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From Zero (Goals) to Hero in 90-120 Minutes Flat?

Soccer games rarely go according to a script, unless that script is manipulated by a deceitful owner and complicit league commissioner. The Columbus Crew SC tied Toronto FC nil-nil in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Final in front of a capacity crowd last night, dispersed inside and outside the stadium.

As attendees have shown via Twitter for the second consecutive Crew playoff game in Columbus, and the second home game post-Anthony Precourt’s maddening Austin announcement, uncharacteristically long lines of fans trying to get into a purposefully (and shameful) reduced number of entrances into the stadium before kickoff again proves the owner of the Crew will stop at nothing to sabotage his own club’s local support on prime time television. Sitting in my seat after arriving more an hour and a half before kickoff, the three gentlemen who filled my row in section 128 to my left several minutes into the match excited, yet visibly pissed off. Immediately after sitting down next to me, one of these guys said there was still a crazy large number of fans trying to get into Crew Stadium through an unusually long bottleneck formation. He said he’d never seen a backup like this at Crew Stadium…ever. I proceeded to say “Precourt’s acting like an asshole again” and he replied, “Yeah!”

The game on the pitch had its fair share of kickball and poor passes, yet there were half a dozen quality moments that nearly redefined the outcome as a raucous and triumphant 2-nil victory for the Crew against the 2017 Supporters Shield winner Toronto FC. Now, those two goals weren’t scored. That’s the reality. However, Harrison Afful, Justin Meram and Ola Kamara and Co. certainly had chances. If they had scored, the 21,289 fans would’ve erupted (possibly in a literal sense).

A nil-nil result is not the best result, nor is it the worst for Columbus. Not conceding an away goal was a major plus last night. Still, a goal or two for Columbus would have been insanely good. Once again, that didn’t happen, so we must move on to reality. Now, if Columbus scores an away goal and wins or ties 1-0 or 1-1, the Crew will shock the world and move onto MLS Cup. But with Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco back for the second leg (Toronto FC’s offensive firepower), at least one goal will likely be scored for the Canadian side, if not two under reasonable expectations. The positive news for the Crew is their style is offensive-minded, therefore, expect the final third crew in black & gold to be ready to counter and attack, attack, attack.

That one away goal for the Crew could be their ticket to host MLS Cup. Two goals for the Columbus would, barring the unthinkable collapse of the backline and the incredible Zack Steffen, deflate “the greatest team in the history of MLS.”

That’s the best, or most likely, case scenario on the pitch.

Off the pitch, an ongoing PR nightmare for Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt and MLS Commissioner Don Garber might be the only solution to change the stalemate calculus for #SaveTheCrew at this point. In the age of social media and 24/7 news, that’s possible. Once again, the drumbeat against these snakes must keep getting louder and more visible to the powers that be in MLS who have influence above MLS Commissioner Don Garber. And by “powers that be,” I mean the big money men and women who sponsor and fund MLS, including owners who might still understand the difference between right and wrong.

If the Crew can pull-off an Eastern Conference Championship, then Columbus would host MLS Cup because of a higher regular season point total compared to the Western Conference Final teams Seattle and Houston. The 2017 Crew has been called “a team of destiny” and the chance to host MLS Cup would be fitting for this wild script that’s been unfolding throughout the past couple months.

Imagine the Crew hosting MLS Cup with a sold-out Crew Stadium on the biggest day and stage for MLS with chants locked-and-loaded with vocal support by 20,000 or more deeply passionate fans ready to further publicly highlight the deception and sabotage of its host owner and MLS Commissioner for all of MLS to see…

If last night was any indication, Columbus isn’t done yet. Not even close. This Crew, on-and-off the pitch, won’t stop working.

P.S. Michael Bradley’s 2017 tour as an ungrateful, entitled a$$hole continues after he commented on the Crew’s potential move to Austin as a sound decision, as well as that Crew Stadium is essentially unworthy of his presence during a post-match interview last night. What about the amazing atmosphere of Dos-a-Cero, Mr. Bradley? This coming from a player who led the USMNT’s supremely pathetic campaign in which they failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup next summer. Although, now it’s like father, like son in terms of former USMNT Head Coach Bob Bradley and USMNT captain Michael Bradley each being responsible for throwing an entire World Cup cycle down the drain (2010 and 2018).   

Moreover, if the Crew end up hosting MLS Cup, you can guess who will be invited to sit in the owner’s box beside Anthony Precourt, Andy Loughnane, Dave Greeley and Don Garber. Columbus and U.S. soccer fans won’t soon forget what’s happened this year, as well as who said what.    

#SaveTheCrew 

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Happy Monday

#SaveTheCrew, like the Crew’s current playoff run, will not yield to the toughest obstacles or be blinded by the brightest lights. In preparation for tomorrow’s sold-out first leg of the 2017 MLS Eastern Conference Final against visiting Supporters’ Shield winner Toronto FC on prime-time television, fans are painting flags and banners, writing and memorizing chants and marketing the first club in MLS history with unwavering passion and dedication.

Since “Happy Monday” was designed as an uplifting weekly blog post, the deception and acts of sabotage by Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt, Crew SC President of Business Operations Andy Loughnane, President of Precourt Sports Ventures Dave Greeley and MLS Commissioner Don Garber will not be explored today. Instead, please enjoy a great throwback to the ’80s with a special Columbus connection by YouTube user, and New York Red Bulls fan, JasonRBNY.

The ties that bind the Crew together will be heard loud and clear tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. on ESPN in #Massive black & gold fashion.

Have a Better Week Than Last Week. 

#SaveTheCrew 

The Empire Strikes Back at Its Own Crew

The Empire (MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt) issued a statement in response to their first meeting with Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and the President and CEO of the Columbus Partnership Alex Fischer (the Resistance) that took place yesterday in New York.

Precourt Sports Ventures and Major League Soccer met this afternoon in New York City with Mayor Ginther and Alex Fischer, at the request of the city, in anticipation of being presented an actionable plan and a legitimate offer that would advance efforts to improve Crew SC’s long-term ability to operate and compete in Columbus.  Both PSV and the league entered the meeting with open minds, no demands and a complete willingness to listen and entertain concrete ideas or a meaningful proposal from the city’s representatives at the meeting. 

We were extremely disappointed that no concrete offer or proposal was presented and then told by the City of Columbus that it would not communicate with us past today.

Precourt Sports Ventures made a clear commitment to Columbus four years ago by purchasing 100 percent of Columbus Crew SC.  In the meantime, despite successful efforts to reinvent the brand and improve the Club, market challenges for Crew SC in Columbus continue to mount. 

Despite the city’s refusal to make a real offer and its decision to cease conversations, we remain open to a productive dialogue if the City of Columbus reconsiders.  Columbus Crew SC remains focused on our quest to win MLS Cup.

The following are just a few reactions to a statement that would otherwise be comical if the truth wasn’t so infuriating.

Reaction #1: Anthony Precourt of PSV and Don Garber have been working together to take the Crew out of Columbus for around four years. Their sleazy mission has not changed. That being said, honesty is not the strong suit of Mr. Precourt or Mr. Garber, so phrases like “open minds,” “no demands” and “clear commitment to Columbus” fall on deaf ears. The Empire has no integrity in this situation, so that’s the starting point with their statement that was released yesterday.

Reaction #2: The “market challenges for Crew SC in Columbus continue to mount” is quite a charge to make considering the ongoing sabotaging efforts by Mr. Precourt and PSV as reported just weeks ago.

“It seems Precourt’s story behind the proposed move away from Columbus rests heavily on a lack of sponsorship interest locally, but anecdotal evidence points to exactly the opposite, and also points to manipulation of sponsorship prices,” Columbus executive and soccer fan Anthony Olejniczak told me. “Those disparate accounts need to be reconciled with evidence.”
–Laura Newpoff, Columbus Business First reporter, “Columbus Crew sponsors say deals have gotten pricier”

And Mr. Precourt has not disproven these assertions.

Reaction #3: “Columbus Crew SC remains focused on our quest to win MLS Cup” is, to put it discretely, a line of BS. When #SaveTheCrew is the leading marketing force producing what’s projected to be a sell-out for this Tuesday’s game against Toronto FC, coupled with acts of deception throughout the fast few years, the only reason why Mr. Precourt and PSV are rooting for an MLS Cup champion are so Austin will be happy with a stolen team that’s won its second MLS Cup. Another curious component in that sentence is “our quest.”

After formally telling Columbus that he’s actively looking to move the Crew to Austin last month, he made sure to make this telling correction via Twitter, as reported in “#SaveTheCrew is What We’ll Do.”

Then this.

Put you all in, not us.

— Anthony Precourt (@APrecourt) October 19, 2017

The words “our quest” by Mr. Precourt is yet another line of BS.

What’s next?

Hopefully, a Crew win against heavy favorites Toronto FC in Crew Stadium this Tuesday night on ESPN at 8:00 p.m. on prime-time television. After this match, which will hopefully be a win, there need to be lots of stories by major outlets detailing the inspired playoff performances of the Crew in light of off-field speculation. The drumbeat must get louder every day for the foreseeable future.

On a bright note, it seems highly improbable there will be no next meeting in the coming weeks and months, especially considering this magical playoff run isn’t over in 2017 and since the Crew is guaranteed to remain in Columbus for the 2018 season. There’s time. Part of this effort, however, does require the Crew to keep winning.

The games on the pitch aside, another nervous component for #SaveTheCrew fans is keeping this story on the front page of the news and building proof for reporters locally, nationally and internationally to cover the extensive and deliberate deceit by Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt. Mr. Precourt’s choreographed “business metrics” that project a negative picture in Columbus has misled and is misleading some of the most influential power players in American soccer for the purpose of supporting his mission as the owner, which is to rip the Crew out of Columbus.

As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast, my friend!” Now amplify that sentiment by twenty thousand people who will be rockin’ and rollin’ next week in the first soccer-specific stadium in the United States, cheering on their team’s playoff (and long-term) survival.

No broad support for the Crew in Columbus, Mr. Precourt, and Mr. Garber? Tune into ESPN this Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. ET. I’m guessing there will be a sell-out crowd and a customized chant, courtesy of the Nordecke, written just for you two. If you thought “Dos-a-Cero” made for intense soccer environments…

#SaveTheCrew  

The First (Meeting) WAS the Worst

Today’s first meeting in New York between Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and the President and CEO of the Columbus Partnership Alex Fischer (the Resistance) and scumbag MLS Commissioner Don Garber and scumbag Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt (the Empire) resulted in what can be described as a major bummer. Here’s the statement from the Resistance:

“We met with Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber and Columbus Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt in New York today. It is clear the MLS and ownership did not come to the meeting willing to commit to staying in Columbus. We know this is heartbreaking for the dedicated fans in Columbus and across the country who have shown unwavering support for the Columbus Crew SC.

“We are disappointed and frustrated. We were united in putting all options on the table, with the expectation in return that the MLS and ownership would cease pursuing moving the team to Austin. Great American cities do not get into bidding wars over sports teams to benefit private owners. Garber and Precourt were not willing to do that today.

“Once the league and owner are committed to Columbus, we stand ready, willing and able to support the team’s success.

“On November 21, standing alongside the best soccer fans in the country at MAPFRE stadium, we will be cheering Black and Gold onto victory. Glory to Columbus.”   

Reaction #1: The fact the meeting today was held in New York was a bad sign from the beginning. It does, however, clarify to the follower and non-follower of #SaveTheCrew that Mr. Garber and Mr. Precourt are forever linked as the two evil forces who have been plotting for four-years to rip the Crew from Columbus through lying, deceitful practices. Since this mess started with secret, backdoor deals, talks to #SaveTheCrew should not have been held behind closed doors, especially in any city other than Columbus.

Reaction #2: The phrase “We are disappointed and frustrated” made its way into the good side’s public statement, which reveals that Mayor Ginther and Mr. Fischer were not savvy enough and/or ready for the first round of the epic fight to keep the Crew in Columbus. Mayor Ginther and Mr. Fischer understand the process for normal business deals, but this is not an ordinary business negotiation. Normal business language won’t cut it, inside and outside of meetings. I’m on their side, but their current tone is feeble in the midst of an inspiring run by the Crew that gives them an upper-hand in the debate. Were they prepared for this kind of fixed meeting by the Empire? Do they have a long-term strategy we don’t know about? Hopefully.

And then there is “Once the league and owner are committed to Columbus, we stand ready, willing and able to support the team’s success.” Well, the Empire is clearly not committed to Columbus or even basic human decency, that’s the problem! Patience is a virtue, but ignorant and do-nothing patience is nonsensical. Strong, effective persuasion has to be part of the #SaveTheCrew business solution. What happened?

Reaction #3: I still believe this is just the beginning of the fight to keep the first and most important club in MLS in the soccer capital of the United States of America. The latter part of that statement is true and I can write a dissertation on that assertion. That aside, if the social media era has proven anything, it’s that an ongoing PR disaster can move mountains (cough cough United Airlines). #SaveTheCrew and its media allies have and must continue to reveal, well, the mountain of lies and deceitful practices from Mr. Precourt and Mr. Garber to the most visible and most consequential audiences for maximum exposure and impact. The facts are on the side of #SaveTheCrew. At a certain point, these facts will reach a boiling point and that’s when the right change can and hopefully will occur.

Columbus Crew outsiders and skeptics in an equal measure may consider the grassroots guerilla marketing campaign to #SaveTheCrew to be admirable, but ultimately all for naught because its opposition is the duplicitous partnership of a powerful business firm Precourt Sports Ventures and institutional force Major League Soccer (MLS). Fair point. The odds aren’t great and the deck is stacked against Columbus and integrity. And yet consider this movement that grew from a hashtag just a few weeks ago is driving a city of passionate fans dressed in black & gold towards a sell-out first-leg of the 2017 MLS Eastern Conference Final for the host Columbus Crew against the top-seeded Canadian visitors from Toronto FC despite a cold forecast. What if Crew fans deliver an electric, sold-out atmosphere and the Crew players deliver another magical playoff win as quintessential small market underdogs?

That would be another massive statement on national television post-Austin news last month.

Determined people with a positive, unified mission have a proven track record of taking down goliaths if the right tact is developed and utilized. #SaveTheCrew has shown great tact and is evolving and growing stronger by the day at the grassroots level.

So, am I saying there’s a chance to keep the Crew in Columbus after another two-faced and staged meeting set-up by the Empire? Yes. A seismic change in strategy in reaction to this devastating development is necessary, but it’s possible. #SaveTheCrew wouldn’t be the first unthinkable upset in soccer history but it would be one of the greatest and most significant. The identity of Columbus and similarly small market soccer clubs, as well as American soccer, is at stake.

And that’s not a game we can lose.

#SaveTheCrew