Send us a message

Interested in being a part of the team? Get in touch with us today.
Nov 072013

And there you have it folks: Gregg Berhalter has been chosen to lead Columbus to the promised land!

Before we go any further, let’s get something out of the way. Some people are excited and some are not excited. Some people think this is a great hire while others think it is not. Ultimately, hindsight will prove some people right and some people wrong. In a situation like this, fans can only react to what they know. None of us know that three years from now the Crew front office is stacked with trophies and none of us know that three years from now Berhalter is out of the job after a disastrous tenure.

I completely understand some Crew fans wanting everyone to be upbeat and positive, but I can also understand some fans being distraught that other candidates, like Guillermo Barros Schelotto, were not selected. Schelotto was more than qualified for the job given his coaching record at Lanus in Argentina. I’m more upset a guy like Tab Ramos wasn’t chosen. Whatever. If some fans want to be upset, then let them. It doesn’t somehow make them less “loyal” fans just because they aren’t thrilled with the hire. Again, time will tell.

That being said, I’m one of those people who isn’t wild about the hire. I’ve softened my stance a bit now that I’ve had a day or two to reflect and let me emotions calm down, but I still have my reservations. There’s a lot to consider, so I’m going to make a “pros and cons” list, just like I did when Brian Bliss was named interim head coach and was being considered for the full time job. So let’s get to it…

Con: His record at Hammarby (Swedish second division)

Gregg Berhalter went 18-11-16 in 18 months with Swedish second division side Hammarby, who are based in the capital city of Stockholm. But more concerning was the fact that he was let go for a lack for what the team’s owner considered a lack of offense. According to data guru Larry Johnson over at Massive Report, Hammarby’s Goals For (GF) per game was 0.87 under Berhalter and is 1.41 since he left the team in June. Their Goals Against (GA) was 0.96 per game under Berhalter and 1.18 since he left.

For those of us who didn’t enjoy the “Goals Will Come” era, those numbers are hardly reassuring.

Pro: He has experience outside MLS

I was really hoping the team would look outside recycled MLS regulars like Frank Yallop and Jesse Marsch and pick someone with coaching experience outside MLS. Obviously Guillermo met that, but so did Tab Ramos as he has been coaching the US U-20 team over the last couple years.

Not only does Berhalter have coaching experience outside of MLS, but he also spent the majority of his playing career overseas as well. He has been exposed to a number of different teams and philosophies. Since he left Hammarby, he has been touring Europe learning even more about different teams’ systems and philosophies. He was unable to attend the teleconference for the announcement of his hiring because he was in Barcelona getting a tour of their facilities. More on this later.

Con: He has never been a head coach in MLS

This was always going to be a concern for anyone who wanted to see Guillermo or any other outside hires. Berhalter needs to get up to speed on the roster rules quickly and he needs to make sure his new Director of Soccer Operations is well versed in said rules as well. He’s got very little time to do so, so his  first hire will be crucial.

Pro: Data-driven

A lot is being made of Berhalter’s desire to use data and analytics to help shape the team going forward. If he’s committed to it, he’ll be the first to do so in MLS. It is encouraging to see someone who recognizes future trends and wants to study them in depth. I’m not a huge believer in analyics and crunching numbers when it comes to the sport of soccer, but it is still refreshing to see someone take such an unconventional approach to managing a team.

Con: He likes the current crop of players

Berhalter has apparently been watching over a dozen Crew games from this season since he formally interviewed in September and he claims there is a lot of promise on the current roster. I tend to disagree. Outside of guys like Federico Higuain, Wil Trapp, and Bernardo Anor I don’t see a ton of potential in this team. Jairo Arrieta took a huge step back and Dominic Oduro was playing for a new deal this season and could easily take next season off if the team decides to pay him. The young, recent draft picks like Justin Meram, Ethan Finlay, Ryan Finley, and Aaron Schoenfeld simply aren’t that talented. Homegrown guys like Ben Speas and Chad Barson show some promise going forward, but I was really hoping the new coach would say more about evaluating the roster rather than committing to the current group. I think now is the time to blow up the roster and start making serious changes, especially with two new teams joining the league in 2015.

Pro: He has full control

I get the feeling that, regardless of who was hired, Mark McCullers was always destined to quit the soccer side of things altogether after this season, but it’s still good that Berhalter will have full control of soccer operations. I do like that he has been wandering through Europe getting new ideas about not just coaching the first team, but shaping the entire organization down to the Academy and youth levels. This needed to happen regardless of who was chosen.

The Verdict

In the end, I’ve talked myself off the ledge a bit with regards to Gregg Berhalter being in charge of the Columbus Crew going forward. His record (and more importantly his GF/GA numbers) still terrifies me. To have a decent record overall, take the team from 12th to 4th, and STILL get fired mid-season because you weren’t scoring enough is a MASSIVE red flag. Again, we can only off of what we know and based on what we know about his time in Sweden I fear we are headed towards 2-3 more years of the “Goals Will Come” era.

That being said, I’m trying to be optimistic and get excited and I do find it extremely encouraging that he has spent his time off studying other teams around Europe. I’m also intrigued by his stated desire to approach the game from an analytical perspective. We are constantly being bombarded with quotes about how he has a plan and knows exactly what he wants to do going forward. But we should expect that of anyone who comes in to be Head Coach and Sporting Director.

(Side note: I can’t help but feel like Anthony Precourt has become a bit too enamored with Sporting Kansas City. There seem to be a lot of similarities between Berhalter and Peter Vermes with regards to their titles, responsibilities, style as players and general desired style of play as coaches.)

And so we venture forth into a new era in Columbus and hopefully good times and new trophies await us. I’ll continue to be wary of Berhalter’s previous coaching record, but I also look forward to seeing what he can do with a fresh start.

Here’s to a MASSIVE off-season!

Nov 082012

On a chilly night at Livestrong Sporting Park Sporting Kansas City found themselves winners in the night’s match yet not progress to the MLS Eastern Conference Finals as they were eliminated from the MLS Playoffs for the second consecutive season by the Houston Dynamo.

A disappointed team was venerated by the words of their coach Peter Vermes,”We did everything we could out there” and by those of the fans on the call-in radio show “The Final Whistle” on the local sport radio station voice of Sporting KC Sports Radio 810 WHB.

As the game fades into a look of what the team has done all season it comes down to the fact that Sporting Kansas City has the need of a proven goal scorer up top.

Stats back up the fact that while out shooting the opposition usually means that you would outscore the opposition the rate of conversion is too poor to overlook this point.

In the final match of the MLS season for Sporting KC only one goal was scored from  20 shots.  To say the least there is room for improvement over the off-season.

With injuries forcing out Paulo Nagamura and Julio Cesar a midfield of Roger Espinoza, Peterson Joseph, and Oriol Rosell graced the pitch at Livestrong which provided interesting results.

Espinoza had a real tough day at Houston on Sunday as he came back from a month out of action via injury. Thursday night he had a much better night as he tirelessly worked to earn back the ball for Sporting. Regardless of the positives he provided it was observed that his time out injured had disrupted his rhythm and with no word on a contract extension it can be expected that Espinoza has donned the Sporting shirt for the final time.

The brightest element for Sporting on a tough night was the impressive play by Spanish midfielder Rosell. Regardless with what he was asked to do he performed exceedingly well for a player who has seen limited playing time since arriving to Kansas City at the very end of the transfer window.

Going forward Sporting will look to add depth via the draft and  the transfer market knowing that they will need a few more players so as to be able to take on the CONCACAF Champions League in addition to defending the US Open Cup crown and regular MLS play.

It is time to go to the drawing board and figure out who needs to go.

Sep 282012

Sporting kc v opposition1 300x183 Sporting have a Chance To Secure Playoffs against rival ChicagoIn the long run for the MLS Supporters Shield, the only guarantee of hosting the MLS Cup Final under the new rules, the chances of making it are fading fast there can be a small redeeming factor in the beating of Kansas City’s rival Chicago.

Since 2007 Sporting has yet to defeat the Fire at home and that is a stain on a team’s reputation that says they to dominate the Eastern Conference. They seem to be a bogey team and they are looking to made the playoffs as well.

Out of the game are Teal Bunbury and Jacob Peterson due to injury and suspension respectively though a crucial member of the Fire’s line-up has cross the Atlantic since the last fixture, Guatemalan international Marco Pappa, who has joined Heerenveen of the Eredivisie.

Chicago has recently signed Guillermo Franco on a free transfer from Pachuca. While 35 he still has quality, though not of the always welcomed goal scoring kind. If he plays then Sporting will need their top Frenchman defender Aurelien Collin to take him head on.

Aside from players getting engaged, congrats Aurelien on that, Sporting entered their two game road trip with great anxiety but came away with four well deserved points against two teams in New York Red Bulls and Montreal Impact who are deeply involved in pushing for the playoffs.

The points gained will be crucial in this all important home fixture.  Currently Chicago sits a mere two points behind Sporting KC with a game in hand.  Talk about danger zone at Livestrong.

Not a good situation for Peter Vermes to be in.

Tonight is a must win so as to seal playoff spot and putting more distance between Sporting and the chasing teams.

Prediction: 1-0 Sporting off a Graham Zusi free-kick

Stoke City Preview

 Posted by on August 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm  MLS, Sporting KC, Stoke City
Aug 012012

All that can be said is “Bring on the Potters”.

Stoke City has been making a name for themselves as a tough nut to crack for Premier League sides ever since they reached this level starting in the 2008-09 season.  All reasons for their success can be credited to manager and proud Welshman Tony Pulis.

Pulis has been able to find talent that fits inside his tactical plan.  Not just that he finds the kind of players at modest prices which allow for his club to be successful as teams will pay more than they can afford after securing place in the Premier League for a few season.

That being said this Potters side is finishing their North American tour of their preseason and in terms of signings only Geoff Cameron has been brought in.  Not that I analyse teams in the Prem, due to my club being a division down, but that says to me that Pulis has what he needs to succeed tis upcoming season.

For Sporting KC this friendly means a chance to rest some starters as they face a road fixture at New England on Saturday but Peter Vermes will have an eye on the fixture now a week away in the US Open Cup final at Livestrong against the reigning champion Seattle Sounders.

What does this bode for the line up against Stoke City?

My spider senses are telling me that Vermes will be sending out a side that will be a deal stronger than the squad that was put out for the Montpellier friendly but with New England still being an unstable side, with the addition that club icon, DP, and captain Shalrie Joseph being traded to Chivas.  Picking up points on the road cannot be ignored.

Prediction: a lackluster 1-1 draw seems on the cards

Victory over Columbus

 Posted by on July 16, 2012 at 1:58 am  MLS, Sporting KC
Jul 162012

With a Teal Bunbury goal sealing the fifth road victory of the season for Sporting Kansas City Peter Vermes and company found themselves back on top of the Eastern Conference standings, mere days after sealing their place at Livestrong Sporting Park on August 8 for the US Open Cup Final.
The game was won early on by Jacob Peterson, who has done fantastic in place of the injured Bobby Convey, as he timed his run perfectly to put the nice through ball from Peterson Joseph away in the seventh minute to be the goal that was all that was needed.
Jacob Peterson was acquired from San Jose in the off-season for nothing, a move that is making Vermes look very savvy at digging up talent that has been discarded. At first was being used as just the first substitute to be used in a wing attacker on either side of the field but with Convey’s injury Peterson has made a case for keeping him in the starting 11 once Convey is cleared to resume playing.  In terms of scoring Convey has squat while Peterson has three, coming from his last six played, so all things point to the fact that due to his excellent performances that he will be keeping his spot on the starting 11 for the foreseeable future and that is fine by me.
When he was picked up I saw what he gave us, an extra player who would be useful off the bench and could be called upon to do a job playing the whole 90 minutes, nothing like the performances that he has done in recent weeks.
Back to the game, while it was a good start Columbus wasn’t a team that would just cower after conceding early and they came at Sporting KC for the remainder of the game.  Possession was drastically in favor of the Crew as was overall shots but the defense held their own until the 82nd minute when Bunbury sealed the victory.
Columbus was moving into the Kansas City sector when Kei Kamara took the ball away and took on a couple defenders to pass to his left to a streaking Bunbury who put the ball away to end the scoring at 2-0.
With this victory SKC has won three of its last four in all competitions as they continue to their road swing as they visit the new BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston as they take on the Dynamo.

Luke Sassano Waived Good Bye

 Posted by on June 29, 2012 at 6:47 pm  MLS, Sporting KC
Jun 292012

Sometimes it happens to good people, unlike the movies where Hollywood paints the perfect picture of bliss.
Luke Sassano has been waived by Sporting KC after coming from New York.
Having met him, very charming and polite, I feel for him and wish him all the best but Peter Vermes knows what he wants so Sassano is now gone which can only mean that now with the MLS transfer window open someone will be joining the club.
The question now is who.

2012 US Open Cup Quarterfinal Preview

 Posted by on June 26, 2012 at 8:02 pm  MLS, Sporting KC, US Open Cup
Jun 262012

Sporting Kansas City are on the cusp of taking on lower league opposition for the second time in this competition as they host the Dayton Dutch Lions of the USL Pro.
This time last season a team from this exact same division, the Richomond Kickers, arrived in town and surprised the team, after a lengthy weather delay, in the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup.
In the round of 32 of this year’s competition Orlando City of USL Pro came to Livestrong Sporting Park and went toe to toe with Sporting and left with a feeling of being hard done by of which was stated in their press release of the game on their website.
Dayton on the other hand is on the other side of the USL Pro table in comparison to Orlando City. Dayton is what Toronto FC currently is to their league, the cellar dweller. There is little chance for the team to progress this season in the league due to their position and number of games remaining.  Also the fact that Orlando has some deep pockets for their level on competition doesn’t hurt things none.
What does that mean?
That Dayton looks at this game as a chance to redeem themselves in their own eyes and possibly for the fans to have something to cheer about.  This makes them dangerous.
Sporting KC was just scalped 4-0 at the Philadelphia Union after playing Seattle on Wednesday and Toronto on Saturday.  They will be facing Chicago at home on Friday so there is no time to rest weary legs.  This is the moment for Sporting KC to show their depth and their determination.
Peter Vermes has talked about how this competition is a direct path to the CONCACAF Champions League, a competition that this club has not had a taste of since the re-branding of the competition and change up of how it is run and rewards those involved.
It seems like a good few years since the team was involved in the SuperLiga and a victory over Dayton will put Sporting in a position to win their first piece of serious silverware since the 2004 US Open Cup.  With what is riding on this game look for the players to come out the gate with the mentality that we haven’t forgotten last year.
Prediction: Sporting dominate every possible statistical category in a 2-0 victory

Physical Battle Ends In 1-1 Draw

 Posted by on June 21, 2012 at 8:17 am  MLS, Sporting KC
Jun 212012

There may be a budding rivalry here as a physically contested 1-1 was completed at CenturyLink Field.
Coming into the match Seattle had yet to win a league game in their last five and Sporting was looking to end a string of very poor performances against the team from the Pacific Northwest.
Well a point earned here was not everything that Peter Vermes has hoped for but the solid road draw will look to do wonders as Sporting is in the midst of a congested schedule.
The roster that was put out was by no means a standard starting 11 squad.  In fact three players made their league debut as one was also making his debut for the club.
Local boy Michael Thomas finally had his moment in the spot light as he made his first appearance in the senior team for Sporting, a not too bad of an appearance if truth be told as he played from start to finish.
Soony Saad, who has done well in the US Open Cup, held his own considering the immense pressure that the team was facing.
Peterson Joseph, in his first MLS start of the season, was not as up to scratch as had been anticipated, being substituted in the 50th minute.  He was unable to take on the pressure that the Sounders midfield put on him and Graham Zusi was called to replace Joseph early into the second half.
The young guns out of the way the overall performance of the squad against Seattle wasn’t as successful as had been anticipated.
Putting it mildly the Sounders were the more dominant side in this battle of two top teams and they showed it with their keeping of the ball and quality that they showed up top in making Jimmy Nielsen earn his wages minding the Sporting net.
In a surprise fashion KC scored thanks to Aurilen Collin’s back header Jacob Peterson’s half-volley over the Seattle keeper to give an early 1-0 lead in merely the eighth minute.
It was short lived as the Sounders scored right back a mere seven minutes later as Mauro Rosales free kick was banged home by a Patrick Ianni scissor kick.
For the remainder of the half and the rest of the match Sporting was struggling with the difficulty of regaining possession.
Sporting KC will come away from this better than Seattle who seemed at the end of the game to want to play dirty more so than a good clean game as Alvaro Fernandez was sent off for a rash challenge on Roger Espinoza.
Bring on the Union.  It couldn’t be a better time to play them in the league.

Toronto FC Brushed Aside

 Posted by on June 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm  MLS, Sporting KC
Jun 182012

Sporting Kansas City put Toronto FC to the sword as both teams returned to MLS action in a 2-0 win for the home side.
Coming into the match Toronto FC was under the new stewardship of Paul Mariner but the proverbial new manager bump was not there. Shoot their heads were only partly there. Fixing this club will be a difficult ask.
Sporting KC had many opportunities to run up the score on their overwhelmed opposition but were unable to do so.
It started with possession of the ball.
Sporting kept the ball away from TFC and the opportunities were drastically limited for the Canadian side.  The quality of possession was impressive as throughout the entirity of the match SKC were able to pick when to attack and when to merely probe the defense.
Sporting’s first goal was scored in the 18th minute by CJ Sapong on the volley after good passes from Jacob Peterson and and Chance Myers.  This gives him five goals on the season, tied with Kei Kamara for the team lead.
Toronto tried to push forward when they had the ball and during the match were able to have chances but while on paper they had a good number of shots they really were not considered of good quality and not really coming from times of possession when compared with that of KC.
In the 35th minute Julio Cesar scored off a Graham Zusi corner on the volley which needed extreme concentration. It gave Cesar his first goal of the 2012 season and eighth assist to Zusi who is tied for the lead in Major League Soccer.
While the goals stopped Sporting refused to stop their fast paced attack and over the remaining time 17 shots were let loose at the goal and the team kept their hardworking style going throughout the rest of the game.
Now Sporting KC travel to Seattle to play the Sounders before traveling across the US to play the Philadelphia Union.  For the next three weeks SKC will be playing two games a week. A dangerous stretch for the team but something that will properly test the depth that Peter Vermes has assembled.

Je suis de retour and Reserves lose

 Posted by on April 27, 2012 at 6:12 am  MLS, Sporting KC
Apr 272012

After an absence that has stretched the first two months of the regular season and the entire pre-season Haitian Peterson Joseph has returned to Sporting Kansas City.
The smoke screen was laid down by Peter Vermes who said that he was ‘dealing with personal problems’.
While that satisfyed most it didnt satisfy all.  Some members of the media dove deep enough to find out that it was in fact a death in the family that was keeping Joseph in Haiti.
The fact is that he has returned is almost like a new signing for a squad that will be looking at US Open Cup matches very soon which will test the depth of Sporting KC’s roster.

Speaking of tests the reserves had a game against the Colorado Rapids reserves at the Swope Park training facility in MLS Reserve League play.  Just like with the game on Saturday Sporting fell to their opposition by a score of 1-0.  The game’s only goal occuring very late in the second half.  Having just returned to the team Peterson Joseph came on as a second half substitute in his first appearance since the 2011 season ended.