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Breaking AP News: He’s an A$$hole

Heartless, conniving and only out for himself without any regard for people not worth millions of dollars.

Fitting with the times we live, Crew SC scumbag owner Anthony Precourt has all but finalized a deal to move the Charter member of Major League Soccer (MLS) away from America’s soccer capital in Columbus, OH westward to Austin, TX in 2019. There’s even a report that Mr. Precourt will be in Austin tomorrow. And the only way to prevent this disgustingly greedy and despicable move is, according to Precourt, for Columbus, OH citizens to fork over the money for a new stadium closer to downtown…or else! 

When Anthony Precourt arrived with his venture capitalistic mojo, it was presumed that he would use this business mentality to take the Crew to the next-level. Apparently, his plan all along was to buy an MLS club (the very first one in league history), concoct a contract with a sneaky escape clause (he wouldn’t move the club in 10 years unless that destination was Austin, TX), pretend to care about fans and, behind their backs surely support the registration of two names for an MLS club in Austin.

Earlier this year, Major League Soccer registered “Austin FC” and “Austin Athletic” as trademarks. MLS executive vice president Dan Courtemanche told the Statesman that Austin would not be considered for one of the four remaining expansion slots but did not respond to a question about relocation.
–Kevin Lyttle, Austin American-Statesman, October 17, 2017

Then there’s this.

On the call, the Crew owner said no one from the city had stepped up with a “serious” offer to keep the team in Columbus.

That was disputed by Alex Fischer, CEO of the Columbus Partnership, an organization of top city business leaders.

“We offered to buy, literally, 50 percent of the team,” Fischer told me.
–Laura Newpoff, Columbus Business First, October 17, 2017

And this.

“No investor presented an offer,” Precourt said. “We must begin strategic alternatives to secure long-term vitality.”

Again, Fischer disputes that.

“We won’t let emotions override our primary resolve” for the team to remain in the city, Fischer said. “We have specifically asked the owner to propose to us what would work.

“He hasn’t done that yet but we would hope and expect he would. In the meantime, we stand with the members of the team and fans who are very emotional today. We share that emotion.”
–Laura Newpoff, Columbus Business First, October 17, 2017 

Does Anthony Precourt remind you of anybody?

The Columbus Crew has won championships (Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, MLS Cup and three Supporters’ Shields). Columbus Crew fans have paid their hard-earned money and supported the club since its debut in 1996 against D.C. United in the Horseshoe. It was a momentous 4-nil win for the Crew. And I should know as I was there with my dad. Fans in Columbus pack the stands beyond capacity to cheer on the red, white and blue with unrivaled pride. Crew Stadium has hosted the most memorable games against That Team Down South (my trademark is still pending) with many iconic “Dos-a-Cero” victories.

If there are business struggles with the club, it’s Anthony Precourt’s job to fix them. Period! That’s why he’s paid a huge salary and has the prestigious title of owner of a storied MLS club. That’s why bought an MLS club, right? To support the club and its city? Wrong. 

He’s supposed to care, but he doesn’t.

He doesn’t care about the dedicated fans spanning several generations who will no longer have a professional soccer team to cheer for, support and make cherished memories with Columbus and its iconic Crew Stadium. He doesn’t care about the stadium workers who will be out of a job. He doesn’t care about the storied history of soccer in Columbus, OH, ranging from the Crew to the USMNT to its elite youth club soccer programs. He doesn’t care about Lamar Hunt’s amazing mission and success story in bringing MLS to Columbus. He doesn’t care that he pretended to admire this city and its people. He just doesn’t care.

The problem with all that is that everybody in Columbus cares. A lot!    

It’s actually quite difficult to express all my feelings in a single blog post, but this is a mere start (at 1,000+ words). There are more than 20-years of emotions and memories to reflect on, including my trip to Los Angeles to watch the Columbus Crew defeat the New York Red Bulls in the 2008 MLS Cup.

After waiting for more than a decade, with superstars like Brian McBride (MLS’s first overall pick), Brad Friedel and Stern John and many others have proudly sporting the Black & Gold over the years, the Crew finally hoisted the MLS Cup in triumphant glory! I was with my parents and it was truly a surreal and amazing moment. Unforgettable.

The Columbus Crew were, in fact, the MASSIVE champions of Major League Soccer.

I remember the joy, the celebration and the feeling of being a champion because every fan of this club feels like they are part of it, right there on the pitch with the players. And the players and coaches make (made?) sure the fans felt that way. Being a fan of the Crew is a unique experience. We have always been one with the club and the club has always been one with the city, regardless of the no-nothing suits of MLS (cough cough Don Garber) and no-nothing big city critics.

As I mentioned, I watched the Crew win its first MLS Cup in the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles. And while that stadium is newer than Crew Stadium, it looked and felt like every other cookie-cutter MLS stadium you see being built around the league these days. It’s generic. There’s no great story or lineage there. It’s not unique. Now, the Crew winning MLS Cup for its city and its citizens was unique and special. Moreover, Crew Stadium is the first soccer-specific stadium in the United States of America. The USMNT’s best accomplishments are defeating That Team Down South (my trademark is still pending) by “Dos-a-Cero.” Crew Stadium has hosted multiple World Cup qualifying matches, MLS Cups, an All-Star game and women’s World Cup games. Columbus, OH has earned the title as THE soccer capital of the United States.

Columbus’s story is a perfect encapsulation of America’s soccer story in that nothing comes easy and it’s constantly viewed as unable to rise to the occasion. And yet, when that moment arrives, guess who is there to stand tall and deliver unforgettable results with passion, skill and memories unlike any other? That’s right: Columbus.

Columbus’s soccer story is America’s soccer story; one of an underdog that rises to be a champion.

If that first ballot, hall of fame a$$hole Anthony Precourt can’t see that, well…once again, he doesn’t care.

History will show that Columbus’s soccer story has been proud, distinguished, innovative and unrivaled whereas Anthony Precourt’s soccer story is one of failure, deceit, sleaziness and deliberate tragedy that can be found in the gutter of American sports alongside the USMNT that failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

Somehow, someway, the Crew and its fans need to rise to its fiercest challenge ever:

Extinction.

Much like the Crew’s original logo, it’s time to put on the hard hats and for the city to get to work.

P.S. Want to buy a soccer club, Les Wexner? With a net worth of $5.7 billion, you could continue to support and define the evolving story of Columbus in the only way you know how: 

With massive intent and delivery.  

The Smack and Scold

If this were Medieval times (the era, not the restaurant), Columbus and Los Angeles would be preparing for a joust between a 20-year knight and a hotshot newcomer of the soccer kingdom.

The Columbus Crew SC, one of the first ten teams of Major League Soccer (MLS), has been defined by its colors. So much so that the club affectionately and proudly goes by the nickname, “The Black & Gold.” Their sobriquet and trademark color scheme, unique in MLS for 20 years, has exclusively distinguished Columbus and its fans from the other original 9 teams and continues to stand-out among the league’s 20 other clubs.

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(Original Logo, 1996)

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(New Logo, 2015)

 

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(Nordecke, Google+)

Until now.

The 22nd club recently entered MLS: LA FC.

Just as they’ve become the second MLS team in Los Angeles (adios Chivas USA), the frustration they will receive from soccer fans in Columbus will be second to none when they visit for a soccer match in the future (except for Portland).

Why?

The LA FC group, less likely blind to reality and more likely deliberately provocative, chose black and gold as its primary colors.

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“Black and Gold embody the success, glamour, and urban texture of Los Angeles.” (LA FC Online)

When thinking of Los Angeles, do you composite the colors black and gold above all others in your mind?

Anthony Precourt tweeted his reaction from the January 7th LA FC presentation.

How does the owner of Crew SC feel about this?

“Hat’s off to @LAFC. Absolutely crushed it with your new crest and colors. @MLS”

He added:

“Only one comment. Columbus Crew SC is the true Black and Gold! Maybe you roll with Gold and Black? @LAFC #CrewSC”

A tweet is one thing, but hopefully Mr. Precourt understands how important tradition and character are to this city and soccer club (the banana kits, cough cough), grows a stronger spine and makes a larger public statement alongside the club’s infectiously energetic ambassador Frankie Hejduk about Crew SC’s decorated (and checkered) history, identity and team-to-team decorum. The brazen brand management color decision made by LA FC, at its core, violates a level of sportsmanship of the beautiful game in MLS.

These are not just colors, but much more. It’s not just poor form, it’s really not cool.

The LA FC logo is fine, but the color choice unmistakably spray paints a lack of respect for its storied Midwestern counterpart. There are dozens of other color combinations they could have selected for this league, but they chose to use a stick instead of a paint brush as their illustrative tool.

LA FC should receive a warm welcome as MLS’s 22nd team. Their entrance is exciting news. However, their naive freshman status does not excuse their team of brand and marketing professionals from deliberately poking Columbus Crew SC in the eye with a stick with tips dripping in friendly shades. LA FC’s logo/crest brainstorming surely involved pictures of every team’s logo and colors with explanations of every team’s history and defining characteristics.

Color Columbus mad.

Actually, coloring just Columbus black & gold is all we want.

The Beautiful Investment

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”
–Wayne Gretzky

Frank Lampard and Steve Gerrard are big signings for Major League Soccer (MLS). Make no mistake about that. However, the seismic shift that will catapult the still youthfully optimistic MLS (turning 20 years-old this year) is, quite literally, youth. This constitutes early 20-somethings born and raised in the United States and (equally and possibly more importantly) early 20-somethings from Europe. The latter are highly-talented players who are groomed in the reserve/youth teams of top clubs for future picking onto the grandest pitches in the world. One of the best at discovering and elevating players through a club’s system is Louis Van Gaal. Ever heard of Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta? How about Thomas Müller and Bastian Schweinsteiger? Yeah, Van Gaal discovered them before they were household names/global stars/World Cup winners. And his track record will continue for years to come, as the aforementioned names are just a few of his stellar sightings. There’s not enough space to get into detail about his successful tenures with some of the top clubs and world-class players, but his instincts for future success is the focus in this post.

Then there’s the modern tactical genius Pep Guardiola. Bayern Munich announced last Friday that Pep had signed the fresh-faced, yet deeply talented 19 year-old German national Joshua Kimmich worth millions. He’s a defensive midfielder who some have reported could be positioned as the future of Bayern’s stout midfield. The point is that there is value in serious investment of youth that requires vision and patience. MLS team have youth teams, but not anywhere close to the level of Europe’s giants. Admittedly, there is a major cultural and financial difference between the U.S. and Europe when it comes to soccer/football. True. But still, until individual MLS teams partner with said European giants who have similar tactical dynamics that includes 1-3 year loans of their youngsters for non-reserve, competitive matches who are not-yet-ready for their first team, the obvious barriers will remain between the United States and its competition (so to speak) across the pond. Most clubs may predictably refrain from moving their players to a foreign country and system from their own, but this is just a suggestion. However, it seems to be the most practical for realistically earning the ear of at least a few future (and unknown) stars.

The next big, truly transformational moment for MLS will be the signing of future household names from here, but especially abroad. Lower the risk for European clubs in these partnerships with the profitable United States soccer market (see Bayern Munich for their insistence/establishment of an American headquarters in NYC) and increase the rewards for MLS teams, fans and investors alike. A majority of these investments will all but certainly be short-term, but it will undeniably take the league to the necessary next level for discovering, training and producing indisputable world-class talent. There is a genuine attraction to living in and playing in the United States. This country is a central piece in the future of global soccer, despite FIFA’s oblivious rejection of a future U.S-hosted World Cup. Plus, it’s clear that David Beckham came here for reasons beyond a substantial paycheck.

U.S. soccer doesn’t have a ceiling, which is an amazing asset to have. The excitement is palpable, particularly during the World Cup. Only time will tell if this hypothesis will ever come to fruition. And to the naysayers out there who openly laugh at this idea, I say why not? The best coaches and clubs view their youth as vitally important future investments. Why not MLS? Dream big for goodness sake! Note that some of these players could be current and/or future members of the USMNT.

If MLS can just get the next Arjen Robben (LOL, sorry about that) young stud (like Julian Green) to turn his head and attention towards the crashing waves of the U.S. for his league play for a couple years before returning back to Bayern Munich, it could be the first wave in something really big on the foreseeable horizon in the United States.

Don’t merely mind the gap…bridge the gap.

A 2-2 Tie Just Doesn’t Sound Right

(Important Disclosure: Since yesterday was not a FIFA-sanctioned day of friendlies, USMNT head coach Jürgen Klinsmann may not have been able to call-up a couple European-based players from their clubs)

A plain golf shirt. Human bomb pops. An MLS-based American team. An international-based American team.

What do you get when you add all these together?

A trip to Brazil this June without a clear travel itinerary or cool clothes to wear.

Last night’s United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) soccer friendly with arch-rival Mexico in front of a pro-U.S. crowd (in Arizona?) fittingly ended in a clouded 2-2 tie. They were up 2-nil at halftime, but conceded two second half goals to a more energized and fluid Mexican squad.

Quick fact: It’s only Dos-a-Cero in Columbus, Ohio. True story.

It was a prototypical tale of two halves and a mixed result that could have used the energetic and offensively dynamic Mix Diskerud (23) of Norway’s Rosenborg BK managing the middle of the pitch with likely Brazil 2014 partner Michael Bradley. Why wasn’t this the case? Because there are, apparently, two U.S. teams. One consists of players based in Europe and elsewhere around the world and the other team includes the best talent of Major League Soccer (MLS). Yesterday’s American lineup versus Mexico was made up of the best MLS players (except for newly American certified Julian Green).

It’s one thing to experiment with such an open tryout during off-peak years, but two months from the biggest soccer tournament in the world?

At this point, words like continuity and confidence should emanate from Jürgen Klinsmann’s USMNT. Yet, words like scattered and phrases like lack of chemistry and static creativity are defining a team that is producing juxtaposing results month-to-month, half-to-half and position-to-position.

Here is a quote from Jürgen Klinsmann after the 2-2 draw regarding the coveted spots in the starting lineup, as reported by Andrew Wiebe on MLS Soccer online.

“Naturally, it’s open,” Klinsmann said. “How much it’s difficult to say.”

A valid question to ask and ponder in April 2014 is this: why isn’t there one cohesive USMNT (a combination of the best players of MLS and abroad) with a select number of players vying for starting spots instead of an open tryout for seemingly every position? Or, more realistically, competing for a nod on the bench as a super sub?

Julian Green (18) did well last night as a substitute, demonstrating his raw speed, energy and his anxiousness to impress.

But what about Aron Jóhannsson (23), who has a relentless attacking mindset? Why isn’t he, who is a forward that could provide much needed excitement and creativity up front, getting more consistent time and experience?

Teams like Germany may use young players or undefined players at the national team level for a friendly, like they did versus the United States in 2013. However, Germany’s A-squad has been all but set for quite some time with only variable changes here and there. And the best (or right) players get their minutes because they are viewed as valuable assets.

As a glass half-full believer, it’s quite possible that Klinsmann’s strategy will pay-off tremendous dividends in ways that have not yet been revealed or imagined on the pitch.

Still, the World Cup is played on a pitch…in 2 months.