GCGBAG Starting 11: Week 4

Thoughtful analysis and commentary about The Columbus Crew and Major League Soccer, largely based on an accumulation of data.

 

11. LA Galaxy Are Only Mostly Dead

Things have not been going to great for the LA Galaxy. It's bad enough that they're coming off their worst season in recent memory. Now, Don Garber looks ready to dump them for their sexy younger sister the Los Angeles Football Craft and they have to watch Gyasi Zardes score 20+ goals and lead the Crew to a 33-0-1 record this season. On top of that They've been inundated with injuries (and suspensions) throughout the first three weeks of the campaign, but fortunately they're approaching the sweet reprieve of the international break. Oh wait...* 

UPDATE: Looks like the Galaxy are getting ZLATAN.

*This paragraph is best read with a the world’s tiniest violin playing in the background. 

 

10. Kings of the South

Look, we tip our hard hats to Atlanta United. They earned a playoff spot in their first season and have been routinely packing 50,000-plus screaming fans into “Megatron’s Butthole.” Atlanta’s been a terrific success story for MLS, and we’d swap owners in a heartbeat. But(t), asking the Georgia Senate declare you “Kings of the South” after playing precisely 38 MLS games -- and winning zero playoff games -- is a bit thirsty, no?  

 

9. Jawns

We're just going to say it: the Sons of Ben are Right Proper Ladz. We may not share their taste in MLS teams, but damnit we respect their TIFO game.   

Brotherly Gang, cousin of the failing Massive Report, asked Philly's own Tifo Czar Ryan Bross about some of the finer details.

Precourt is on the left (west) side and the megaphone’s colors are the same colors used in the astroturf MLS2ATX “movement” started by Precourt Sports Ventures. There’s also a #SaveTheCrew sticker on the boat.

 Solodarity, comrades!

 

8. PSV Is One Step Closer To Blowing It In Austin, Texas

Approximately 11 hours after the two poor saps who headed Dave Greeley's pleas for support first showed up, Austin (Texas) City Council finally and unsurprisingly voted to approve a formal study of McKalla Place. While on the surface this might seem like a setback, but a couple councilmembers, including Leslie Pool who represents McKalla's district, are appropriately skeptical. Look, Twitter (and journalists) can immediately call -- and prove -- bullshit on every one of Precourt and Greeley's “commitments to the community” within minutes. Do you really think this grift is hold up through a two-month interrogation err study conducted by Austin city government employees?

By the way, the good folks in Austin haven't been shy about letting Boyish Anthony know general aversion to giving public assets to billionaire Sports Venturers. Exhibit A (for avaiation!):

 

6. MLS Is Doing Just Fine, Thanks

While Don Garber wanted all the attention trained on a baseball stadium, but the real action outta New York came in the form of another lawsuit filed against the league. 

Now we just may be a Cow Town blogger, but we're pretty sure two lawsuits three weeks into the season isn't a very good look. 

 

5. Rick 'N Rick

They’re back with a high-tech simulation of Saturday’s clash of MLS Charter Members. We have one word for you: Abuuuuuuuuuuuu

 

4. Lalas Abubakar

Even with Josh Williams — be still, our beating heart! — cleared to play, it’s going to be difficult to displace the second-year centerback. Abubakar is thriving for a surprisingly stalwarts Crew Back backline that has  been scored against the same amount of times as MLS has been sued three weeks into the season. And he’s putting up Wil Trapp-type numbers in the passing game. 

 

3. Zack Steffen and Wil Trapp: American Heroes

The Crew captain and keeper were called up to represent the good ol’ US of A in an upcoming friendly vs. Paraguay.

We were very, very tempted to use this space to launch a tirade against MLS for being basically the only league that schedules games during international breaks. (Gyasi Zardes was reportedly under consideration for a call-up as well but US caretaker manager Dave Sarachan allowed Greggggg to keep some of his team’s spine for Saturday.) 

Instead we’ll just observe that if Bruce Arena had called the Crew-some twosome up last year, the USMNT would be playing some meaningful games this summer. Although, failing to qualify for the World Cup may end up a blessing in disguise, what with all the state-sponsored hooliganism expected in Russia. 

Do the damn thang, Wil and Zack!  

 

2. Gossip! 

MLS players really dished out the dirt to ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle and Chris Wondolowski -- more like Miss Wondolowski amirite!? For real though. 

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Now, back to those juicy deets!

First off, the Crew's own Wil Trapp (T-3rd Most Underrated Player), King Harrison Afful (5th Toughest Individual Opponent) and Gregggggg Berhalter (T-2nd Current Coach You'd Most Like To Play For) all got due recognition from the gaggle of anonymous MLSers. Unnamed players also provided some golden quotes on plenty of other topics.

On the most overrated player in MLS:

"It was easier with Mix [Diskerud] and [Frank] Lampard and even [Andrea] Pirlo. Before it was easy. Me answering like that is probably a good sign for the league.''

On whether their understanding of general allocation money (GAM) and targeted allocation money (TAM), known colloquially as Don Garber Funbucks: 

"I've heard people talking about it, and I've just been nodding my head, but I don't have a clue."

On the current coach they'd least like to play for: 

"Whoever is coaching New England -- doesn't matter which coach it is."

 

2. #SoccerForAll

We know MLS promoted that hashtag last week, but for some reason — we can’t quite put our finger on it — it rang just a bit hollow. We truly do believe that soccer is for everyone and that builds bonds between different people and different cultures. That’s one of the reasons we’re so proud of our work with Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) and even more so of the groundswell or support we’ve gotten from the World’s Greatest Supporter Community. 

 

1. #SaveTheCrew

Contrary to opposition talking points, the #SaveTheCrew movement expanding. So much so that this rag-tag team is getting blamed for pretty much every time Dave Greeley and co. step in it in.

“Wow, Guillermo! #SaveTheCrew must have been so busy this week in Austin, Texas, that they completely dropped the ball here in Columbus,” you, a paid PSV troll, might say. 

About that...  

 UP 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.

GCGBAG Starting 11: Week 3

Thoughtful analysis and commentary about The Columbus Crew and Major League Soccer, largely based on an accumulation of data.

 

11. Evan Bush

Let’s just say the Montreal keeper has had a rough go at things against a Certain World’s Greatest Team of late. Like a 10-goals-allowed-over-his-last-three-starts kind of rough go.  While we had a soft spot for the Ohio native for a time, his role in the “Goal Camghazi” scandal last June changed things. So we 100% support the official Crew Twitter dunking on him. 

  Au revoir, garçon du fucc!

 

10. That Other Kamara Guy

Kei Kamara is a complicated man. Off the field, he’s a duly-recognized  humanitarian, who has contributed so much to his native Sierra Leone. On the other hand, he’s sort of — how can we put this? — a dick. And an overrated dick at that. Think we’re wrong? Well numbers don’t care about your feelings.

 

9. MLS2ATX x SXSW

What’s the difference between MLS2ATX and South By Southwest? One is the commodification of Austin’s celebrated counterculture by soulless corporate brands manifested... and the other has cheap kites!

Dave Greeley, who’s failed up so many times that he’ll probably end up running Soccer United Marketing after we #SaveTheCrew, saw an opportunity to offload some scarves show how much Austin, Texas loves soccer while the festival-thing is going on. And boy, we can just feel the all energy and excitement.

Did someone say photoshopped? 

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8. Alexi Lalas

We thought the former USMNT defender turned Fox Soccer commentator showed his true colors when he appeared in the first edition of Sean Kelly’s Save The Crew documentary. Since then it’s become clear Lalas is the only person remotely associated with MLS actually taking this “parallel paths” stuff seriously.

Maybe he got a stern talking to by Don Garber? Most likely though, he just thinks this Twitter contrarian schtick is good for his Brand. 

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7. Alex Crognale Got The Shaft

With Josh Williams *swoon* nearing a return, we weren’t too surprised to see Alex Crognale get loaned out to a USL team to get a few games in. We just figured he’d be loaned out to one of the half dozen or so USL teams in contiguous states, not sent across the goddamned country to the Orange City Oranges (or whatever). 

“But Guillermo, you aren’t inferring that Anthony Precourt forced  Gregggggg to loan Alex far away from his friends and family, some of whom have been critical of plans to move the team far away from his friends and family, are you? That would be extremely petty, even for Precourt.”

We’re not just inferring it, rhetorical device. 

 

6. Mini Tiny Demon Fortress  

If you want to purchase this beauty for your child [within], you’d better hurry because they’re going fast! Hit up our dude BLOCKStadium on Etsy

There’s even a special McKalla Place edition for a certain blundering failson.

 

5. Drunken Crewzer Goes To The Olympics

The often imitated (*cough* Massive Report *cough*), never duplicated and always inebriated GCGBAG reporter is back again for another season of shoe-leather investigative journalism. Drunken Crewzer was on the scene after the Crewsmas Day victory asking the question on everyone’s mind. What’s that question? Watch to find out! Or, you know, look for the contextual clues. 

 

4. Gyasi Zardes  

Now that Zardes has scored more goals in pair of games in Black & Gold than he did in 23 starts for the LA Galaxy last year, the HYPE is happening. 

While there is little doubt that Zardes will net 20+ to help lead the Crew to a 34-0-0 season, a few question remain. Is it the Zardes or Gregggggg’s system? And if it’s Gregggggg’s system, could, like, anyone score in it? And if, like, anyone could score, how many goals could Adam Jahn get starting over the course of a season?

Pray we never find out.

 

3.  Pipa

We don’t need to retread the history of Fredrico Higuain and penalty kicks in Columbus. However, to see the Maestro  — after popping one in from the spot in the first half for his 50th career goal in Black & Gold — concede the stoppage-time, game-winning PK to Zardes on Saturday was to see him at perhaps his most cerebral. Which is to say, Pipa knows the gravity of this season and he ain’t got no time for the Süddeck.

“I always miss on that goal. Always. I think I’ve missed 4 or 5 PKs, so why not try something new.”

While we’d argue Pipa should’ve been credited with an assist for that move, he’ll likely have to wait one more game to become the first member of the 50-50 club in Crew history (he’s sitting on 49 right now).

We have the sneaking suspicion that No matter how much praise and adoration we shower upon him, we will only come to truly appreciate his majesty once he has hung up the boots. But that day is not today. 

 

2. GUMBINHO  

If you caught the front page of last Sunday’s Dispatch, you know the Greater Columbus Golden Boys and Girls are, to put it mildly, a global phenomenon. 

At the vanguard, along with the Tifo Czar, was GUMBINHO. With the return of that that glorious green polyester purveyor of all things Massive, there will be no stopping us! 

 

1. #SaveTheCrew

After tackling the silver screen last week with the swanky red carpet premiere of part two of the Save The Crew documentary series, #SaveTheCrew set its sights on the next big thing: public radio. More specifically, WOSU’s “All Sides with Ann Fisher.”

(Radio shows are like fancy podcasts, but they don’t record them in youre moms basement.) 

Corporate Celebrity Fan Morgan Hews joined Ann in-studio (because his apartment is infested with rats) while “Duffey Man” (Oh yeah!) State Rep. Mike Duffey and legal wrangler James Maniace called in for a riveting discussion. Rep. Duffey even brought his Ohio Revised Code so that everyone could get a taste of the special “Modell Law.” 

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 Listen here

—— 

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.

GCGBAG Starting 11: Week 2

Thoughtful analysis and commentary about the Columbus Crew and Major League Soccer, based largely on an accumulation of data.

 

11. McKalla Place

If you think Anthony Precourt, Camp Tiger Claw incarnate, didn’t rush to announce that he’d settled for McKalla Place as a petulant, extremely on-brand attempt to steal thunder from the #SaveTheCrew Community Kit partay (more on that later), then we have a bridge to sell you. Or more accurately, the City of Austin has a toxic waste dump 11 miles from downtown that it would like Precourt to take off their hands (more on owning PSV later, too). 

Of course “Fratboy McTrustfund” wants taxpayers in Austin, Texas to fork over all public land free gratis for only the most egalitarian of reasons:

I just read an article in the Austin American-Statesman that illuminated challenges kids who live in East Austin face when trying to find good access to soccer. We want to help with that...
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C’mon down to McKalla Place, kids! Boyish Anthony even has great, new, CDC-mandated uniforms for you! 

 

10. Stern John

A certain Columbus Crew legend who also happens to be the most prolific goal-scorer in MLS history was back in the news this week. 

Believe it or not, Stern John is still sorta playing, at least according to Wikipedia. All we’re saying is — with zero depth at striker beyond Gyasi Zardes and Adam Jahn — Gregg could do a lot worse than bringing John back to Columbus. 

 

9. The Law: Ain’t it a Bitch 

Last week, we used some of this space to caution any MLS commissioners or team investor-operators that “#SaveTheCrew is basically the only bipartisan issue in the state” and not to be surprised when lawmakers try “enforcing laws on the books.” While we do have lots of real sources at all levers of power, we were as pleasantly blindsided as the rest of you by the joint-lawsuit filed by the state and City of Columbus Monday, asking a judge to ensure PSV and the league comply with the “Modell Law.” Whether the Ohio attorney general got wind of some sinister backroom dealings or was just responding to PSV’s latest, hilariously-inept overtures in Austin, Texas, this, folks, is major development.

MLS and PSV released a joint statement responding to the lawsuit the following day. Why a joint-statement? This could be for a couple reasons: 1) MLS is actually co-defendant along with PSV and other related shell corporations and/or 2) every statement or public comment PSV has put out without adult supervision has only built the AG’s case.

We’ll leave legal wrangling over the law’s applicability to licensed legal wranglers but rest assured, if said legal wrangling reaches the courtroom, it’s not going to be a good thing for MLS or PSV, which leads us to our next point. 

 

8. Everyone Is Owning PSV and MLS

It may have taken more than 24 hours for the joint-response to come out, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that it’s just four paragraphs of recycled talking points and fails to address a single point made in the complaint. Or that multiple lawyers billed PSV and/or MLS hundreds of dollars for each hour they took to “craft” that response.

Or that last week the terrific people of Austin, Texas paid to have this plane flown around: 

Or that this is the primo coverage MLS got in the Sunday New York Times for Opening Weekend:

 

7. Athlete CRUSH

So what exactly is Athlete CRUSH? Well according to Twitter, it’s an in-development app that will “revolution[ize] how athletes, fans, charities and brands connect.” Not sold? Check out Athlete CRUSH’s latest #mancrushmonday: 

Go ahead. Soak it in. Take all the time you need.  

 

6. Rick and Rick: Newer, Better, Hotter

While SKaMzZ the Usurper may lay claim to the title of Official Gamer of the Columbus Crew (for now), GCGBAG’s own Rick and Rick returned this week with new and improved FIFA Scouting Report. Every fan’s crazy ‘bout these sharp dressed men! 

Redditor vanparda spoke for us all when he observed “Rick & Rick are hotter than I thought.” 

 

5. Young Deepy

The major league debut from young designated player Milton Valenzuela aka Young Deepy was straight 🔥🔥.

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The 19-year-old leftback connected with compatriot Fredrico Higuain for the opening goal of the 2018 MLS season and combined with Lalas Abubakar and the rest of the Crew backline to stymie the defending Best Team In MLS History™ on opening day. All three players were selected to the MLS Team of the Week, along with Crew legend Justin Meram, which is a bit weird because everyone knows he retired from soccer this offseason.

 

4. Kirk Urso

Tuesday, March 6 would’ve been the former Columbus midfielder’s 28th birthday. Many former and current Crew players, along with fans, took some time remember the KU15, who even in his relative short time here left an indelible mark on Columbus soccer community. 

Kirk, you are loved, missed and forever massive. Click here to make a donation to the Kirk Urso Memorial Fund.

 

3. CRIS Ticket Exchange

With the full weight and support of #SaveTheCrew behind our ticket donation drive to support our friends at Community Refugee and Immigration Services, the question was never “if” but “when” we’d reach the goal for Crewsmas. And that question was answered Monday. 

 Crew fans, you’re all beautiful! 

 

2. Crewsmas

It’s Crewsmas Saturday and it’s going to be the greatest day of the year, at least until the day we Save The Crew. And win the MLS Cup. And capture the Sextuple. But those incredible future achievements shouldn’t overshadow what is always a rip-roaring good time. It’s gotta be if the Andy Gruenebaum is coming to town!

Don’t worry the Hebrew Hammer made it in safe and sound. 

With so much going on, you could forgive Failing Corporate Celebrity Fan Morgan Hughes for forgetting to update the #MegaTailgate map for all the new Golden Boys and Girls that will be joining us for the Crewsmas celebration Saturday. But we won’t. 

See you bright and early Saturday! The Old Farts are cookin’ up the chili (and maybe even some queso!) and we’ll have loads of other, uh, “activities” to keep you warm leading up to kick off against le Impact de Montreal. 

 

1. #SaveTheCrew

It’s been just another typical week for the #SaveTheCrew movement. On top of all the boring ol' lawsuit that could be both the movement's salvation and the MLS's eventual undoing, there was also the yawner of a jersey reveal party Thursday night. 

One thing is for sure, a handful of passionate Crew supporters didn't make the actual MLS team's roll out of the F̶u̶n̶e̶r̶a̶l̶ Black Kit seem the least bit unfulfilling. If one wanted to purchase one of these "Community Kits," for the mudane af price of $75, they could probably purchase them here

 ———

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.

Power Rankings: Week 3

By Guillermo O'Rourke  

 Power Rankings, based largely on an accumulation of data. 

22.  D.C. United's pitch (NR)

Now we know where they faked the moon landing.

21. Atlanta United supporters (-2)

Not only are they taking a cue from the SEATTLE SOUNDERS Supporters Handbook and claiming credit for inventing something they clearly didn't invent, they're also seriously bringing into question their city's status as undisputed capital of Hip Hop culture.

We know you'd like to think your club don't stink

But bring that weak sh*t north, see

Suckas gon' get got by Crew-oo-oo

20. Brek Shea (NR)

The Vancouver Whitecaps wingback got tossed from last weekend's 2-0 loss to Toronto FC after picking up a yellow card for dissent. What the, ahem, Brek did he, ahem, Shea to earn that second yellow? MLSSoccer.com weighed in with the sort of zany, topical humor we'd expect.  

19. Portland Timbers (-11)

The Timbers kept on rolling last week with a comeback 4-2 victory over Houston Dynamo. But with Darlington Nagbe (international duty) and Liam Ridgewell (sprained ankle and wastey face) unavailable, Steve Clark in Denmark and referee Jair Marrufo in no position to blow an crystal-clear call to influence the outcome of the game, Portland should be in for a real challenge Saturday at MAPFRE Stadium. 

18. South Carolina Gamecocks (NR)

We know it's a different sport, but beating Duke is a national service deserving of recognition. 

17. DrunkenCrewzer (NR)

After three weeks, our own Drunken Crewzer's self-titled squad sits atop the GCGBAG MLS Fantasy League table

16. Norway (NR)

Ola Kamara's home country is now officially the happiest nation on the planet.

15. Tony Tchani's new fashion line (NR)

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Our role models are athlete-artist-merchants. There are less than 10 that we can name in history: Truman, Ford, Hughes, Disney, Jobs, Tchani. 

14. The Search for the Golden Crewzer

Two new Crew SC devotees were added to the mix this week. Completely unrelated: The Greater Columbus Golden Boys and Girls Supports Group, Inc., LLC does not condone the use of child labor. Nor do we condone the consumption of a fine single-malt whiskey or any other alcoholic beverage whilst getting one's swoll on. 

13. Adam Jahn: Pollster (NR)

He's coming for you, Nate Silver.

12. Overpaying for old, washed up European players (NR)

Like anything fashion related, the fad of aging European players coming to MLS for one last mega paycheck before hanging up the boots hit the U.S. coasts before making its way into the heartland. Well now the Chicago (sic) Fire have gotten in on it, splurging $4.5 million a year on former World Cup and Champions League winner Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was deemed surplus goods at Manchester United because he was too old, couldn't stay healthy and didn't fit the system. Fortunately none of those issues should follow him to the Windy Suburbs.

11. Cedrick Mabwati (NR) 

Although he never quite reached his full potential on the pitch for Crew SC, "Touch Mabwati" remains one of the greatest chants in Nordecke history. Period. We wish Cedrick a fast and full recovery! 

10. #PipaDinks (NR)

 We swear it's not what it sounds like.

9.  Carli Lloyd (NR)

Carli Lloyd, a national hero who should have her likeness emblazoned upon U.S. currency, scored in her Champions League debut for Manchester City. Granted, it wasn't a thunder strike from 30 yards out or an airmail delivery from midfield, but her headed goal held up as the game-winner, giving Citeh the advantage leading up to the second leg of the quarterfinals.

8.  Hipster Tailgate

Join us on Saturday as we welcome our sporting visitors from the Hipster Mecca of Portland. Wear (black and gold) flannel, (black and gold) knit hats and oversized glasses! Judge people who've never listened to the Velvet Underground! Make your own koozie to keep your PBR can cold! Put a bird on it! 

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7.  Gaston Sauro's Karate Toddler (NR)

6.  Alex Crognale (NR)

You're 22-year-old homegrown defender Alex Crognale. You're making your MLS debut and you've been asked to anchor the back-3. What do you do? How about boss every United player who gets within a yard of you, helping to secure the club's first win and clean sheet of the campaign, earning a spot in the MLS Team of Week and forcing head coach Gregggg Berhalter to make some tough decisions ahead of Saturday's match.

5. The Lads (⬆️)

After last week's 2-0 victory over D.C. United, The Lads are definitely upped.

4. BFFs Ola and Pipa (NR)

Penalty kicks were a sore spot  that divided the Crew SC locker room (Kei Kamara vs. Fredrico Higuain and everyone else) and even the fanbase last season. So to see Pipa let Ola Kamara -- who had totally earned both PKs -- take the second was quite a thing to behold. Let's just say Pipa's Chipotle gift card is good for two. 

3 In The Back (NR)

Awwww yeah boy!  After months -- nay, years -- of anticipation, we finally got to see the Berhalter Back-3 in last weekend's victory. The conditions hardly seemed ideal with DP centerback Jonathan Mensah serving a 1-game suspension, but homegrown youngin Alex Crognale and veteran utility man Josh Williams did a bang-up job filling out the base of the Crewsmas Tree™ formation with Nico Naess. Will we see it again this weekend but with Jonathan? The intrigue!

2. Cascadia Subduction Zone (NR)

The Cascadia Sunduction Zone is a 700-mile long fault line off the coast in the Pacific Northwest, where the North American and Juan de Fuca tectonic plates are wedged up against each other. When the next rupture happens -- it's  overdue and scientists say there's a 1-in-3 chance for a "big one" within the next 50 years -- the resulting earthquake and accompanying tsunami will ravage a 40,000-square-mile area of the Pacific Northwest, including Portland. We're talking a quake measuring between 8.0 - 9.2 on the Richter scale and if it's the high end, a "full-margin" rupture, Portland could be Ground Zero for the "worst natural disaster in the history of North America."

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1.  Columbus Crew SC (-)

The World's Greatest Team is coming off a massive victory and get a boost heading into Saturday's rematch of [REDACTED] with the return of Jonathan from suspension. And, as noted in No. 10, our expert, high-tech, mega-accurate simulation indicates a quite favorable result for the home team. 

 

Stay Golden!