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 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.

GCGBAG Starting 11: Week 1

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: 

Let's hear it for SKaMzZ everyone!

Let's hear it for SKaMzZ everyone!

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.  

 

9. SANCH

SANCH.png

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!)🎶

 

8. TROPHIES!  

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. 

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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:

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Get your membership over at the Nordecke Shop now. 

 

1.  #SaveTheCrew

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.