Monday, October 13, 2014

Talking about the Crew rebrand, Kei Kamara signing, the electric comeback, and Ethan Finlay. Also, could the Crew lure LD out of retirement with Frankie Hejduk and Gregg Berhalter.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The New York Cosmos, who play in the NASL to not exactly remarkable crowds at Hofstra University's Soccer Stadium. Can not only reportedly afford to go after Roque Santa-Cruz, offering him from various reports $1 million to $2 million; But, can also afford to pay a transfer fee to get him out of his contract that runs with Malaga until 2016.

Meanwhile, a division higher in Major League Soccer at our club, whose revenue isn't amazing, but has to be better than renting out a mid-level university stadium with over 9,000 less seats... crickets on the forward front.

Not saying Roque Santa-Cruz would make sense at all, the focus isn't likely to ever be on a player that needs two years of a contract bought out. But, identify a target that will work in your system, put a serious offer on the table, attempt to make it into the playoffs. And then role that momentum into next year's re-brand. 

That hopefully will not be going on in the middle of a desert.

Or ride it out with injury-riddled Arrieta, and an inexperienced Bedell, and Schoenfeld. 

If the front office is okay with that route, I see the Crew missing out on the postseason again.

I'm sure some have saw this shout out. But, Fox's new show "Red Band Society," a drama about a group of kids in a hospital, has a character that sports a Columbus Crew shirt in the show preview.

Specifically, a Crew Union shirt, which isn't shabby publicity for one of the three core supporter groups of the Nordeck.

In the scene in question, it appears both kids played soccer and one has lost his leg to cancer, and the other is in the process of going through the same thing. 

Anyways, live and in living color at 2:03 in this YouTube video:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Mix Up isn't really with the Mix nixing of the deal. But, that Columbus, instead of focusing on real needs, is so desperate to go after US National team players that will likely give us little impact.
So the Columbus Crew offered U.S. National Team player Mix Diskerud $1 million dollars (or close to it), in a contract that hit a snag yesterday.
Mix currently makes around $300,000 dollars playing for Rosenborg in Norway.
The snag was rumored to be that Diskerud's dad/agent Paal Diskerud said his son "needs more money." Which really could be Mix's words too, because if Mix really wants to play in Columbus for $1 Million he would be like, "come on dad, this is what I want."
But, should Columbus of ever put themselves into this position? Seeing that the older Diskerud pulled his son allegedly out of a transfer with the Portland Timbers two years back? Both times Mix would've made exceedingly more money than he makes now.
Which means one of two things? Either the Diskerud's are crazy or Norway is so much better than Columbus, Ohio that one rather make $700,000 less to live there.
Hmm.. Hopefully Diskerud, during his time in Columbus with the US Nats, was able to see some area's away from the stadium; other than the Lowe's, Big Boy's, railroad, and the low income housing around stadia Crew. If he thought he would have to reside there, I would probably choose Norway too.
Either way, why are the Columbus Crew so keen on going after a Mix Diskerud or Sasha Klejistan?  Why can't we just offer $1 Million for some striker, somewhere, that can score goals. I can almost guarantee (if we still have scouts) that there is someone that for $1 million bucks, can come to America (were still the promised land, right?), and give us some goals. And no I'm not talking about Papadopoulous. I'm talking about a million for someone that has an upside, and will blossom here.
Sure, Diskerud would've been a nice look for a while. Maybe Klejistan, too. But, it's not like it's Altidore. It's really not Kaka, Villa, or Lampard. It's not a big name signing. Interest would've faded in a couple of weeks.
What doesn't fade is winning, and a good style of play. We need to insert players that win us games.
Not fawn over every mid-level US National teamer, throwing our script of needs to the way side when they come available, saying "woo, we had someone call us, a big time US National Team player," who didn't even make the World Cup squad. I.e. Sasha Klejistan.
Are we serious?
What's the big draw there? Klejistan has played for Chivas USA and Anderlecht, what's the big news here? What's the reason to leak that unless something comes from it?
It's big news if were attached to Gareth Bale, quite noteworthy even if nothing comes from it. But, Sasha Klejistan or Mix Diskerud inquire about the Crew? Woo. Massive club we are lol.
Look. What we need our a few no name strikers that can put some goals in the back of the net and have us win consistently again. What we don't need is an okay US National Team midfielder, that we try to fit everything around, and yet he isn't a striker nor can score us goals.
To be honest I'm not sure if either is worth $1 million, other than that US National Team by their name that makes them worth that to just MLS.
Sure it's nice that US National Team players are coming back to MLS. But, I hope the league isn't forcing teams to acquire them. The focus should be on playing good soccer and winning for every team, if a US National Teamer fits into that mix for a MLS club so be it. But, it's not going to always be the instant ingredient to success. It's just going to make you feel better for a while, until you miss the playoffs again because you have no one who can score!
When the Portland Timbers missed out on Mix Diskerud, they replaced him with the target of Diego Valeri. I would take a Valeri right now any day.
So hopefully the Crew go in a similar direction.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Columbus, Ohio area player Emmanuel Dapaa had 8 goals in 4 games at US Youth Soccer Championship
at U16 level this past week.

7.28.2014: Emmanuel Dapaa Should Be Crew Academy Target
By Ryan Kozlowski, Crewture Editor

Here's a signing the Columbus Crew should make in their backyard for the Youth Academy.

16 year old Emmanuel Dapaa, who plays for Ohio Premier out of Dublin, Ohio. A suburb just miles away from Crew Stadium.

Dapaa, a youngster who would be eligible to play for the United States (grew up here since three), Italy (was born there), or Ghana (parents are from there), was the leading goalscorer in the US Youth Soccer Championship (at all levels) with 8 goals. Oh, and he did that without playing the first game!

Eight goals in four games at the U16 National Championship isn't bad for a weeks work.

Also, Dapaa carried his side completely on his back. His impact was displayed the two times OPE matched up with the #1 ranked U16 side Baltimore Celtic.

The game Dapaa missed, A 4-1 loss to Baltimore Celtic to open the tournament for OPE, was a lot closer in the final when the two sides met again with Eman present.

In the rematch Dapaa, tied up the U16 final on a free kick, and kept OPE in the game for 110 minutes for a 1-1 result after extra time; but the Ohio Premier Eagles eventually succumbed 4-2 on PKs to the Celts.

Prior to Dapaa's breakout in this tournament, he had the 2013 Goal of the Year in US Youth Soccer. Also, a ridiculous 38 goals and 15 assists in his Ohio high school season last year, the most goals in 2013 in any Ohio High School Division. Eman also supposedly has had contact with Manchester United.

This past week, I saw Dapaa play twice. I filmed or produced 14 games from the U14 to U19 levels at the US Youth Soccer National Championships in Germantown, Maryland, 2 of Dapaa's. Dapaa was one of two or three players that really stood out for me.
Start at 2:21 (I filmed the flip celebration on his second goal, one of the better goals of this tournament):

Dapaa, and a similar striker for Baltimore Celtic, are who US Soccer should be fast tracking to the National Team. Also, a U-14 Striker Andrew Carleton.

Why go after German-Americans for the future, when there are Americans out there like Dapaa and Carleton (who is with the USMNT U14's) that could be focused on or groomed to be strikers that the National Team is missing.

Hopefully, since this is the US Youth Soccer National Championship, Dapaa is getting a look as well. Kids like this should be in MLS academies, until they can make the next steps to MLS and the USMNT.
Further, if the Crew don't know or care to get this kid in their backyard. They should probably just close their doors. Dapaa is an exciting player. If you're not interested in getting exciting strikers into your academy, and eventually on your first team, what's your business?

But, possibly it's not the Crew who don't want Dapaa, but Dapaa that doesn't want the Crew yet. According to a youth soccer parent, the Crew Academy, despite being free, isn't very attractive in the lower youth levels.
Eman is the real deal as they like to say. I've watched him play against my son's teams since roughly u12. Despite what you think, the best kids in Columbus/Ohio don't play for the Crew DA at the u-16 level. I can't comment on the older u-18 group because I haven't seen the kids over the last few years since my son is u-16 this year. I've watched the last 2 years of the Crew DA team play and know almost all the kids because my son has played or guest played with or against them...even the Crew Challenger ones that were brought in this November after their high school seasons ended. They seem to have made an impact and stabilized the team a bit although they are sitting in 3rd from last place in the table.

OP U-16 would handle the Crew DA pretty easily in my opinion. We'll never know though. In the U-15 age group Lesh's Blast team is far superior to anything the Crew has as well. You probably find this hard to believe but the top players in Ohio South aren't all clamoring to play DA for the Crew. Lot's of kids want to do multiple sports, play with and in front of friends in HS and maybe have steered clear for other reasons. I know a lot of unhappy Crew Pre-Academy families from the last year or two. Just for the record my son has never played Gold, Pre-Acad or DA but some of his ex-teammates have or still do.
If this comment was a shot on net, it would be right on target.

If Dapaa played for the Crew now he would have to give up high school soccer, high school basketball, and playing with the OP Eagles. All things he currently enjoys doing.

But, around 17 or 18, when he might need a few years of Major League Soccer before possibly jumping over to Europe, maybe then Dapaa makes the switch.

I doubt Eman is anywhere near as good at basketball as he is at soccer. If he also had LeBron potential that would be amusing, but I'm going to just go out on a limb and say he doesn't. So, eventually when it comes to a future, near graduation, he's going to have to seek out either the Columbus Crew or somewhere else.

If I was at Columbus Crew, or even my previous colleagues at Dayton Dutch Lions, where their whole money deal is (or was) trying to eventually sell kids to Europe to make money (and they have some connections overseas) I would be after this kid like Nick Saban after an Alabama blue chip. Hell, the kid was in the Columbus Dispatch for possible tryouts with Manchester United feeder clubs. What do you need to do to say "hello, I'm good over here?"

Does Dapaa need to score 10 goals in the US U16 Club Championship? Before you offer him and his entire family and friends free season tickets and access to anyone he wants. Either club should be bending over backward for this kid, because it's smart for business.

Even DDL, although MLS play is about 50 times more attractive than USL Pro obviously, could try to groom the kid for two more years, give him a year of USL Pro to dominate, then transfer him overseas. Or Columbus can give him a few years of MLS and do the same.

But, if OP Eagles are giving him the ability to be on the biggest stage at the U16 club level, and Columbus or Dayton cannot, then why move?

Either way, it still should be a priority of the Crew at that level.

Smart transfers are a good business model. The unheard of Giancarlo Gonzalez, when the Crew signed him, ended up being a World Cup defensive standout for Costa Rica. That was a smart transfer for Columbus; in for probably $250,000, out for possibly $5 million.

So would a kid like this in another way, as Dapaa has the potential in three or four years of being attractive to someone in Europe.

So, say the Columbus Crew lure him for free, four years down the road they could snag $4 million for him.

Yet, because most of the money goes to MLS MAIN when one of these transfers occur, I feel like there isn't as much of an emphasis on these two type of moves by MLS teams. Even if it helps the club for a couple of years on the field, do MLS teams get enough to do whatever it takes to grab these players? A greater free market economy in MLS, and more benefits for these moves (like getting 100% percent of the transfer) would lead to more growth and more ambitious owners in this league, doing everything in their power to get youth players like Dapaa and making more transfers like Giancarlo.

Either way, Crew or elsewhere, I think you'll hear more from this kid down the road.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

          Pic by Sam Greene/Columbus Dispatch

Player Profile- Not on the Radar, College Student Athlete Becomes Major League Soccer Starter
By Ryan Kozlowski
Crewture Editor

Josh Williams was very close from never receiving the opportunity to become a professional player.

The right back, who has become the senior member of the 2014 Columbus Crew with over 60 appearances, under normal circumstances would've never received the chance to impress.

An unexpected phone call and a decision to answer in 2010 changed that.

Williams was in a college class at Cleveland State, an unknown number called.

Could've been a telemarketer. A creditor. But, for some reason Williams answered. It was Crew's Coach Brian Bliss.

Bliss called Williams, out of the blue, in 2010.

Bliss was on the phone because he wanted to possibly sign Josh. Bliss wanted the unknown Josh to be ready to be a backup signing in a hour for Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew, if another deal fell through on deadline day.

One could only imagine Williams reaction crouched in his class room.

On most days.. Josh wouldn't have answered an unknown number in the middle of class, could of let it go to voice mail, and continued to listen to his Sport Management lecture that afternoon.

If he did the usual, not answer his phone in class, chances are Josh Williams wouldn't be a Major League Soccer player today.

Josh likely would've instead struggled to get a foot in the door of the management side of sports, where six figure salaries are reserved only for upper management.

But, in a stroke of good fortune a higher profile, overseas signing did fall through on that day.

One Kwaku Nyamekye who never kicked a ball professionally and is now a trade support analyst in oil. 

Appears that one worked out for Williams, the Crew, and perhaps even Kwaku.

Kwaku Nyamekye

Now Williams, who was at the first Crew game in 1996 as an 8 year old fan, has over 60 appearances for the club that he has always followed.

Josh often took the road less traveled to get there.

Josh could've played baseball at Division I colleges. He had full rides to Kentucky and West Virginia.

But, Josh wanted to play soccer and went to the only place that would give him the same opportunity, Cleveland State.

Most would not turn down a Kentucky Wildcat or Mountaineer uniform for a Horizon league one. But, Josh did.

Following a successful career at Cleveland State, Josh played lower division soccer with the Cleveland Internationals and received semi-chances with the Crew in reserve exhibitions.

That is how the Columbus Crew's Brian Bliss became accustomed with the hard working Williams, mainly because he was in the area and persistent.

When those chances occurred with Columbus reserves luck played a role with Williams. Injuries gave Williams an opportunity to get on the field.

At Cleveland State

And apparently that was enough to be a last second signing.

But, Bliss won't take full credit for the discovery of Williams.

"Josh wasn't really on our radar, but we knew him," Bliss recalls. "He did OK in those college games (with the Crew). His geographic location was a big part of it."

For the next four seasons, Josh has been a starter for the Columbus Crew.

Not bad for someone who wasn't on a team's radar.
Was only signed because another deal fell through.
He was geographically close.
And he picked up his phone.

            Pic by Sam Fahmi

Player Profile- The Confident, Acrobatic Steve Clark's Soccer Journey
By Ryan Kozlowski, Crewture Editor

In February 2010, Steve Clark was on his way to Norway with Honefoss BK, after his visa permit was denied to move to League One Bradford City and a Stabaek deal fizzled out.

England International Keeper, turned Bradford City goalkeeper coach Nigel Martyn at the time told Clark to "keep going."

"I believe in your training habits and instinct and ability."

Martyn, with 680 caps at Leeds United, Everton, and Crystal Palace, rated Clark. Clark took confidence from this.

Clark kept going, and found a home in Norway through what he was known for during his stay there, his American determination.

Clark set up, or rather engineered a trial himself.

"On Tuesday, I called Honefoss after hearing a deal with Stabaek's second choice goalkeeper fell through."

Clark was training at the time with Stabaek.

"So, I asked if they needed a goalkeeper and here we are."

England former international Nigel Martyn had 23 caps with the Three Lions.

This inner-confidence to seal a deal with Honefoss wasn't built completely by Martyn's words, but also from Clark's former stops; as Clark signed and didn't forget where he came from.

"I thank my coaches at Oakland University that helped give me the confidence to believe in myself."

Clark, as an All-American, led Oakland to two NCAA appearances.

"I also want to thank the Michigan Bucks ownership and coaches for everything they have done to help me get my first pro contract last year. My four years with the Bucks went a long way to prepare me for what life was going to be like in the real world having to go out and fight for a job in pro soccer.  I will always cherish my experience with the Bucks and will make them proud of me over here."

The Bucks goalkeeper, with over 75 appearances as a PDL regular season and playoff champion, did just that.

He helped Honefoss to promotion, and then his stellar goalkeeping kept Honefoss, expected to go straight back down, in the League.

Clark was named the Tippeligaen Goalkeeper of the Year in 2012.

"I think the way you get league Best XI is to not want to get league Best XI."

Clark's attitude and play has led to him being the best wherever he has played.

"You can't want something so badly or else you'll end up fearing failure on gameday.If you can compartmentalize your thoughts, you can make big gains in your game."

Clark, who played every game for Honefoss from 2011 to 2013, is making big gains in Major League Soccer so far with Columbus.

Will his 2014 lead to another BEST XI? Will a few years in MLS lead to bigger things?

"I've always dreamed of playing in the Bundesliga."

"I'll be the first one to tell you, I'm not at that level yet, but maybe in a couple years. Maybe not, but I'm certainly going to shoot for it."

I wouldn't count against Steve Clark.

But, first let's hope he leads Columbus to some playoff success.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

4.30.2014: Road Games Crucial For Columbus
By Ryan Kozlowski, Crewture Editor

The Columbus Crew started out the season with a surprise three wins. Gregg Berhalter was described as a new genius, an American special one.

Awe, you making me laugh Soccer America.

Since then, the Columbus Crew have puttered to 3 points out of a possible 12.

Surprisingly, in an inept East, that 12 points is good enough for first place. But, it shouldn't be good enough for Berhalter or his charges.

Out of those four games, three were at home.

One was a tactically bad 2-0 loss to a depleted Toronto FC (where most Toronto fans on forums were predicting a 3-nil defeat), one was a last second comeback tie with DC United at home (who Columbus dismantled a month prior away), and one was two points surrendered after a good start against New York Red Bull.

Two points, at home, out of the last nine isn't going to do it this year.

The Crew are surviving on their 9 out of 9 points from their first three outings.

They are in first place, but there's only four teams one point behind them.

And a couple more so-so performances on the road will finally see the Crew start dropping down the standings.

Good news is, so far in 2014 Columbus has been better on the road, picking up 7 out of their 9 road points.

These two road games will show a lot, whether Columbus will be a top team or find themselves just outside of the playoffs again.

Keys for Columbus:

1.) They need to get that crucial second goal, Columbus has won every game once they've put in a second goal.

The defense isn't solid enough yet to win 1-0 and minimize that one lapse in concentration on defense.

2.) Arrieta, Oduro need to get going offensively. Not just with penalty kicks.

3.) Columbus needs to win these two games and then stop saving it for the road. Columbus had the opportunity to give themselves a nice lead in the East at home, now they rely on road games to keep themselves near the top.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Oh you're the best US National Team player? Well...

Sunday, April 6, 2014

This picture is of Karolina, a beautiful reader of Maxim magazine. Apparently, you should stand at the magazine rack more often flipping through a Maxim. As all these ladies are readers.