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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!

Oct 202013

Now that the Columbus Crew are officially eliminated from the playoffs, we can finally stop doing dimwitted BASEketball playoff math and start focusing on the future of the team under their new ownership group.

Next Saturday’s final game of the 2013 season presents plenty of opportunities, even though the team isn’t going to the playoffs. New England will still have something to play for as their playoff fate has yet to be determined. They will be hungry for a win. This is a good thing and can provide a valuable experience for the younger players on this team. The biggest beneficiary is Wil Trapp, assuming Brian Bliss chooses to do what I’m proposing.

Let Wil Trapp take over for Federico Higuain as the team’s designated “playmaker”.

Saturday’s loss to New England full exposed Trapp’s greatness weakness: his strength or lack thereof. It’s easy to say he just needs to grow into his man body and hit the weight room and then he’ll be fit to play his holding midfield role. But Trapp’s best qualities actually make him a viable option as a traditional “No. 10″; a playmaker linking the forwards and the rest of the midfield. Obviously Higuain thrives in this role, but Trapp is only 20 and I think it’s worth giving him the responsibility of distributing next weekend against New England. He has great vision, he’s responsible on the ball, and his technical ability (first touch, dribbling, etc) might actually be second only to Higuain. We already know he’s struggling as a holding midfielder right now, so why not experiment and see what he’s capable of in a different position?

I’d love to see Bliss trot out one of these potential lineups…


Barson – Gehrig – Marshall – Hyland


Finlay          -          Speas


Schoenfeld     –     Finley



Barson – Gehrig – Marshall – Hyland

Tchani     –     George


Meram     –     Finley     –    Speas

The diamond 4-4-2 up top is probably more realistic since Bliss has little creativity with his tactics, though maybe he’ll change things up for the final game of the season. By all accounts, Kyle Hyland has had a decent season with the reserves as a left back and it’s worth trying to find out what he’s capable of against first team competition. I’m still not a huge fan of Aaron Schoenfeld, but his goal on Saturday earns him an encore in my eyes. The rest of these lineups (except for Marshall obviously) makes up the U-25 core of the team that’s essentially auditioning for their future with the team and possibly a new coach.

Unfortunately not even YouTube has a video of Wil Trapp highlights from his time with the US U-20 team at the World Cup this past summer, but possibly his best performance was as captain against France in the group stage. He had several decent shots from distance and did a great job providing a link between his fellow midfielders and the 3-man forward line that the US used throughout the tournament. I think if you put him behind a 3-man line of Meram-Finley-Speas you’d be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Something tells me we won’t see Trapp is such an advanced role, but I think it’s a position he is well suited for and there’s really only one way to find out for sure. I have absolutely no idea what to expect from a lineup perspective next weekend, but those are my two preferences. The team has managed to squander any potential from Justin Meram as a true winger and/or striker and Ryan Finley hasn’t had nearly enough playing time this season for us to determine his potential.

I really hope we’ll learn something new about Trapp next weekend, but who knows.

Jul 072013

Oh yeah, we’re doing this.

Columbus was robbed of a result against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Thursday night, but bounced back with a 1-0 victory over Portland Timbers on Sunday. Both games were pretty straight forward, so I thought it would be more fun (and productive) describe the results in Lord Of The Rings quotes.


Columbus Crew 1-2 Los Angeles Galaxy

-”One does not simply walk into Los Angeles and win. It’s black gates are guarded by more than just PRO Referees. There is evil there that does not suit up in white. The Great Don is ever watchful. It is a barren wasteland riddled with fire, ash, and dust. The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume. Not with 10,000 men could you do this. It is folly.” -Everyone

-”And you Robbie Keane. I give you the light of Sorin Stoica, our most beloved star. May he be a light for you in dark places, when you are trailing late in the game.” -Don Garber

-”Fool of a Sanchez! Throw yourself out next time and rid us of your stupidity (and temper)!” -Me

-Bruce Arena: “Do you know how the PRO Referees first came into being? They were students of the game once, taken by the dark powers, tortured and mutilated. A ruined and terrible form of life. Now…perfected. My fighting PRO Referees. Whom do you serve?”

Sorin Stoica: “Bruce Arena”

-”Look for my sign in the second half. In the 85th minute, look to the middle of the field.” -Sorin Stoica

-”We do not have the strength to fight both Robbie Keane AND Sorin Stoica!” -Andy Gruenebaum

-”I will take it! I will take the free kick that leads to our only goal. Though…I do not know who will finish it.” -Federico Higuain

-”If by set piece or from the run of play I can score a goal, I will. You have my head”-Bernardo Anor

Columbus Crew 1-0 Portland Timbers

-”Flogging Molly! The Flogging Molly are coming!” -90% of the crowd

-”Where is Konrad?? Where is my son?!” -Robert Warzycha

-”By all that you hold dear, on this good earth. I bid you: Stand! Men Of Columbus!” – Frankie Hejduk

-”It is in Aaron Schoenfeld we must place our hope.” -Robert Warzycha

-”You shall not pass!” – Matt Lampson

-”Oh yes. Word has reached my ears of this Guillermo, brother of Gustavo, and I tell you now: I will not bow to this ranger from the South!” -Robert Warzycha

-”I ask only for the ability to score goals!” -Aaron Schoenfeld

-”It’s a Trapp!” -Caleb Porter

(OK, OK that last one was Star Wars, but how could I not include it after Wil’s performance??)


Jun 302013


He’s not quite old enough to drink, but Wil Trapp can help the Columbus Crew find success this season.

The Columbus Crew signed Trapp, one of their Academy graduates, to a Homegrown deal in the offseason. Unfortunately, he has spent much time with the Crew organization. He has been competing for his country as he represented the United States U-20 squad in the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Trapp started all three of the US’s group games as a central midfielder and even wore the captain’s armband for one. His performance was simply average. He didn’t blow anyone away, but he also wasn’t terrible enough to lose his starting spot either.

Still, the youngster has a golden opportunity to help get the senior Crew team back on track.

The Crew just lost 3-2 away to Kansas City after scoring game-tying goals twice in the second half only to see their effort go unrewarded in the end. The entire organization appears to be wilting under the heat of a fan base that expected a much better start to the season. There are whispers of players questioning head coach Robert Warzycha and his rigid tactics/team selections. He is in the final year of his contract and his future with the team is unknown. The team continues to be the subject of rumors concerning player movement as the international transfer window opens. Such whispers persist, despite the front office reiterating that the team does not have the salary cap space to make a big move.

But the team does not need to look beyond their walls for help; they have it in the form of one of their Homegrown signings from this off-season. Trapp offers them a solution to one of their biggest issues: central midfield. Danny O’Rourke may be needed in central defense, Matias Sanchez has a temper that has already landed him a one game suspension due to yellow card accumulation. Tony Tchani and Konrad Warzycha leave a lot to be desired. Trapp, however, is a natural central midfielder. He is very comfortable on the ball for a player his age and is an excellent distributor who can also shoot from distance when needed.

Perhaps more important than his tactical fit into Warzycha’s preferred 4-4-1-1 formation is his work ethic. There was a point before the US U-20 team began their preparations for the World Cup in Turkey when Trapp came back to Columbus. Rather than take the  next day off after landing in Ohio very late the night before, he chose to train with the first team. He is mature and professional beyond his years. He knows exactly what it will take to earn a spot in the first team. Unlike many of his teammates, he is also too young to let his attitude be influenced by the coaching staff. Despite dressing with the first team occasionally, his age puts him at the bottom of the food chain. He has no choice but to completely set aside any sort of positive or negative feelings towards Robert Warzycha and, to a certain extent, the rest of the team. He will come in and work his ass off and he’ll do it without a single word coming out of his mouth. Because that’s the only way he’s getting playing time this year.

That is exactly the sort of influence this teams right now. They need something (or in this case someone) who can make them forget about all the recent poor results and the well documented shortcomings of their current head coach. Wil Trapp can help push this team through the adversity they are facing. He’ll make the guys around him work that extra little bit; after all, who wants to look lazy next to a kid who can’t buy himself a beer yet.

Whether or not Warzycha is willing to use Trapp upon his return from Turkey is unclear, but Trapp nearly earned his first appearance about a month ago when he was called up to the touch line to replace a shaken up Matias Sanchez, only to be waved off by the feisty Argentine.

Let’s hope that Warzycha can get at least ONE thing right and give this young man an opportunity to shine.

And while we’re dreaming, this formation would be ideal…


Williams – Marshall – Gehrig – Wahl


Higuain – Trapp

Oduro – Arrieta – Meram

Despite his temper, Sanchez is still the bulldog who dispossesses the opposing team so he needs to be tucked in behind Higuain and Trapp. Trapp has the technical ability to not only setup a three-man front line, but also to combine with the venerable Higuain in midfield. Justin Meram has the creative instincts to play out wide in a three-man forward line and Arrieta is the ideal point man in the middle.

This formation may be unconventional, but that doesn’t mean playing Trapp has to be. Time will tell if Warzycha decides to shake things up.

May 202013

Let’s lay a few ground rules before we get this underway…

-The real U-23 squads in the US Open Cup (Portland, Seattle, Orlando, New York) are NOT professionals who also happen to be on the senior roster of their respective teams. I’m breaking that rule for Columbus.

-Unfortunately, there aren’t enough players 23 or younger on the Crew to fill an 18 man gameday roster.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a look at what the Crew have to work with. This exercise was inspired by the lack of creativity and ingenuity shown by Robert Warzycha, even when faced with a growing injury list.

Goalkeepers (2): Matt Lampson (23), Daniel Withrow (22)

Defenders (4): Chad Barson (22), Drew Beckie (22) , Kyle Hyland (22), Kevan George (23)

Midfielders (4): Wil Trapp (20), Shawn Sloan (22), Ben Speas (22), Ethan Finlay (22)

Forwards (3): Aaron Horton (21), Aaron Schoenfeld (23), Ryan Finley (22)

I know, I know…it’s going to be tough just to fill out a lineup. But what kind of fake coach would I be if I couldn’t mold this short handed bunch into a US Open Cup contender.

So what’s my starting formation? Have a look…


Barson – Beckie – George – Hyland


Speas               –               Finlay


Schoenfeld  -  Finley

Matt Lampson is the easiest selection here and thankfully he has a decent backup in Marshall product Daniel Withrow. Homegrown signing Chad Barson is capable of playing on the right or in the middle, but Drew Beckie and Kevan George are more physically imposing and thus better suited for the center back pairing. Kyle Hyland already has a couple assists from the left side of the backline; the senior team’s most short handed position. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to trot him out there if Agustin Viana is out long term and Tyson Wahl doesn’t improve.

We know all about each wide midfielder, but Wil Trapp and Shawn Sloan haven’t been seen as much. Trapp is an excellent tactical fit as a holding midfielder. He’s calm, cool, and collected on the ball and is a good passer out of the back. Unfortunately, he may get run over with his diminutive stature. He’s only 20 though, so maybe he can squeeze in another inch or two in height. Shawn Sloan has played all over the midfield throughout his high school/college career, but he managed to scored 58 goals and serve 40 assists in high school. He also had seven assists as a junior in college and ten in his senior year so he’s more than capable of distributing.

And thankfully, he has two very stellar forwards to whom he can distribute. Ryan Finley is a clinical finisher with his head and both feet while Aaron Schoenfeld has already shown us (in limited first team action) that he can hang with MLS defenders.

So how will this side fair in the US Open Cup?

Here’s what the bracket looks like:

So the U-23 Crew will get the winner of Dayton Dutch Lions and Dearborn Stars SC. Even though Dearborn pulled off a shocker over the USL’s Michigan Bucks, I still like Dayton Dutch Lions to win and set up the revenge match. Several guys on this squad have been on the fringe with the first team and most of the others have impressed in the Reserve League.

Crew U-23 2-1 Dayton Dutch Lions

Crew U-23 goals: Finley & Speas

On to the next one! Assuming this is the real bracket (I don’t know if the pairings are 100% accurate) the Crew U-23 team gets a date with the winner of the LA Galaxy and Carolina Dynamo/Carolina Railhawks. Even if the Galaxy take this one off, I still like them to get past the winner of the Carolina duel.

Crew U-23 1-2 LA Galaxy

Crew U-23 goal: Finley

Unfortunately this would be the worst possible draw for the Crew if it held up; especially if the U-23 squad has to go on the road to California. Even the scrubs at LA Galaxy have enough to beat this Crew U-23 side, but it would be a very close match. With a better draw this team would be more than capable of advancing to the quarterfinals over a “senior” MLS side (depending on who takes it seriously).

So even though the lads in black and yellow couldn’t break through to the quarterfinals, they’ve still shown us that Robert Warzycha has plenty of options in his back pocket that he will no doubt waste. Ryan Finley is the best (aka most MLS ready) player on this squad with Ben Speas right behind him. I really want to see what Chad Barson and Drew Beckie can do in defense. Beckie’s college highlights were solid and he showed Josh Williams-type athleticism. When Wil Trapp finally gets back from his national team duties, he’ll be well seasoned and hungry to prove himself. He’s already told his travel days off between USMNT U-20 and Crew duties to eff-off so we know he’s a hard worker.

Thoughts? Agree or disagree?



Columbus Crew 2013 Season Outlook

 Posted by on February 27, 2013 at 10:08 pm  Blogs/Media, Columbus Crew, MLS, United States
Feb 272013

Crewsmas Eve is fast approaching!

I’ve talked defense. I’ve talked midfield. I’ve talked forwards. Now it’s time to figure out how things will play out.

Robert Warzycha’s Projected Starting XI


Williams – Marshall – Glauber – Wahl

Sanchez – Viana

Oduro – Higuain – Gaven


This is the Starting XI that Warzycha trotted out against Montreal and so you would assume this is what he wants for Saturday night against Chivas. It makes a lot of sense and it’s a very safe bet. With two midfielders cleaning up in front of the back four, the Crew can play the kind of conservative game that Warzycha loves so much. The X Factor is Oduro out wide on the right. The sooner he can adjust to playing as a wide midfielder, the better.

My Starting XI


Williams – Marshall – Glauber – Wahl


Gaven – Meram


Oduro- Arrieta

This team’s strength is its plethora of options up top. As much as I hate to have Higuain drop back into a midfield role, I’d rather see Oduro deployed ahead of him as a true striker. With two true strikers, Higuain can play more of a “trequartista” role and I think that’s ultimately better than having him as, for all intents and purposes, a second forward. I think this is Meram’s year to shine. He’s got the dribbling skills and long distance shooting skills to be a good wide midfielder.

Team MVP

This is Higuain’s team. As he goes, so goes the Crew’s season. Last season Arrieta was more valuable because he was Higuain’s only option up top. With the addition of Oduro and Ryan Finley’s excellent preseason, Arrieta has less pressure to be the top, true goalscorer.

Breakout Star

You’ve heard me babble about Matias Sanchez…and I’m going to continue doing so. He’s the ideal central midfielder Columbus has always lacked and his big game experience will be invaluable. The 25 year old Argentine will draw a lot of raised eyebrows with his performance this season.

Youngster Of The Year

I like Wil Trapp a lot, but unfortunately he’s still a year or two away. Drew Beckie, however, is ready to go. I think we’ll see some better than expected performances from him off the bench at all three spots along the back line. His athleticism cannot be understated and he’ll learn to pass out of the back as the season goes on.


As with last season, August will prove to be the toughest month of the year. Columbus travels to New York, Seattle, and Toronto while hosting Houston and Real Salt Lake. The key will be getting off to a hot start and staying at the top of the Eastern Conference throughout the first couple months. Luckily, the first two games of the season (away to Chivas and home against Vancouver) offer Columbus a very easy six points. Seven of their eight matches in April and May will come against Eastern Conference opponents. If the team is going to do well, they’ll need to start much faster than last season.


This team WILL make the playoffs. I don’t know who they kick out of last year’s field, but this team has what it takes. As long as the defense holds up, the additions of Oduro and Finley will take the pressure off Arrieta to be the only goal-scoring option. Think about how much the Crew have struggled to score in the past. If Oduro and Finley can tally just 5-6 goals each, it will go a long way towards helping the team outscore its opponents on night’s when the defense is struggling.

Expect MASSIVE things from Columbus this season!


Feb 262013

The 2013 Columbus midfielder remains largely unchanged. Milovan Mirosevic has returned to Chile, but in comes 25 year old Argentine Matias Sanchez. He doesn’t stuff the stat sheet and he doesn’t dazzle with his passing or shooting. No, the value of Matias Sanchez is hardly quantifiable. Sanchez won the 2007 U-20 World Cup in Argentina and participated in the 2009 Copa Libertadores tournament with Argentina’s Estudiantes; his club for the past four years. He’s comfortable playing in big spots and he does the little things well. He’s comfortable on the ball, makes smart decisions, and rarely turns the ball over in bad spots.

In addition to Sanchez, the Crew also brought in Academy product Wil Trapp on a Homegrown deal. Trapp is currently trying to help the US U-20 team qualify for this season’s U-20 World Cup. I wrote about Trapp right after he was signed having watched him play ever since he was a freshman in high school. He’s very similar to Sanchez in that he is very comfortable on the ball and makes few mistakes distributing out of the midfield.

Out wide, Dilly Duka is gone but Justin Meram and Eddie Gaven remain excellent options on the midfield flanks as well as Bernardo Anor and Ethan Finlay. Tony Tchani and Kevan George are great backup holding midfielders for Danny O’Rourke, Matias Sanchez, and possibly Agustin Viana. Ben Speas is back after missing almost the entire 2012 season with an abdominal injury.

Here’s a quick individual breakdown…

Matias Sanchez

Plenty of big game and experience has made Sanchez very comfortable on the ball in midfield. He’s a great option as a holding midfielder to along with O’Rourke and Viana.

Wil Trapp

A younger version of Sanchez, Trapp is hoping to get some big game experience of his own with the US U-20 team in this summer’s U-20 World Cup. He won’t start right away, but I think it would be a good idea to have him on the bench on a regular basis.

Eddie Gaven

The oldest 26 year old ever, Gaven is a timeless wonder at the wide right midfield spot. He’s got a strong shot from distance and makes great runs in from the flank.

Justin Meram

With the departure of Duka, I’d like to see Meram get the start at the wide left midfield spot. He’s a great dribbler with an even better shot, but he hasn’t played well consistently enough to earn that starting spot.

Bernardo Anor

Although he’s always hurt, Anor still has great pace and is a good fit out wide on the left either in the midfield or as a left back.

Tony Tchani

At six feet, four inches Tchani is a man among boys in the midfield. He’s not the best passer, but he’s great at dispossessing opposing playmakers before they can get to the backline.

Kevan George

He may not be on the bench every match, but he’s also a solid holding midfielder.

Ethan Finlay

With an influx of forwards, Finlay will likely be utilized as a wide midfielder on either side. He was very inconsistent in 2012, but he can still provide a great spark for 15-20 minutes off the bench late in games.

Ben Speas

Now that he’s presumably 100% healthy, great things will be expected of the Crew Academy attacking midfielder out of North Carolina. Having seen so little of him last year, he’s a bit of a wild card.


The midfield remains young and largely unchanged, but there’s still plenty of talent here. Central midfielders like Speas, Sanchez, Tchani, and Trapp will be expected to shoulder more defensive responsibility thanks to Federico Higuain pulling the strings from up top. And speaking of forwards, we’ll break them all down next!



Keep Calm And Be Patient

 Posted by on January 21, 2013 at 9:58 pm  Blogs/Media, Columbus Crew, MLS, United States
Jan 212013

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Columbus Crew have had a tumultuous off-season.

First Guillermo Barros Schelotto left after butting heads with Robert Warzycha. Right behind him went Frankie Hejduk and Gino Padula. Fast forward to 2013 and we’ve seen Sebastian Miranda, Julius James, Carlos Mendes, Rich Balchan, and now Milovan Mirosevic all depart Columbus. Dilly Duka is one properly filed trade away from being gone as well. It’s not just bodies the Crew are losing; these are all quality players.

But unlike most Crew fans right now, I am NOT ready to panic.

It is certainly disconcerting to see so few players on the roster as training camp opens. However, the new faces in camp ought to make Crew fans pick their heads up. Tyson Wahl is a defender with a wealth of MLS experience. He’s also flexible in terms of what position he can play. The same can be said for second round draft pick Drew Beckie. The Canadian defender might just be the most intriguing prospect coming out of this roller coaster off-season. He’s incredibly athletic and has big game experience having played for Canada’s U-23 that attempted to qualify for the Olympics. Ryan Finley is widely regarded as the best finisher coming out of college and it’s hard to argue given he scored 56 goals in 78 career matches at Duke and Notre Dame. I’ve written about Wil Trapp’s ball control and the only knock on Chad Barson is his height. It’s a lot of new pieces, but if anyone has earned the benefit of the doubt it’s Brian Bliss.

Which brings me to my next point. A lot of people say it is time for Robert Warzycha to go. On the one hand, the team’s record has gotten progressively worse since the Polish international took over for Sigi Schmid after 2008′s title winning season. But he’s also managed to make the playoffs in each of those subsequent season with the exception of 2012 and had Houston been placed in the Western Conference where they belong, the Crew would’ve made the Wild Card round. This despite all of the departures I mentioned earlier. Remember how bleak things looked this time last year?

And STILL we came THIS CLOSE to making the playoffs!

Yes, it looks bad that Robert Warzycha is ready to cut ties with US U-23 star Dilly Duka. But Warzycha and Brian Bliss value team cohesion and chemistry more than anything else. They believe the team is far more important than the individual. Duka made it quite clear last season how unhappy he had become, so Warzycha and Bliss have decided to cut him loose. Both have all but accused Duka of being unprofessional. Given how professional those two men are, I am inclined to believe them and give them the benefit of the doubt. They are all business and they want all of their players to have the same attitude. Which is why we’ll never the Columbus Crew picking first overall in the MLS Superdraft. What they lack in overall talent, they make up for with work ethic. It’s not necessarily a culture of winning, but it is one of a blue collar attitude that is so often missing in sports these days.

You don’t have to look far to see just how fortunate we are to have men like Bliss and Warzycha in charge. Toronto FC still don’t seem to know which direction they’re headed. New York can’t figure out who’s going to coach this season. Chivas USA don’t have an identity despite always proclaiming they have an identity. The president at FC Dallas could possibly wind up in jail. Sporting KC lost their stadium sponsor. Things can ALWAYS be worse.

So take heart Crew fans! Bliss and Co. aren’t done rounding out the roster just yet. If Dominic Oduro winds up being on the other end of the Duka trade, it just means the Crew have one more proven MLS goal scorer. And if the rumors of Matias Sanchez arriving are true, Columbus will have stolen yet another Argentinian secret weapon. There’s still hope. It’s still early. We’ve only just finished Day 1 of training camp. Bliss, Warzycha, and Mark McCullers have a vision. A vision they are so confident about, McCullers went so far as to say he believes this team can win the Eastern Conference in 2013. Sounds like a pipe dream, but how often does the ever political McCullers make such bold statements?

Let’s wait and see…




Dec 162012

Brian Bliss has done it again!

19 year old Wil Trapp has signed a Homegrown Player deal with the Columbus Crew and will not return to Akron for his junior year.

You might be wondering why I’m so excited about a 19 year old prospect who has yet to lace up his practice boots for the Crew. It’s because I have seen Wil Trapp play in person half a dozen times. He is the same age as my younger brother and the two squared off six times the past 5 years or so.

What struck me the most about Trapp when I saw him play was his first touch. This kid keeps the ball glued to his feet at all times. The high school soccer scene isn’t much to look at these days, but Trapp was still head and shoulders above any other player on the field at any given time. When I watched him play I would think to myself “Shouldn’t he be down in Bradenton (home of the USA academy)??” Trapp has featured for his team a couple times already at the youth level.

A former national high school player of the year, the Gahanna Lincoln product is capable of playing almost anywhere in the midfield. Whenever I saw him play he was usually deployed as a holding midfielder. Sometimes it was out of necessity. Sometimes it was done to protect the opposing team. Trapp’s ball skills were so advanced for his age in high school that I’m quite confident he was capable of dribbling down the middle of the field by himself and scoring. He didn’t display it often, but he did have the ability to pick out just about any of his teammates at any given time.

I haven’t watched him at Akron at all, but he left a  lasting impression on me when he battled with my brother in high school. I think Crew fans are going to be pleasantly surprised, especially if the youngster can get some first team appearances this upcoming season. The team could certainly use some help in the center of the midfield.

So get excited Crew fans. The team has just completed a signing for the future. Now just sit back and watch.