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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.


Adam Uthe

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

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