Ed. Note: We’ve received hundreds of thousands of emails from our dozens of dedicated readers throughout the offseason all asking the same question: “What happened to Guillermo O’Rourke after he escaped the secret MLS black site last year and why didn’t he resume the weekly GCGBAG Power Rankings and can we send him money because he’s so clever and probably very handsome, too?” To the latter point, of course he’ll take your money. Just stop by the GCGBAG tailgate or buy literally anything in the Save The Crew shop. He’ll get the money.
As to the former, the truth is Guillermo never really escaped the MLS black site. I mean, yes he technically escaped, but his mind remained imprisoned, suppressing a Dark Knowledge. While that Dark Knowledge remains blocked away, we suspect it had something to do with the sinister plot to relocate the Crew that came to light shortly after his escape. Guillermo has undergone months of therapy since and while his mind has yet to fully recover — right now I’d say he’s around “New York Times Op-Ed Columnist” on the mental competency spectrum — the world cannot wait. And so now, against the guidance of every single medical and psychiatric professional we have consulted with in the continental United States, he is back on his bullshit.
A Note from Guillermo: We’re taking a fresh, new approach with the GCGBAG Power Rankings this season. And by “fresh” and “new,” we mean “shorter.” So without further ado, here’s this week’s GCGBAG Starting 11, largely based on an accumulation of data.
11. The Deft Touch of PSV
You, a small-minded rube, probably think it is not a great idea for PSV to release a public statement — the first directly attributed to Investor Operator Anthony Precourt since last fall — reaffirming its commitment to relocating to Austin. In the middle of the annual team-sponsored celebration for Crew season ticket holders. In Columbus.
“Wow, that’s extremely bad optics,” you might say, you sweet, simple summer child you.
Here’s why you’re wrong and this announcement is definitely not a ham-fisted desperation play.
10. Major League eSoccer
MLS is doing some thing with Twitch that we can only assume was pitched as a innovative new form of fan engagement that will disrupt the entire professional sports industry. True to form, the Crew front office seized the opportunity and announced they'd hold a FIFA tournament for fans to compete and earn the title of Official Crew Gamer. LOL of course that didn't happen. Instead, out of the blue, we get:
Look, we’re sure SKaMzZ is a great guy and a great gamer. All we're saying is Rick 'n Rick deserved a shot. They would've Rick rolled over the competition.
You’re damn right!
What's that!? Keep going!?
🎶Who is the man that can nutmeg through any man? (SANCH!) Can you dig it?
Who's the cat that’s quick to switch and danger all about the pitch? (SANCH!) Right on!
They say this cat Sanch is a bad motha - (SHUT YOUR MOUTH!) -- But I'm talkin' 'bout Sanch (THEN WE CAN DIG IT!)
He's a complicated man, but no one understands him like Berhalter (PEDRO SANCH!)🎶
A certain World’s Greatest Team just shit-pumped the competition -- winning all three games with a +5 goal differential -- to capture its second straight Charleston Challenge Cup. That’s right, the Crew's one step on the way to the Sextuple (heh, nice). For the uninitiated, that’s winning the Charleston Challenge Cup, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, MLS Supporters’ Shield, MLS Cup and the Trillium Cup, and saving the Crew, for which there will most definitely be a trophy presentation ceremony, in the same year.
7. Gregg Berhalter
Say what you will about his tactics or his tinkering with said tactics, but one thing’s for sure: Gregg can wear the hell out of a sweater. He also deserves credit for holding himself accountable to supporters and, of course, for his shared appreciation of the finer things — namely Josh Williams.
6. Cristian Martinez
The 20-year-old Panamanian has been the breakout star of the preseason, and not just because he chipped Brad Guzan from roughly a 800 yards out. Regular minutes have been hard to come by in his first two seasons, but he’s put in the work, brought that S-Cell count up and is ready to go all Super Saiyan on the league.
5. Steven Lenhart
The Massive Champion spoke at length with Massive Historian Steve Sirk (who you can support here) last week. It’s a colorful, wiiiiiiide-ranging interview chock full of quintessential insights like “playing against Chad Marshall was like playing against a Transformer” and it’s all outstanding. Of course, the Monocled One asked about Columbus supporters and Stevie did not disappoint.
“I thought they were awesome,” he says. “I thought they were the best fans in the world. They are so overly passionate. It’s like, ‘Don’t you care about your kids? Do you guys have families?’ I loved interacting with the fans. It was great. They knew more than I did, that’s for sure.”
Read "Love and Elbows with Steven Lenhart."
4. Bizness Metricks
Crew Director of Business Operations Andy Logname used the annual Supporters Summit to assure everyone he’s not inept. It is beyond us how the word “inept” could even creep into anyone’s vocabulary when talking about a dude whose on-the-job performance has been described as “like the captain of the Titanic lecturing passengers about how to avoid icebergs as the ship is sinking and the rich guy is escaping with all the lifeboats -- hoping to convince his rescuers to build him a new, more ‘vibrant’ Titanic.”
Anyway, Lonkhorn even went as far as to say that team marketing has increased significantly over the past few years. By no fault of their own, marketing is the only area where the “parallel paths” logic actually holds true. While Lagnaff and the Crew front office continue to invest in that new, low-visibility, anti-marketing marketing that’s so “in” with the kids right now, #SaveTheCrew has gathered more than 300 business allies and launched its own #FillTheFre ticket sales drive. How do you like dem metricks?
3. Gaston Sauro
We said it before and we'll say it again: GASTON SAURO IS A TREASURE AND WE MUST PROTECT HIM AT ANY COST!
2. The Nordecke Membership
We don't have to tell you that the Greater Columbus Golden Boys and Girls are the 2008 Columbus Crew of Columbus Crew supporters groups or that being able to identify yourself as a member provides more fulfillment than, frankly, anything else in your life. We feel the same way, but, we're also big fans of our fellow supporters groups. So, after a convening of Nordecke Leadership, we have decided to join with our brothers- and sisters-in-arms Crew Union, Hudson Street Hooligans, La Turbina Amarilla and Murderers' Row under one flag. Well of course we'll still have the GCGBAG flag, what we're talking about is just one Nordecke membership.
Membership items include the Member Scarf, symbolizing the unity of the 5 groups, a Nordecke car magnet, and membership card for discounts. Membership is $20. All dues go to supply funds for tailgates, TIFO, and Away Trips to support the Black and Gold.
Memberships can be purchased HERE.
We like the look of everything down there a lot:
Get your membership over at the Nordecke Shop now.
While PSV was busy texting “u up?” to Butler Shores Tuesday, the Ohio Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee voted in favor of a resolution to keep the Crew in Columbus (mad props to Jo Rodgers!). Then that bad boy went out on the Senate floor Wednesday, where it also received (drumroll) unanimous support. #SaveTheCrew is basically the only bipartisan issue in the state. That’s something any professional sports league commissioner and/or team investor operator should keep in mind when wondering how serious lawmakers are about, you know, enforcing laws on the books. But enough about ORC 9.67, let’s talk more about #SaveTheCrew. Did we mention the Community Kit reveal party on the Night Before Crewsmas Eve? Or about teaming up to support our friends at Community Refugee and Immigration Services?
Hell yeah guys. We can't wait to get back to Upping The Lads.
Guillermo O’Rourke is real-life, award-winning journalist and commentator. His book, Nine Lies: The Search for Crew Cat’s Killer still needs a publisher. Did you see something Good on line that should be featured in the next Starting 11? Tweet @gcgbag96 and let him know using the hashtag #DonGarberPeeTape.