d lower his standards to coach an MLS team, but I can still dream.

Chances The Crew Sign Him: 10%

“Lucky” Guus Hiddink

Much like Bielsa, the Dutch mastermind has made a name for himself overhauling national teams. He took South Korea deep into the knockout round at the 2002 World Cup and led Australia to the Round of 16 in the 2006 edition. He’s had some success at the club level too though. He took PSV Eindhoven deep into the knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League in 2004-05 and won the Dutch Eredivisie three times in four years. Just like Bielsa though, Hiddink is unlucky to consider MLS and they are just as unlikely to consider him.

Chances The Crew Sign Him: 10%

Znedek Zeman

Another high profile veteran of Europe, Zeman most recently managed AS Roma, the team for which US Men’s National team star Michael Bradley currently plays. He’s a big proponent of the 4-3-3 and isn’t very interested in defending, so his teams would be a ton of fun to watch as well. He spent a good chunk of his years in the second and third divisions of Italy so he’s not glued to the top of the talent pyramid.

Chances The Crew Sign Him: 12%

Eric Wynalda

Now we’re starting to get into more realistic choices. The former US Men’s National team star has been very outspoken about pretty much every aspect of US Soccer and is itching for a chance to prove himself in MLS, especially after he led an semi-pro team deep into the US Open Cup last year. He’s currently pulling double duty with Fox Soccer and the Atlanta Silverbacks. I like the fact that he’s so outspoken and he’s willing to try new things. He’d probably want so much control that Brian Bliss wouldn’t be able to return as technical director, but that’s a small price to pay. Ultimately I think even Anthony Precourt and his somewhat limited knowledge of the sport would be hesitant to hire someone who wants that kind of control.

Chances The Crew Sign Him: 33%

Brad Friedel

He’s currently in London backing up Hugo Lloris for Tottenham Hotspur, but he has his own academy up and running in Cleveland and he’s a former Crew player so this one makes a lot of sense. I’m not a huge fan of former players immediately joining the coaching ranks upon their retirement though. I’d like to see him put in a couple years full time with his academy before taking over in Columbus. That being said, I think he’s got a great mind for the game and I’d be pretty excited to see him sign up for the new era in Columbus.

Chances The Crew Sign Him: 45%

Brian Bliss

I like Brian Bliss. A lot. Yes, you can say he put together this less than stellar roster, but he’s also the guy who found Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Gino Padula and brought them to Columbus. He has overseen a very well stocked Crew academy that has produced the likes of Wil Trapp and Ben Speas. He has helped keep this team competitive on a shoestring budget year after year and I’ll be very interested to see what he does during his time as interim coach.

I also have a feeling the Crew will keep him on long term after this season. Anthony Precourt has spoken a lot about modeling this team after Sporting Kansas City. Well, they’ve put Peter Vermes in charge of everything as a “Sporting Director”; essentially pulling double duty as head coach and technical director. I could definitely see the Crew doing the same thing with Bliss.

Chances The Crew Sign Him: 65%

Guillermo Barros Schelotto

If Precourt has studied his history (and even if he has relied upon tweets from fans) he knows that this guy is the King of Columbus. Schelotto has already had tremendous success coaching Lanus in his native Argentina and that league is far more talented than MLS. Schelotto has also been very open and honest about his desire to return to MLS, specifically with Columbus. He has spoken at great length about how much he enjoyed living in Columbus as well.

This would be my first choice as long as Brian Bliss can be retained as technical director. Again, the head coach doesn’t have to worry about the financial hoops that need to be cleared to sign players in MLS as long as Bliss remains in his capacity as head scout. He can walk Guillermo through everything he needs to know.

Chances The Crew Sign Him: 57%

It really is impossible to tell which way the team is leaning. All I would ask is that they not turn to an old MLS coach. This team about to undergo some major re-branding and Jason Kreis (should RSL be dumb enough not to bring him back next season) doesn’t exactly scream “SEXY!”. I want to see this team look way outside the MLS box and get a guy who will play attractive soccer first and foremost. It’s clear that Warzycha’s direct, rigid approach hasn’t worked with this current squad so why not take the gloves off and go for an unorthodox tactician like Bielsa or Zeman?

Regardless, we’ll just have to sit back and watch what Brian Bliss can do for these final few games and who knows how long after that. Sit tight Crew fans. This could take a while.


Sep 022013

Well it took a little longer than I would’ve liked, but Liverpool got the defensive reinforcements they desperately needed; even before Kolo Toure and Sebastian Coates got hurt recently.

The club announced the signings of 20-year-old Sporting Lisbon center back Tiago Ilori and 23-year-old Paris-Saint Germain center back Mamadou Sakho. They’ve also brought in Chelsea winger/forward Victor Moses for a season long loan while simultaneously sending Fabio Borini to Sunderland on loan. The first two cost approximately €19 million ($25 million, £16 million) combined and will challenge fellow newcomer Kolo Toure once he is deemed fit to play again. Moses is a good loan signing (especially with Borini departing) but I’m not sure how much I like him long term with Brendan Rodgers having shored up his front line through summer signings Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas; not to mention youngsters like Raheem Sterling and Jordan Ibe.

The best bit of business, however, has to be the club’s ability to retain the services of Luis Suarez (who seems to be sorry for his recent behavior) and Daniel Agger. The former is still an elite goalscorer who will be needed when Daniel Sturridge eventually cools off. When all is said and done Brendan Rodgers can sit back and feel good about the business he’s done in last two transfer windows. All the piece are in place, and many of them appear to be clicking, especially after Sunday’s triumph against Manchester United.

Unfortunately, the rest of the English Premier League appears to have followed suit and brought in a number of impressive signings this summer; especially after the news from Monday’s transfer deadline. Chelsea brought back the greatest manager to ever patrol the touch lines at Stamford Bridge in Jose Mourinho. Manchester United have added the hard working Marouane Fellaini and (possibly, depending on what has transpired by the time you read this) Fabio Coentrao. Manchester City brought in the likes of Stevan Jovetic, Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, and Alvaro Negredo. Tottenham turned Gareth Bale into Christian Eriksen, Nacer Chadli, Roberto Soldado, Erik Lamela, Paulinho, and Etienne Capoue. Arsenal, as long as it took them, managed to reel in German playmaking sensation Mesut Özil. Even Everton (yeah, those guys) managed to scoop up Gareth Barry (loan), Romelu Lukaku (loan), Gerard Defelou, and James McCarthy.

The stature of England’s top flight was on full display at the end of Monday’s transfer deadline. Even teams like Sunderland, Southampton, and Swansea made some quiet additions that could turn some heads. Just when things were looking up for Liverpool after their victory on Sunday, the rest of their biggest competitors went out and made themselves even better. I do believe this roster, as currently constructed, is capable of earning a Champions League berth next season, but that task looks much more difficult than it did Monday morning.

Eventually Daniel Sturridge is going to stop scoring and the defense is going to concede goals. The Reds are off to a great start, but these reinforcements were really the bare minimum Brendan Rodgers needed if a Top 4 finish was the goal for this season. Manchester United are going to wake up, Tottenham will see a lot of their summer signings progress as the season goes on, and teams like Everton, Swansea, Sunderland, and Southampton will all challenge for the Top 4 throughout much of the season. Earning a Champions League spot will be more difficult than it has been for several years.

Here’s a look at the lineup I’d like to see once Suarez is back…


Johnson – Agger- Sakho – Cissokho

Gerrard – Lucas – Luis Alberto

Suarez – Sturridge – Aspas

Although it’s only been a couple weeks, I think it’s safe to say Sturridge is best deployed in a central position at the head of the attack and having a couple dribblers like Suarez and Aspas on either side of him should help free up space for him in the box. With the front line so well established, it looks like the only way to get Luis Alberto out there regularly is to have him occupy the third midfield spot with Steven Gerrard and Lucas, with Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen in the mix as well. As for the defense, you might as well throw the new guys out there and see what they’ve got. Sakho (and even Ilori) and Cissokho are better than Martin Skrtel and Jose Enrique respectively.

Again, Brendan Rodgers has just finished up what was pretty much the best possible summer he could have short of making Real Madrid truly fancy Luis Suarez over Gareth Bale and turning the windfall into five or six very good players as Spurs did. Unfortunately, the rest of the top half of the table made some good moves for their own and a Top 4 spot just became even more difficult than ever to achieve.

Either way, sit back and enjoy Liverpool fans. It looks like we’re finally going to see the Reds finally make a legitimate run at a return to European competition.

“Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone!”

Aug 292013

First things first, below are the links to everything that has been officially published…

The Original Massive Report Post

American Outlaws Response

Massive Report Response To American Outlaws Response

Okay good…

I moved to Columbus when I was in 5th grade and lived there until January 2011. I was at the USA-Mexico game in ’05 in the middle of the supporters section. I have not met any of the Massive Report guys in person. I have no personal connection to any of them.

So now you know exactly where I’m coming from.

I am completely and utterly disappointed at the timing of this whole thing. We’re a little less than two weeks from the USA-Mexico World Cup qualifier that will take place at Columbus Crew Stadium. This will be the fourth consecutive World Cup qualifying cycle that features the USA-Mexico fixture in Columbus. For those who may not be aware, the score of each of the three previous games was 2-0; hence the term “Dos A Cero” that gets thrown around.

This year the guys at Massive Report and the rest of the Columbus faithful have gone all out for a special tifo display for September’s showdown. The official hashtag being thrown around is “#tifosweat”. They’ve kept everything under wraps so far, but their enthusiasm has been utterly contagious and it has made me borderline depressed that I no longer Columbus home.

But I still identify with the community there as I was a permanent resident. That’s what makes this whole situation even more depressing than missing out on “#tifosweat”. There’s a lot of anti-Seattle sentiment around the American soccer community these days and much of it has to do with the attention the Seattle Sounders and their large home crowds get from those who follow the sport in the US. Seattle recently hosted a World Cup qualifier for the first time since the Sounders joined MLS and put on a very impressive show of support. This has led many people to believe this could potentially be the last time Columbus is afforded the opportunity to host the USA’s greatest rival in a World Cup qualifier. So you can understand why the Columbus representatives on the conference call that took place earlier this week would be defensive towards representatives from Seattle being on the call.

I’ll let you choose whom you choose to believe as to what transpired on the call. Both sides have confirmed there was a call, but that’s where the agreement stops. Regardless of what really transpired, I have to say that I’m incredibly bummed by the way this entire fiasco has painted Columbus in a negative light; mostly because the negative backlash is somewhat justified. As the Columbus representatives on the conference call, the Massive Report guys (or at least, the ones on the call itself) have spoken out for the greater Columbus community of US Soccer supporters; whether it was their intention to do so or not. The tone of Matt Goshert’s post smacks of desperation and I can’t say I blame him given the uncertainty of Columbus’s future as the unofficial home for the US Men’s National Team.

He states: “After witnessing the disorganized crowd support for the U.S. Men’s National Team match in Salt Lake City, American Outlaws leadership and the Seattle chapter collaborated and decided to use Seattle-based capos for every USMNT match no matter what city it’s being played in. This was the reason American Outlaws Seattle was on the call.”

The national leadership for American Outlaws responded with the following: “AO Seattle is not being tasked to take over the in-stadium experience for this or any future USMNT games outside Seattle. A Seattle takeover of tifo and singing at all USMNT games has never been the plan or intention and any reports of such are false.”

So we have Columbus accusing the national leadership of favoring Seattle and the national leadership denying such claims. Unfortunately, this means we ultimately have to until the game itself on September 10 (and the next home USMNT game after that) to find out if in fact the only capos at the game(s) are from Seattle; and we may not even get proof if that is case. All of this distracts from the game itself and what is sure to be an awesome tifo display. Both sides are responsible for such a distraction.

Not only that but, as I mentioned earlier, this whole situation has painted Columbus in a negative light. Many people outside of Columbus are inclined to believe the statement from AO’s national leadership and it’s hard to blame them. Columbus has every reason to be paranoid and fearful of losing their only chance to showcase their passion for the US Men’s National Team on the biggest stage outside of the World Cup itself. But by singling out Seattle and excusing the national leadership (and even the US Soccer Federation itself; they had a rep on the call) of favoritism, the Columbus supporters on this call have played right into the hands of those who would claim that Columbus is simply jealous they cannot attract the same volume of supporters as Seattle.

But Columbus isn’t entirely to blame in this. The leadership at American Outlaws would have done well to trust in the Columbus leadership to pull off a smooth performance from the supporters on game day. I understand their concerns over the record number of “supporter sections”, but that’s no reason to deny Columbus the opportunity to show they are capable of handling such a large crowd. In fact, the conference call and its subsequent aftermath has already planted seeds of doubt in the minds of the leadership at the US Soccer Federation; not to mention the rest of the US Soccer supporter community.

The bottom line is this: the minute Massive Report made this a “Columbus vs. Seattle” issue, they lost a lot of credibility with the supporters from the rest of the country. And the minute US Soccer decided to host this call and bring a US Soccer Federation rep on board, they made the folks in charge of the federation think twice about giving this game to Columbus again in the future.

But worse than that is the fact that all parties involved in this have distracted us from the buildup towards what will be a fantastic game in which it’s very likely the US will have the opportunity to clinch their World Cup spot; just as they did when I was there in 2005. There’s still time to right the ship though and I sincerely hope both sides immediately drop the issue and focus their attention back on the game itself.



Stuck In The Middle With Crew

 Posted by on August 25, 2013 at 5:27 pm  Blogs/Media, Columbus Crew, MLS, United States
Aug 252013

Warning: I’m going to sound like “that guy” throughout this post.

Saturday’s loss to Salt Lake was soul crushing and while Anthony Precourt continues to make a good first impression (more on that in a bit) I’m not sold that this off-season will result in rainbows and sunshine either.

I didn’t actually watch the game on Saturday, mostly because I’m already tired of watching the choppy MLS Live feed but also because I had an ominous feeling going into the game. We’ve known for a while now that this is not a very good team and I had little hope they were going to continue their hot streak at the home of the best team in MLS right now. To make matters worse, Federico Higuain picked up not one, but two yellow cards and will miss the next game against Seattle. After Saturday’s result, Columbus is 16th of 19 teams in the overall standings. While they’re still alive mathematically, there’s very little chance the playoffs are still a possibility at this point.

So what now?

As far as I’m concerned, these next couple months will be downright agonizing to watch. Yes, I’ll make an effort to continue watching the games left on the schedule, but there’s absolutely nothing left for this team to play for. Most of the younger players like Wil Trapp and Chad Barson have already gotten plenty of playing time at this point and we’re starting to figure out how good they are. Robert Warzycha is a lame duck coach and Mark McCullers appears to be a lame duck general manager. Anthony Precourt won’t rush into any major decisions and probably isn’t even thinking beyond the next game at this point, much less what he’s going to do in his first off-season as owner.

I almost wish the Crew were fighting relegation at this point, but even that wouldn’t do much as they are still 8 points ahead of third-to-last Toronto. There’s nothing to hold the players accountable for their effort at this point. Sure we’d all like to believe this is a sports movie and they’ll rally around the suspended Higuain to get some extra motivation and suddenly play really competitively the rest of the way, but this is real life. College players are worthless, so there’s nothing to be gained from tanking the season and trying to get a high draft pick. There are probably half a dozen guys on this roster who won’t be back next season which means another re-building makeover is pretty likely.

What do the players have to play for at this point? And why should we watch?

I know a lot of people are being propped up by the hope Anthony Precourt offers as a new owner. There is talk of a new logo, a possible second DP signing, and maybe even a new stadium. Everyone has their two cents worth about what should happen now. Personally, I’m still terrified Anthony Precourt is going to put former Chicago Fire executive Dave Greeley in charge. Check out the following quote from Peter Wilt, one of the biggest soccer fans in the business, when he was in charge at Chicago and they were negotiating with Greeley & Co. over the Fire’s deal with the Bears about sharing Solider Field…

“While most of the city and Bears representatives were polite, though a bit patronizing, Dave seemed bent on putting the Fire in its place with condescending comments. At one point during the meeting, Greeley’s relentless disparagement of soccer and the Fire forced AEG’s Bill Peterson and me to swear at him (as I recall, it began with an “f” and ended with a “u”), get up from the table and head for the door.

“Burke stopped us in the hall way, apologized for Greeley and convinced us to return to the table.”

Even after Greeley’s departure in 2010 (he was charge for just two years from 2008-2010) before the season was even over, we can all look around and see that the Fire are still an after thought in the third largest populated city in the nation. Greeley grew up in the “Old Boys Club” that is NFL executive leadership and he’s the last person Crew fans should want to see replacing Mark McCullers.

Again, I hate to be “that guy” but there are dark days ahead for Crew fans. Do not assume that just because there’s a new owner in town, things are suddenly going to take off this off-season. And don’t expect much from the team on the field either. This team is stuck in purgatory with a coach unable to light a fire under their asses. They will finish out this season by showing up, collecting their paycheck, and going home to try and make it to the off-season where many of the questions we all have will eventually be answered. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if Higuain looks around after this season and tells the front office he doesn’t want to be a part of whatever plans Precourt has for the immediate future.

For now, we’ll just have to settle for watching more mediocrity on the field and dozens of unanswered questions off of it.

Two Weeks Later…

 Posted by on August 25, 2013 at 4:52 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Liverpool
Aug 252013

Last week I tossed around some overreactions to Liverpool’s 1-0 victory against Stoke City. Saturday’s game against Aston Villa wound up being extremely similar to its predecessor.

Daniel Sturridge got a first half goal and Simon Mignolet came up big a couple times in the second half. I wouldn’t call them efficient, but both wins were certainly huge and seem to have given the entire team a huge confidence boost going forward. They’ll need it with Manchester United on tap for next Sunday.

In the meantime, however, it’s worth asking the question: Just how good is this team?

I’ve seen a lot of people throwing around Liverpool’s recent record without Luis Suarez and it seems plenty of fans are ready to permanently part ways with the polarizing Uruguayan. I’m not thrilled at that prospect. While he did convert it, Daniel Sturridge made his first half goal a lot more difficult than it needed to be. He’s a great steward for the starting striker spot in Brendan Rodgers’s 4-3-3 formation while Suarez serves his suspension, but I still remain unconvinced he can carry the load for an entire season. Suarez’s ruthless efficiency, as well as his ability to create for himself, is still very valuable as the Reds pursue a Top 4 finish this season.

Moving to the midfield, Philippe Coutinho has had two decent games but still looks like a man among boys in the center of the pitch. Jordan Henderson hasn’t taken the next step the way we all hope he will this season, but it’s still early on. Lucas has looked a bit sluggish too as Aston Villa had a little bit of success going straight down the middle of the pitch in the second half on Saturday.

As far as defense goes, Sebastian Coates’s season ending ACL injury seems to have finally conked Rodgers on the head and made him realize he needs to buy a center back before the transfer window closes. Aly Cissokho made his debut in a brief appearance as a substitute and looks capable of platooning with Jose Enrique at left back. Kolo Toure has held a couple target forwards (Peter Crouch, Christian Benteke) in check for these first two games, but he’ll really be tested by Robin van Persie next weekend.

I’m not trying to be a buzzkill or anything. Liverpool are off to their best start in years after winning their first two. While it’s true that great teams grind out results, no matter how ugly, when they aren’t at their best, but it’s disconcerting to see just two goals in as many games when there were plenty of more chances that could’ve been converted. That’s why Suarez is so desperately needed. Manchester United will show us just how good this team really is.

Until then, walk on with cautious optimism in your heart!


“Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone!”