New Eras

I have never lived more than an hour away from Crew Stadium.

Even before I really started following the Columbus Crew, my family would take me to games every once in a while, usually through discounted tickets from summer soccer camps.  My earliest ticket stub I have was from the 2004 season when I was only ten years old.  Now that it is 2014, I have been going to Crew games for half my time on earth.

Supporting the Crew as closely as possible the past seven years has been a journey unlike any other.

I still equate some life events specifically with the Crew.  I remember where I was when I missed a game, where I was standing during certain goals, who I celebrated with during both home and away games.  I feel like the ups and downs of the Crew have even coincided with my own life to a certain degree.

This year, the Crew have been completely reborn.  New head coach Gregg Berhalter, new owner Anthony Precourt’s first full year in charge, new players, new captain, new stadium upgrades.  After a blazing start to the 2014 season with three consecutive wins, the Crew have cooled down a little, but I think we all hope they regain the high-octane style of play that reminded us of the good old days.

With all the new life that has been breathed into this year’s Columbus Crew, my life will soon be starting anew as well.  Saturday night’s game on May 10th against the Vancouver Whitecaps was the last Crew game I will watch in person for sometime, as I am moving across the country to be closer to my family and continue my college education.  Who knows when the next time will be.  Although a frustrating 1-0 home loss, it was still an exceptional night.

I will obviously miss watching my hometown soccer team live and in person.   There is nothing that compares to it in all of sport.  The emotional connection is extraordinary.  I will still be watching, though.  You can count on that.

I have met a great number of great people through the Crew.  Writing for Massive Report, standing in the Nordecke with my Einheit brethren.  Through the good times and the bad. Stadium ban threats and flag checks.

My dad and I had season tickets together, and my girlfriend was quickly turned into a fan.
I know they never quite had the fandom which possessed me, but they were there out of love.  Albeit, the love which led them into the stadium was probably a different one than mine, but that just makes it even more special to me.

Although the sun is setting on this portion of my life, it is just as quickly rising in another.

Aloha and Be Massive.

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The 2008 Columbus Crew: A Poem

To Guillermo Barros Schelotto,
How I’ve missed you so.
Your free kicks toward goal,
Business man socks,
Watching Alejandro’s flops.
The Nordecke’s bow,
Hoping for a foul.
Chad Marshall rising above,
Danny O’s shoves,
And Frankie’s eccentric overlapping runs,
The last of which clinched an everlasting fun,
A happy moment in the California sun.
Celebrating for a number of reasons,
Before a roster depletion,
We will always have this massive season.

Be Massive.

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Crew End Preseason With Two Meaningful Games

After winning the Disney Pro Soccer Classic’s group A, the Columbus Crew faced off against the group B winners Montreal Impact on Saturday night in the tournament’s championship game.  Unlike previous games, this one was only streamed on; therefore, I was unable to watch it.  Luckily for me, I did not miss much.

The game ended in a 1-0 loss for Columbus.  Montreal’s lone goal came in the 54th minute after Justin Mapp’s shot skipped off the post and past Crew goalie Andy Gruenebaum.

Less than 24 hours later, the team rejoined those who had already traveled to North Carolina for the Kirk Urso Memorial Match between Urso’s collegiate team, the North Carolina Tar Heels, and his only professional team, the Crew.  While the game ended in a 1-0 win for Columbus after a Konrad Warzycha goal in the 79th minute, the real result was off the field.  All the proceeds from the match went toward the Kirk Urso Memorial Fund which helps to fund congenital heart research, the unknown condition that took Urso’s life away much too soon.

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Disney Pro Soccer Classic Group Games: A Short Recap

With the signing of Argentine midfielder Matías Sánchez finally confirmed, the Columbus Crew headed to Florida for the second time this preseason to partake in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic.

The Crew’s first game in the tournament, and fourth overall preseason game, was against Toronto FC on February 9th.  Offseason additions Gláuber, Dominic Oduro, and Sánchez all made their debuts for Columbus.  The game ended in a 1-0 win for the Crew.  The lone goal came in the 30th minute after Federico Higuaín served in a corner kick from the right side and found Gláuber, whose looping header beat goalie Stefen Frei.

Here is the video of the entire game against Toronto (the goal sequence begins at 42:00):

The second game for Columbus featured quite a bit more scoring, as the Crew beat the Philadelphia Union on February 13th, 4-0.  Although the second string started the game and was subbed out in the 61st minute for the first string, all four goals were scored in the first 53 minutes.  The first goal came in the 28th minute from SuperDraft pick Ryan Finley after he received a through ball from Justin Meram and slipped by Union goalie Chase Harrison.  Ethan Finlay scored the next two goals for the Crew with good finishes in the 39th and 50th minutes, respectively.  His first goal was a result of a low cross from trialist Konrad Warzycha, and his second goal was a powerful blast inside the box after some great work by Eddie Gaven.  Gaven had a hand in the fourth and final goal as well, as his cross found Finlay on the right side of the box.  Finlay then served in a beautiful ball to a wide-open Aaron Schoenfeld, who simply headed the ball down and into the net.

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Crew Split Preseason Games; Duka Gone for Good

The Crew wrapped up their week of preseason training in Bradenton, Florida, on Friday morning.  After defeating D.C. United by a score of 1-0 last Saturday, Columbus then beat the Chicago Fire 2-1 on Wednesday before losing to the New York Red Bulls yesterday, 2-0.

In the game against Chicago, Federico Higuaín opened the scoring for Columbus in the 21st minute with a penalty kick goal.  Midfielder Eddie Gaven earned the spot kick after being tackled in the box by Fire trialist goalie Neal Kitson.  Crew trialist Sercan Güvenisik doubled the lead for Columbus in the 61st minute after finishing a beautiful cross from Ethan Finlay.  The goal was Güvenisik’s second in as many games.  However, he pulled his hamstring and did not feature in the game against New York.  The Crew nearly held on to a clean sheet, but Chicago SuperDraft pick Yazid Atouba blasted a goal in the 89th minute, ending the game 2-1.

Higuaín wore the captain’s armband for Columbus despite last year’s captain Chad Marshall being on the field at the same time.

Here is the video of the entire game against Chicago:

Yesterday, the Crew gave up two late goals to the New York Red Bulls.  Ian Christianson scored in the 80th minute, and Kenny Cooper scored in the 87th minute.

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Preseason Training and New Acquisitions

The Columbus Crew continue to add to their roster during the team’s first preseason stretch in Florida.  Today, the Crew announced the signing of left-back/midfielder Agustín Viana.

The 29-year-old Viana was born in Chicago but also has citizenship in Uruguay where he started his professional soccer career with Bella Vista.  Along with Uruguay, Viana has played in Brazil, Romania, Italy, and Greece.  Viana was most recently playing in his fourth stint with Bella Vista in the Uruguayan Primera División.  He started every game in the 2012-2013 Apertura and was also the team’s captain.  Viana has already joined the Crew in Florida for preseason training.

Here is a long highlight video of Viana from last year:

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Crew Sign Brazilian Gláuber, Select Three in Supplemental Draft

Today was a busy day for the Columbus Crew.  Along with the second preseason training session, the team announced the signing of 6’3″ Brazilian defender Gláuber Leandro Honorato Berti before selecting three more players in the Supplemental Draft. Gláuber’s career has taken him from his native Brazil to the top leagues in Germany, England, and Romania.  Gláuber, a natural left-footer, has been with Rapid Bucharest since 2010 but only made 46 appearances during that time.  He was strangely cut from the team by email.  Gláuber has one cap with the Brazilian national team from a friendly match against Guatemala in 2005. However, Gláuber’s biggest claim to fame is his cult status with Manchester City fans.  During the 2008-2009 season, his only one with the club, Gláuber consistently made the game-day roster but never made an appearance off the bench.  In the last game of the season against Bolton Wanderers, Gláuber was brought on for the remaining few minutes to booming applause.  This thread on a Manchester City fan site contains over 35 pages of outlandish facts about Gláuber.  If his Wikipedia page is to be believed, some Manchester City fans still refer to their substitutes bench as the “Berti.” The 29-year-old Gláuber is expected to start alongside Chad Marshall in the center of defense, pushing Josh Williams to right-back and Danny O’Rourke to defensive midfield.  Tyson Wahl is the current projected starter at left-back. Continue reading

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Columbus SuperDraft for Depth

With the 9th and 28th picks in Thursday’s 2013 MLS SuperDraft, the Columbus Crew selected forward Ryan Finley and defender Drew Beckie respectively.

Ryan Finley started his collegiate career at Duke University but was suspended indefinitely for disciplinary issues after his sophomore season. While at Duke, Finley scored 28 goals in only 39 games. He was named the ACC Offensive Player of the Year and earned All-ACC First Team honors in 2010.

Finley transferred to the University of Notre Dame for his final two years of college soccer. There, he (almost eerily) also scored 28 goals in 39 appearances despite not starting a single game. Still, Finley scored 21 goals in 2012 and was a MAC Hermann Trophy finalist.

Here is a good highlight video of Finley showing his finishing ability at Notre Dame. He does not necessarily have a big physical presence or great dribbling skills, but he knows where to be at the right time and has the technical skill to score goals in tight situations. Finley’s playing style is similar to Chris Wondolowski’s.

Although Finley definitely has a knack for scoring, pundits questioned this pick for a few reasons. Crew head coach Robert Warzycha is notorious for sitting players who he deems are not responsible enough or who do not practice hard enough in practice. With that and Finley’s track record in mind, one has to wonder how long Warzycha will put up with him before the forward is in Warzycha’s inescapable doghouse.

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Emilio Renteria Latest to Leave Crew

Yet another Columbus Crew player is not returning for the 2013 season.  A few days ago, the Crew confirmed that right-back Sebastian Miranda will definitely not be with the team this year.  Yesterday, forward Emilio Renteria was added to that list.

Renteria joined the Crew during the 2009 season.  He contributed right away, scoring a goal in Puerto Rico against the Islanders which helped Columbus become the only MLS team to advance out of the 2009-2010 CONCACAF Champions League group stages.  Here are the highlights from that game, including Renteria’s goal:

The burly Venezuelan’s best season came in 2011 when he partnered up front with the one and only Andres Mendoza (Viva Mendoza!).  Renteria scored 8 goals and dished out 2 assists in only 18 games that year.

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Crew Add Much-Needed Depth to Defense

The Columbus Crew announced the signing of 28-year-old defender Tyson Wahl earlier today. Wahl is a former U.S. U-17 national team player.  He started for the U.S. in a 2-0 loss to Nigeria during the 2001 FIFA U-17 World Championship.  Also on that U.S. team was current Crew defender Chad Marshall, who started two games in the same tournament.

Wahl has played seven seasons in MLS.  He began his MLS career in Kansas City.  After three years with the Wizards, he was selected by the Seattle Sounders in the 2008 MLS Expansion draft.  In 2011, Wahl had his best season as a professional.  He started 22 games for the Sounders at left-back, scoring 1 goal and picking up 2 assists.  Before the 2012 season, Wahl was traded to Montreal in exchange for allocation money.  He started 11 games for the Impact before again being traded on July 13th, this time to the Colorado Rapids.  Wahl only made four appearances with the Rapids and was released at the end of the season.  He entered the recent MLS Re-Entry Draft but was passed on in both rounds.

Here is a clip of Wahl’s first and only MLS goal.  It came from a beautiful bending free kick, one of Wahl’s strengths:

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