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.  




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. 


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. 


Power Rankings: Guillermo's Back Post All-Star Break

(Ed. Note: We've been hit with a deluge of emails, phone calls, tweets and interpretive dances over the past few months, all asking the same question: "What happened to the GCGBAG Power Rankings and is Guillermo O'Rourke as handsome and witty in person as he comes across in writing and, if so, is he single and, if so, do you think I've got a chance?" To the latter inquiries, the answer has been and remains: "No, he is even more handsome and witty in person, but you don't have a chance because he's married to the game." However, we've had to remain silent on the former inquiry because, as we have learned and can now share publicly, he had been abducted and forcibly detained at what appears to have been a MLS black site.

We reported Mr. O'Rourke as missing on May 6 when he did not show up for the pregame tailgate at MAPFRE Stadium ahead of the match with New England. Law enforcement opened a formal investigation but turned up no leads and we had all but given up hope until we received word he had been discovered this past Sunday, August 6 near Bridgeview, Ill. A couple had called local authorities to report a disoriented man in nothing but boxers who had stumbled out of the woods in their backyard straight into the middle of their son's birthday party. When they asked the man who he was or if he needed help, "he just kept repeating: 'at the soccer Don loves me and knows what's best for me' -- whatever that means." If not for a 7-year-old at the party in a Bastian Schweinsteiger jersey [whom Mr. O'Rourke instinctively RKO'd; the parents have graciously agreed not to press charges], our special guy might have never have been jolted out of this trauma-induced state.

We now know that over 90-plus days in captivity, ex-Blackwater agents, under orders that could only have been approved by highest levels of MLS, attempted to coerce Mr. O'Rourke into disclosing the identities of anonymous league sources responsible for leaking many of the explosive revaluations that have been exclusively reported in this space. Despite their "enhanced" interrogation techniques, which included sleep deprivation, forced ingestion of a "shit-ton" of psychotropic-hallucinogenic drugs and being subjected to the tortuous 2016 MLS Cup Final on a loop for 72 straight hours, our intrepid reporter refused to reveal his sources.

Although authorities were able to retrace Mr. O'Rourke's trail to find the underground bunker where he was believed to have been held, the site was deserted by the time they arrived and most of the evidence scrubbed. We are unable to comment further as the investigation is ongoing, other than to say we are so grateful to have Mr. O'Rourke returned to his friends and family. And now, against the advice of six different medical professionals, he's catching up on all his bullshit.

Power Rankings, largely based on an accumulation of data. 

22. MLS All-Star Team

Four Chicago (sic) Fire players. Three each from Dallas, Toronto and Atlanta (Parkhurst!?). Oh, and we can't forget "Commissioner's Pick" Dom Dwyer -- you know, the guy with three fewer goals AND four fewer assists than Justin Meram. Christ, Don. How in the hell do you expect to beat the team with the "Portuguese Meram" without the original Iraqi Ronaldo? 

21. Rafa "Kingpin" Marquez

Rafa Marquez has denied allegations about being involved with Flores Hernandez's drug trafficking organization. However, the US Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control is confident enough in their investigation to have sanctioned the former New York Energy Drink Star and Mexican International footballer anyway. No bueno, bro.

20. The Worst 20 Seconds In Soccer History


18. Chris Penso

In a show a rare ingenuity from MLS officials, Chris Penso used his magic spray to draw a magic line that mysteriously held off the horde of complaining players so that he could have a private conversation with his sideline official. His resourcefulness would be the trait that makes him the unlikely hero for the protagonists in a campy horror film about zombie soccer players.

17. Olympic Diving Team

As the Olympic Diving trials approach for the upcoming Olympics, we've been keeping an eye out for talent around the world. Our scouts informed us that Spaniard Jordi Alba is the one to beat this year, after he recently nailed one of the most impressive dives in recent history:

16. GCGBAG Fantasy

Team Los Angeles Comedian is atop the GCGBAG MLS Fantasy League after last week, with 1,817 points. 

Speaking of fantasy, in case you don't have enough fantasies in your life, we'll also be running a GCGBAG Premier League Fantasy Team through the Fantasy iTeam app. The PIN to join the league is 115735.

15. Josh Sargent

With goals like this and his most recent strike (below) at the U-20 World Cup, the 17 year old (along with Zach Steffen) just might be the future of the USMNT.

14. New and Improved Soccering-Ability-Enhancing Genome Thereapy... For Kids!

Apparently a Miami-based company claims they can sequence your child's genome to make them become the ultimate soccer star!

13. Bourussia Muchengladbort

12. First Pitch Pipa

Pipa tossed an exquisite first pitch in Cincinnati recently; though we're not concerned about him pulling a Tim Tebow and heading to the minors anytime soon.

11. Reasonable Soccer Parents

10. One for the Future

Lights out. 👟🕯💨 🙌 TAG @leomessi @cristiano 🙌 Licensed by Jukin Media

A post shared by Korbin Jackson (@korbin_jackson) on

Crew SC better put him on the discovery list if he's dropping passes on top of candlesticks with mini soccer balls at this age.

9. The Lads (↗️)

Some GCGBAGs including Rick & Rick hit the road to cheer on the boys in Salt Lake and San Jose. You can find some photos of their wee-little-shenanigans on Instagram, Facebook, and the Twittersphere.


A post shared by GCGBAG (@gcgbag) on

8. Pipa Megs

As Rick & Rick might say... ANKLES! ANKLES ON 'EM!

7. Brad's Stuvers

6. Drogba Thunderstrike

Drogba's gonna Drogba.

5. West Side Casuals

We've devoted a good chunk of this space to talking up the GCGBAGs and other Nordecke supporters' groups -- and rightfully so. But in this week's installment of the "Hunt for the Golden Crewzer," we hear from a member the #roughest supporters' group in MAPFRE Stadium (along with some team spin Crew SC's corporate celebrity fan, whom we were contractually obligated to include).

4. Ola Volleys

Unfortunately, I was held in captivity for months and wasn't able to enjoy Ola's sublime volleys, to which you all were treated. So we might as well re-live them now:


Based ACES earned the three spot this week, as conductor of the cash splashin', into-the-Lord-Guillermo-Sun, Crewzers SC hype train, for his signing of the newest attacking piece of Crew SC...

2. Pedro Santos!!!!

I'll just leave this here:

1. Columbus Crew SC

The Black & Gold take the top spot this week for taking the league by storm with their business acumen, breaking the club record for largest transfer fee on a new DP, and of course, for the Josh Williams and Justin Meram bromance moments.