columbus crew

What four players should be etched into Crew immortality?

As we near the kickoff of Columbus Crew SC’s 24th season, I thought a retrospect was in order to review and appreciate the most integral players in team history. With such a look back, we decided to anoint a Crew Mount Rushmore, consisting of the four players who most uniquely personify the embodiment of Columbus Crew soccer.

How does one gain status on the Crew Mount Rushmore, you ask? My criteria is a loose mix of on-field production, accomplishments away from the Crew that enhanced the team, off the field status, and overall lasting legacy. It was a tough process to dwindle it down to only four players, but after much pondering we came to a conclusion.

Before we unveil the fantastic four, how about if we reflect on the journey of Major League Soccer’s original franchise?

The Early Days
In 1996, the inaugural season, saw a rag-tag group of players take the pitch at Ohio Stadium. Future U.S. Men’s National Team superstar and first ever draft pick, Brian McBride, was the linchpin of the squad. Polish international, Robert Warzycha, also became a critical member for the team in the original campaign. His contributions continued with the club for nearly two decades as both a player and coach. Center back Mike Clark, was another foundational player of the teams early years. His solid, workman-like defending spearheaded the teams backline for nearly a decade.

Those late 1990’s seasons saw the rise of soon-to-be international goalkeeping extraordinaire, Brad Friedel. He reached double digit shutouts in a mere season and a half manning the Crew goal. His brief tenure with the club set the standard for goalkeeping in Columbus. Trinidad born striker, Stern John went on to score more than 50 goals in just two seasons with the the Black & Gold. Despite both players massive success, their contributions were too short-lived to earn Mount Rushmore status.

After Friedel embarked on a career in England, the Crew kept their stellar play between the pipes with unheralded goalkeeper, Mark Dougherty. He led the league in goals against average and even pitched a shutout in the first ever game at Crew Stadium in May of 1999. He was also the first MLS goalkeeper to reach 50 wins. Crew regular season goal scoring record holder, Jeff Cunningham joined the squad in 1998 but his ascension from super-sub to regular starter began in 1999. He went on to score 64 goals for the Crew, still a team record.

MLS Cup Champions
Remember when the MLS SuperDraft actually mattered? We do, and so does Chad Marshall. One of the league’s all-time great defenders was drafted by the Crew with the second overall pick in 2004. The 6-foot-4 stalwart became the leader of the Black & Gold defense for 10 seasons.

USMNT veteran, Frankie Hejduk joined the club in 2003 and captained the team for several seasons, leading the squad to its first and only MLS Cup victory in 2008. McBride left for Fulham after the 2003 season, leaving the Crew without a true attacking superstar until 2007, when Guillermo Barros Schelotto made his debut. The crafty Argentine was the motor of Columbus’ attack that won that aforementioned MLS Cup. His ability was wide ranging, as both a master creator and dead ball specialist. For those of you newer Crew fans, think Federico Higuain before Federico Higuain was a thing.

A couple of unsung heroes during the mid-2000’s Columbus teams were midfielder, Eddie Gaven and goalkeeper Will Hesmer. Gaven’s versatility earned him a championship ring and over 200 appearances with the club. Hesmer holds the club record for shutouts with 41 and he is the only starting ‘keeper in team history to bring home an MLS Cup.

The 2010’s
This last decade has seen the rise of homegrown product, Wil Trapp, the acquisition of Federico Higuain, and longtime winger, Justin Meram. Trapp is a local player that climbed the ladder from the Crew Academy program, to earning the armband as the senior team’s captain. Higuain picked up where Schelotto left off, becoming the team’s engine and offensive maestro. Meram possesses skill and ability, but his work along the sidelines as winger has garnered him top 10 accolades in both goals and appearances for the Black & Gold.

As mentioned previously, find just four players in the rich history of the club was difficult. Given the cavalcade of quality goalkeepers that have dawned the Crew shield over the years, one not finding their place on the mountain top was somewhat surprising. Ultimately, we decided on four field players that we believe are the pillars and foundation of Columbus Crew soccer. So, without further ado, here is the Massive Report Columbus Crew Mount Rushmore:

Brian McBride
The Crew’s first ever draft pick and USMNT superstar. McBride’s ability on the field and willingness to shoulder the brunt of the team’s marketing efforts during the early days were essential for the club to gain stability in the market. He is/was a class act on and off the field and recently returned to play in the Save The Crew match with other former players near Crew Stadium.

Guillermo Barros Schelotto
He lacked the longevity of the other players on this list, as GBS came to Columbus at the twilight of his career, but his achievements were second to none. He enhanced the teammates around him and made the small market club a big time winner.

Federico Higuain
Entering his eighth season in Columbus, Higuain continues to be the Crew’s engine on the field and its figurehead off of it. He is a phenom on dead balls and can create as well as score within the run of play. He may even take over the regular season goal scoring title from Jeff Cunningham by this seasons end.

Frankie Hejduk
Frankie is the team’s brand ambassador today and rightfully so. He was a star on the field with his energetic play and leadership capabilities. A member and team captain of the MLS Cup championship team, Frankie is a high-spirited and energetic person. Those traits were palpable watching him bomb up and down the wing, and continue to be in his current team role today.

Honorable Mention: Robert Warzycha, Jeff Cunningham, Chad Marshall

Well, there you go, Crew fans! What do you think of my Crew Mount Rushmore? Who would be on your Crew monument? What other players should be under consideration? Let us know your thoughts.

Roster versus Roster... How Caleb Porter's Crew may mimic the Timbers of Old

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When Caleb Porter took over the Portland Timbers in 2013, he implemented a high-press, possession-oriented system of play. The playing style and he became so synonymous with one another, it was dubbed "Porterball". The system created turnovers by utilizing a staunch pressing defense to minimize the oppositions time and space. The Timbers offense would then meticulously maintain possession using quick combination passing, and pacey transitions. Positive results followed.

Prior to manning the sidelines for Portland, Porter built an NCAA powerhouse at Akron University using the Porterball system. Given his success and accomplishments in the NCAA ranks, it only seemed natural that such a style could seamlessly transition to MLS. Though, Porter’s early success with the Timbers waned over time. Opposing clubs learned how to disrupt Porterball, and the high-risk / high-reward style wore on the Timbers players, so Porter had to adjust. His offensive oriented system slowly but surely started to lean more on defending his own goal and utilize a quick counterattack to tally goals. His willingness and ability to change and adapt was a good sign of growth for Porter. Many coaches will live and later die by their own stubbornness to change.

Fast forward to Porter’s MLS Cup championship winning team in 2015, the two most critical acquisitions for the Timbers were not attacking players, but surprisingly two centerbacks. Longtime MLS veteran, Nat Borchers, and England product, Liam Ridgewell were acquired post-Porterball, solidifying the team with their defensive prowess and remarkable leadership. The re-tooled backline was nearly impossible to penetrate.

A question that only time will be able to answer is, whether or not Porter has aspirations to play a similar system and style with the Crew? If yes, how congruent is the current Crew roster to that of the 2015 Timbers? Obviously, this current Crew roster is a work-in-progress, as the offseason is in full swing, and Porter only today was officially announced as head coach. Regardless, let's compare and contrast some of the key cogs from Porter’s MLS titlists to today’s Columbus Crew.

Goalkeepers
Adam Kwarasey v Zack Steffen & Joe Bendik
Steffen is far and away the creme de la creme of this group. Forget his 2018 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award win, forget his pending transfer to the Manchester City group. As a goalkeeper, Steffen is just heads and shoulders above the others listed. He is a superior athlete, he is composed beyond his years, and as much as he says he despises penalty kick shootouts, Steffen is extremely effective in making the much-needed key save. Zack is also very capable at starting the Crew’s attack from the back via his distribution.

Kwarasey was athletic and a sound shot-stopper, as is very underrated recent acquisition, Joe Bendik. However, when Steffen leaves Columbus this summer, I honestly do not believe the Crew will be taking as much of a step back as overzealous fans would have you believe. Bendik is a phenomenal shot-stopper and above average with his distribution. He performed incredibly well on an atrocious Orlando City team over the last couple of seasons. So Crew fans, don’t sleep on Joe. The guy can hold it down between the posts. Porter is set in goal with Steffen today and Bendik tomorrow.
Advantage: Crew

Right Back
Alvas Powell v Harrison Afful
Afful is a vastly more experienced player than Powell was at this point in his career, though the two are similar in their roles. Powell has always relied on his pure athleticism to get by, which led to a myriad of mistakes his first few seasons in Portland. Afful is astute and sound in his game and more dangerous to provide service in the attacking third. He is also one of only two players to have played and started in every Crew game in 2018. Afful is most certainly a weapon Coach Porter can rely on, without the unnerving fear that Powell brought to the table.
Advantage: Crew.

Centerbacks
Nat Borchers & Liam Ridgewell v Jonathan Mensah / Lalas Abubakar / Gaston Sauro
The centerback duo is where we will see the biggest discrepancy. Mensah and Abubakar are both stout and capable centerbacks, but the resounding decrease in pedigree and experience is massive. Borchers was the consummate pro, the grizzled MLS vet who knew the league inside and out. And his beard was miraculous, which carried along with it a slogan… “Fear the Beard”. Ridgy brought the international derivation from soccer’s motherland. The two together were a damn near impenetrable wall.

Mensah is the more seasoned of the two current Columbus centerbacks. Abubakar has the emotion and youthful exuberance of a young player, which can be both a blessing and a curse. Ridgewell was very technically sound with the ball at his feet, and he provided a higher capability of build up play from the back. While Abubakar has improved in this area since being selected 5th overall by the Crew in the 2017 MLS Draft, he and Mensah are lightyears behind Ridgewell in that category. Is that a downfall Porter is willing to manage and seek to coach up? Or might he rate higher the likes of former Boca Juniors product, Gaston Sauro, and slot him in that role? Might he look elsewhere? I would bet so.
Advantage: Timbers

Left Back
Jorge Villafaña v Milton Valenzuela
Young Designated Player, Milton Valenzuela is a player I believe Porter will cherish. The pacey outside back is the exact type of player Porter sought out in Villafana when he was acquired in 2014. While Villafana had his up and down moments, he blossomed into a steady and accountable left back for the Timbers. He eventually earned time with the U.S. Men’s National Team as well. Valenzuela is projecting a higher ceiling than Villafana ever did at the ripe young age of 20. Milton is someone I believe Porter will lean on and push to another level.
Advantage: Crew

Central Midfield
Darlington Nagbe / Diego Chará / Diego Valeri v Federico Higuain / Wil Trapp / Artur
Ah yes, the central midfield is/was the bread and butter of Porter’s most successful team. Valeri and Higuain are near mirror replicas of one another in a variety of ways. Both are Argentinian, both won MLS Newcomer of the Year awards during their first years in the league (Valeri in 2013 & Higuain in 2012), both are dynamic and visionary, with the ability to create and score. Both are the prototypical # 10’s. While Higuain may not have the stamina and motor that Valeri did, the strengths and abilities are indistinguishable.

Not unlike Darlington Nagbe, Crew captain Wil Trapp also played for Porter at University of Akron. While Trapp is more of a connector on the field, as his job is to link the backline to the midfield, Nagbe was more of a swiss army knife. It took several seasons under Porter before he found his niche within the center mid. Porter tried him at winger, in the attack, and all throughout the center midfield. He seemed to roam, while Trapp holds steady in front of his defense.

Diego Chara was the engine for the Timbers. He had bite in his tackles, bulldozed his way through opposing players, and earned a record number of fouls and cards. On the other hand, Artur, is steadier and even keeled. He is undoubtedly an unsung hero for the Crew. Where Chara may be the loud diesel engine that roars in a Dodge Ram pickup truck, Artur is the quieter and more efficient electric motor of a Tesla.

The current crop of center mids of this Crew roster are perfectly suited for Porter style soccer (and I don’t necessarily mean Porterball). The aforementioned three are a fantastic blend of skill and determination. More finesses than power, but not particularly lacking in either department. Coach Porter can easily plug and play with this current group from day one, though I do think the Timbers had the better overall core.
Advantage: Timbers

Wingers
Lucas Melano & Rodney Wallace v Justin Meram & Pedro Santos
Melano was a massive disappointment under Porter in Portland. He was such an unmitigated disaster, he was loaned off for a year and a half, in hopes that he would play his way out of town. Melano didn’t perform at a high enough level while on loan, and he was reluctantly brought back to the Timbers last summer.

This is more or less the polar opposite of Justin Meram’s time with Columbus. From 2011 to 2017, Meram was one of the Crew’s most prolific scorers. He ended his 2017 season with 13 goals, finishing second on the team. However, in the offseason he requested a trade from central Ohio and was shipped away to a dreadful Orlando City team. While playing in the purple kits, Meram managed a measly one goal and one assist. He eventually found his way back to Columbus with the hope now he will be comfortable again and able to play to his previous standards.

Rodney Wallace was an integral member of the Timbers title team. His left-foot provided goals and pinpoint crosses. His pace and grit up-and-down the wing was unmatched. I was astonished the Timbers allowed him to walk after that season. He outplayed his contract and rightfully demanded more money, but the Timbers balked, and off Wallace went to Europe. He eventually found his way back to MLS with NYC FC. Too bad he didn’t join Coach Porter in the black and gold.

Remember that grit and pace I babbled on about Wallace earlier? Well, that is not quite the same vernacular I would use to describe Crew winger, Pedro Santos. While talented and crafty on paper, he spends far too much of his actual game minutes flopping and/or being knocked off the ball too easily. He is averaging exactly one-half (.5) of a goal per season, during his stint in Columbus. Porter should look to upgrade here, pronto.
Advantage: None

Center Forward
Fanendo Adi v Gyasi Zardes
Like many strikers, Fanendo Adi is a very streaky goalscorer. I swear it seemed as if he scored either two goals per game or none. If you look up “brace” in the soccer dictionary, I am certain you will see Adi’s picture. The 6’4 long and rangy #9 was the proverbial bull in a china shop while roaming the 18-yard box. Adi netted 54 goals over five MLS seasons with the Timbers.

Zardes reemerged as one of the leagues premier goal producers in 2018, his first season with the Crew. After lighting the league on fire in 2014 with LA Galaxy when he accumulated 16 goals, he crashed back down to earth from 2015 to 2017, where he combined for a sparse 14 goals over three seasons. He was dealt to Columbus prior to last year and found the back of the net a staggering 19 times. Barring a Crew sophomore slump, Zardes is the type of player Porter can count on in the right system. While I am not so certain Caleb will garner another 19-goal output from Zardes or any one player for that matter, as Porter teams generally tend to score by committee (minus Valeri’s 21 goal spree in 2017), I do foresee Zardes being a consistent goal manufacturer again.
Advantage: Timbers

Depth
Will Johnson / Jack Jewsbury / Maximiliano Urruti v Josh Williams & Nico Hansen
One area in which the current Crew roster is lacking in comparison to the Timbers of old, is depth and veteran leadership. The Timbers had the likes of Will Johnson and Jack Jewsbury. Both of which were MLS stalwarts and who had long-lasting fruitful careers within the league.

Even Maxi Urruti was a forward who could be counted on to score in a pinch. At one point, he and Adi seemed to be juggling between the starting lineup, as Porter only played with one striker. The depth was critical to the team’s championship run.

I am quite certain the lack of veteran depth today will refrain from being an issue once Porter and new general manager, Tim Bezbatchenko start moving and shaking. Do not be surprised to see battle tested Jewsbury / Johnson type players into the fold sooner rather than later.
Advantage: Timbers

The Future is Bright
All and all, I think this Porter led Crew team is setup for immediate success. Furthermore, the squad has enough young building blocks to sustain that success for a lengthy run. A young roster, two young guns in charge (Porter and Bez), a new energized ownership group, a reinvigorated fan base, and soon enough a brand spanking new stadium, Columbus will be a formidable foe in MLS for years to come.
Advantage: Crew

Timbers versus Crew at Crew Stadium from my vantage point during the 2015 MLS Cup.

Timbers versus Crew at Crew Stadium from my vantage point during the 2015 MLS Cup.

Who Will be the Next Columbus Crew GM?

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Now that it has been officially announced that the Crew will be staying put in their rightful home of Columbus, Ohio, the next order of business is filling the head coach and general manager positions. It is widely known, though not yet official, that former Portland Timbers head coach, Caleb Porter, will be manning the sidelines for the Crew this upcoming season. The Crew out offered western conference powerhouse, LA Galaxy, with a reported 5-year, $5 million deal. A big bold move by the Crew.

As for the general manager spot, three marquee names have reportedly been interviewed…

Bruce Arena
The first reported candidate was longtime LA Galaxy, DC United, and USMNT head coach, Bruce Arena. As to not rehash his litany of accomplishments, check out my article from earlier this month to read all about his exemplary career. While yes, Columbus and LA are on two distinctly different sides of the financial spectrum, few people know how to manage the ever-changing roster guidelines of MLS than “The Bruce”. The Galaxy are infamous for their high-profile signings (ever heard of David Beckham??) they also invested heavily in player development, which produced solid MLS players along the way. One of which just so happens to be on the current Columbus Crew roster, Gyasi Zardes.

As head coach and general manager of LA Galaxy from 2008 to 2016, Bruce built his second MLS dynasty (his first was with DC United). He is a proven winner and has the soccer acumen to precisely navigate the murky personnel waters of Major League Soccer. The superstars of his LA teams garnered the headlines, but the grunt work of players like, Juninho, Baggio Husidic, Stefan Ishizaki, Alan Gordon, Todd Dunivant, etc. are what made the teams complete and led them to winning 3 MLS Cups.

Ali Curtis
Infamous for “The Plan”, Ali Curtis took over the New York Red Bulls in 2014, complete with a 300-page document that outlined his long-term vision for building an MLS powerhouse. After taking over, he immediately replaced wildly popular head coach Mike Petke with Jesse Marsch. While such a move drew strong criticism from fans, he was vindicated in 2015 when the Red Bulls won the MLS Supporters Shield. Curtis has been out of the league since he and RBNY parted ways just prior to the 2017 season.

Contrary to popular belief, RBNY is not and has not been a “big money team” in several years, thus Columbus is more of a fit than people think. New York’s departure from the big market, big money spending can be directly tied to Curtis. His 300-page plan consisted of cutting the team payroll, instead focusing resources on developing the pipeline from the RBNY academy to the senior team. He also pushed to overhaul the team system and schematics, by implementing a high-pressure smothering defense and quick counter-attacking offense. This identity was successfully executed from the youth teams, all the way through to the first-division team.

He also implemented the club's reserve team, New York Red Bulls II (also known as “the Baby Bulls), which compete in United Soccer League. The Baby Bulls went on to win the USL title in 2016, with budding superstars, Tyler Adams, Aaron Long, Alex Muyl and Sean Davis, all whom developed through the academy system, before ascending to the first-team.

Tim Bezbatchenko
Tim Bezbatchenko (nicknamed Bez) is still young in age but possesses extensive experience. He has been serving in the league since 2010, where he spent three years as the league Senior Director of Player Relations & Competition. In that role, he negotiated and drafted player contracts and finalized loan and transfer agreements. Bez is a central Ohio native, who has shown well on the biggest stage in MLS. He is currently senior vice president and general manager of Toronto FC. According to The Columbus Dispatch, Bez is the current front runner to named GM of the Crew.

Since taking the reins in 2013, Bez has overseen the acquisition of essentially every player on the current TFC roster. From former MLS MVP, Sebastian Giovinco, to USMNT staples, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, to league stalwarts Drew Moor and Justin Morrow. Toronto has been a massive success on and off the field during his run. He was integral in building the team that made the MLS Cup final in 2016 and won the league in 2017. His pedigree is tremendous and local ties to the central Ohio area are peerless.

The Final Countdown
Any of the three aforementioned candidates being announced as general manager would be a big coup for the new ownership group, the fans, and the club. Each one has a history of success, all have a strong understanding of the leagues interworkings, yet each still have something left to prove. Of the three, which would work best with a tough-minded coach like Caleb Porter?

Arena and Porter had their jousts while in the heat of battle during their days of managing the LA Galaxy and Portland Timbers, respectively. Though I don’t fathom such feelings continue to linger today. Curtis is very stringent and particular with how he governs a club. I am not so sure Porter’s mentality gels well with such a managerial style. That is merely my opinion from afar, so take it with a grain of salt.

That leaves Bez! And if The Dispatch is accurate with it’s reporting, the Bez / Porter duo does sound quite appealing. I don’t know if it is just the excitement of two young guns potentially working together for the foreseeable future that gets me going, but I truly believe a Bez / Porter partnership could lead to a small market club making big ripples in the MLS pool. That is my hope, but truth be told, the Crew can’t go wrong with any of these three distinguished men. Only time will tell. Go Crew!

 

Rest in Peace, Sigi Schmid

You would be hard-pressed to find a more accomplished coach within the United States soccer-sphere than Sigi Schmid. Schmid began a successful 19-year run as head coach of the UCLA Bruins Men’s Soccer program in 1980. During that time, he led the Bruins to three national titles (1985, 1990, 1997). He was named national coach of the year following the 1997 championship. He accumulated a record of 322-63-33 in the college ranks.

Schmid went on to become Major League Soccer’s all-time winningest coach. Manning the sidelines for LA Galaxy, Columbus Crew and Seattle Sounders, he led teams to two MLS Cup championships, five U.S. Open Cup titles and was named MLS Coach of the Year twice. Far too often, a term like “legend” is haphazardly thrown around, but in Schmid’s case, it was well earned. His resume was impeccable. Given his astonishing success, I had always hoped and rooted for Sigi to be granted the USMNT head coaching gig. He was tactically brilliant, detail oriented and highly regarded. My wonderment as to why it never seemed he garnered serious consideration for the position may never cease.

Like many within U.S. Soccer, I was shocked and saddened today by the news of his untimely passing at the ripe young age of 65. Reportedly, he was hospitalized three weeks ago awaiting a heart transplant. My hope and I am sure the hopes of many, was that the lack of news in recent weeks was good news. Regretfully for us all, that was not the case.

I did not have the privilege of personally knowing Coach Schmid, having only met the gentleman for one brief moment. But for me, it was a moment I will never forget. The United Soccer Coaches convention in 2017 took place in Los Angeles. Naturally, a soccer nerd like myself was in full geek out mode the entire weekend. With a myriad of events throughout the 5 days, the schedule was daunting, but a chalk talk with Bruce Arena and Sigi Schmid was a given. Attendance for such an occurrence was non-negotiable, everything else in my world was thrown to the wayside.

As an aspiring coach, I had studied Sigi for a decade and a half. I had rooted for him at every stop in his MLS career. How could someone root against such a phenomenal coach and person? Bruce and Sigi have been two pillars within my “Coaching Holy Trinity” (the other being Caleb Porter) for years, so seeing this spectacle on the agenda, I became the proverbial kid in a candy store with his mom’s credit card. Life couldn’t have been better!

I’ll skip all of the minutiae of the talk, other than to mention that Bruce and Sigi both gracefully and astutely answered my question about the U.S.’s chances of hosting the World Cup in the near future. Afterwards, I had the opportunity to shake Sigi’s hand and thanked him for his time. That was it! My encounter was minuscule and Coach Schmid probably forgot about it before he even left the venue. But to me, it was a moment in time I will forever cherish.

It was a mere four months ago that he was on the sidelines guiding the Galaxy, so it is unfathomable to think that his physical being has left us. However, a man as talented, respected and adored as Sigi, will live in all of our spirits for a lifetime. The positive impact he made on so many people will carry itself forward to the next generation of players, coaches and fans. Coach Schmid left a legacy at every stop during his long coaching journey. He elevated players, he inspired fellow coaches, and he enhanced our sport. Simply put, he made the world around him a better place. In the grand scheme of things, I would say that is the lasting impact we could all hope for in life. RIP, Coach Schmid!

Coach Schmid with the MLS Cup after leading the Columbus Crew to victory in 2008.

Coach Schmid with the MLS Cup after leading the Columbus Crew to victory in 2008.

Bruce Arena for Crew GM?? Yes, please! Crew fans should rejoice!

In my 34 years of life on this planet, you would think my astonishment of idiocy within sports fandom would have been long dismantled. When they are at their best, sports fan can be passionate, knowledgeable and logical. Though at their worst, they can be emotional, fickle, reactionary and at times just plain old dumb. Want a perfect example of this? Take the breaking news from today of Bruce Arena potentially being the next Columbus Crew general manager. There are actually a contingent of Crew fans out there that have the gall and audacity to speak negatively of this potential hire. Clearly, those are the ‘plain old dumb’ ones I referenced previously!

The vocal minority of sport fans never cease to amaze me with their ill informed, uneducated and emphatic opinions. We have all heard it before, whether at a sports bar, a stadium, or even at a gathering with friends watching a sporting event at home. The guy who states the most moronic opinion with such gusto, where all we can do is scratch our heads in bewilderment. Plain and simple, any Crew fans not losing their minds in excitement over this potential move just simply do not get it.

Unfortunately, the manner in which a significant chunk of U.S. Soccer fans overreacted and now dismiss this mans mountain of accomplishments, due to one fateful night in Trinidad is surreal. Did Arena fail as USMNT coach in that game? Of course! He is at fault, as are the players who strolled into that game feeling entitled and guaranteed of a positive result. In the 11th hour of World Cup qualifying, Arena was handed a pile of crap by Jurgen Klinsmann and U.S. Soccer, and was asked to turn it into some sort of gold. U.S. Soccer failed, and Arena will forever unceremoniously go down as the face of that embarrassing failure.

Regardless, he could retire today and his career would truly be legendary. And I don’t use that term haphazardly. I am adamant that within U.S. Soccer circles, it doesn’t get much more legendary than Bruce Arena. Don’t believe me? Here is a snapshot of his coaching accomplishments, spanning from the college ranks to the international level:

University of Virginia
College Cup (5): 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994
ACC Men's Soccer Tournament (6): 1988, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995

D.C. United
MLS Cup (2): 1996, 1997
MLS Supporters' Shield: 1997
MLS Eastern Conference (3): 1996, 1997, 1998
U.S. Open Cup: 1996
CONCACAF Champions' Cup: 1998
Interamerican Cup: 1998

LA Galaxy
MLS Cup (3): 2011, 2012, 2014
MLS Supporters' Shield (2): 2010, 2011
MLS Western Conference (4): 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014

MLS Coach of the Year: 1997, 2009, 2011

USMNT
CONCACAF Gold Cup (3): 2002, 2005, 2017
World Cup Quarterfinal 2002
Most USMNT wins
Highest winning percentage in USMNT history

Yes, those are accomplishments as a head coach, not a general manager. I get that 100%, but Bruce was also the GM for LA Galaxy. Yes, the Galaxy do have gobs of finances and resources to build a championship caliber roster, I understand that completely. But he is a proven winner and someone who understands how to navigate the murky personnel waters of Major League Soccer.

When the news first leaked on Monday afternoon that a GM with “strong ties to MLS and U.S. Soccer” was being considered, naturally my initial thought was Bruce Arena. I was being just as facetious as I was serious. Not thinking that a man as accomplished and with the clout of Bruce Arena would be interested in taking charge of the Columbus Crew. His accomplishments are wide-ranging and a mile deep. One blip, no matter how mammoth, should take away from that. Columbus Crew fans should be ecstatic at the possibility of Arena in this role. With much emphasis and gusto, I say, bring on The Bruce!

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