The View from Our Crew

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COLUMBUS, OH - July 30, 2013 - 18 years after the Hunt family founded the Columbus Crew franchise they are now selling one of the founding franchises of Major League Soccer.

Photo Credit: Daniel RogersClark Hunt, son of Crew founder Lamar Hunt Sr., announced on Tuesday that the Hunt family had agreed to sell the team to Precourt Sports Ventures, headed by Anthony Precourt.

“We’ve been in a process over the last couple of years to find a minority investor, or several minority investors, in the Crew. As part of that process we were introduced to Anthony Precourt,” Hunt said.

Although the process started as nothing more than selling a small part of the team, it later became clear that Anthony was interested in more than just a part ownership.

“Anthony came to us during the summer and said ‘you know what I’m not interested in just being a minority owner of the Columbus Crew, I want to own the whole team,” Hunt said.

Also on hand was Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman, who stated his gratitude for everything the Hunt family brought to Columbus with the Crew.

Mayor Coleman also welcomed Precourt to Columbus and met with him on Monday to discuss Columbus and the Crew.

“I’ve come to understand his passion for soccer,” said Mayor Coleman. “And he has a genuine interest and commitment to Columbus.”

Based in San Francisco, Precourt is the managing partner of Precourt Capital Management and Precourt Sports Ventures, the latter of which will be buying the Crew.

Although his history is not rooted in sports Precourt was clear that he was committed to bettering the Crew.

“Being here in Columbus as the new Crew chairman is a huge honor for me,” said Precourt in a statement. “It’s the fulfillment of a life-long dream, this club and any sports franchise should be a sacred community asset, that is how we are going to treat the Crew.”

One question on the minds of Crew fans was with new non-local ownership if the team was planning on staying in Columbus.

Mayor Coleman voiced this concern in previous discussions with Precourt.

“You know my first question was, is the Crew staying. He said ‘absolutely the Crew is in Columbus to stay.’”

Crew Stumbles in Toronto

TORONTO, ON - July 27, 2013 - Dominic Oduro’s team-leading ninth MLS goal of 2013 was not enough to prevent a late Toronto FC comeback, as the Columbus Crew (6-10-5, 23 points) fell to the Reds (3-10-8, 17 points) on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field. Oduro’s goal came in 17th minute, with Matias Sanchez providing the assist. The Ghanaian forward beat TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik at his near post, giving the Black & Gold a 1-0 lead heading into halftime.

Unfortunately that score would not last, as the home side came storming back with two late goals. Jonathan Osorio made it 1-1 in the 87th minute, before Andrew Wiedeman netted the go-ahead goal in stoppage time. The loss is the Crew’s first at BMO Field since the club’s inaugural visit in 2007, moving Columbus’ overall record in Toronto to 3-1-5 all-time.

Robert Warzycha’s side looks to get back on track against Eastern Conference foe Houston Dynamo on Saturday, August 3 (9:00 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio) at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Crew Lose 3 Points, Schoenfeld To New England

COLUMBUS, OH - July 20, 2013 - When fourth official Daniel Fitzgerald lifted the board to 19,323 fans at Crew Stadium to show four minutes of stoppage time, the Columbus Crew figured they had at least a point in the bag.

Then disaster struck.

In the four minutes of stoppage time, New England won 2-0 on goals from a header from defender Jose Goncalves for his first MLS goal and the clincher came from second half sub Diego Fagundez.

It’s the first time the Revs won in Crew Stadium since October of 2009.

“It’s a rough sport sometimes,” Crew defender Josh Williams said of the loss. “Tonight we were just so unlucky, it definitely didn’t bounce our way. That’s happened a lot. I think we just need to work harder.”

With the loss, the Crew drop to 6-9-5, 23 points and sink six points behind the last Eastern Conference playoff spot, where as New England goes to 7-7-6, 27 points and sit just two points behind the Houston Dynamo. Despite the tough luck, Crew welcomed back goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum to the starting lineup after missing the last two matches with a shoulder ‘tweak.’

“We have to keep fighting,” Crew head coach Robert Warzycha said after the loss Saturday night. “We played well for 90 minutes and lost in the last four minutes of the game. We created a lot of chances, but could not find a goal.”

The 19,323 was the 2nd highest attendance of the year at Crew Stadium.

More bad news came for the Crew in the 36th minute when forward Aaron Schoenfeld fell awkwardly clearing a ball in his own end. His challenge with defender Jose Goncalves ended with him falling on his shoulder and quickly heading to the Crew locker room.

Schoenfeld was later diagnosed with a separated shoulder, but would be reevaluated on Monday.

The first half finished scoreless with no team with the apparent upper hand, as the Revs held the only shot on goal.

Columbus and New England went back and forth, as Columbus nearly hit the game’s opener late, when in the 89th the ball bounced around and Ben Speas, who came on for Schoenfeld, took a right footed shot from outside of the corner of the 18 yard box, Columbus’ closest chance on the night.

“I thought it was going in,” Speas said of the shot. “It bent at the last second. I hit it with my laces, so it bent out.”

On a corner just about a minute into stoppage time, Goncalves headed the ball with a bounce right in front of Gruenebaum, which went through his legs for the goal. A.J. Soares looked to screen the ball since Gruenebaum did not swipe to push the ball away.

“The ball came over, I had my man, it went over my head and he (Goncalves) put a good header on it. At the end of the day, that’s my man, I can’t let him do that,” Williams humbly admitted after the match.

As Columbus set up their attack in the middle of the park, Crew defender Chad Marshall played an errant pass to Federico Higuain, who could not get to the ball. Revs sub Lee Nguyen played a nifty one-touch pass to a streaking Fagundez, whose right-footed shot beat a charging Gruenebaum for the 2-0 New England win.

Crew now face lowly Toronto FC on Saturday (July 27) in Canada with a matinee kickoff.

Strong Second Half Sees FA Cup Winner Wigan Beat Crew In Friendly

Photos by Kevin Cross/ISNSoccer.com

Photo Credit: Kevin Cross/ISNSoccer.comCOLUMBUS, OH - July 13, 2013 - In their first match after being relegated from the English Premier League, Wigan Athletic defeated the Columbus Crew with a riveting second half, 2-1. Goal scorers included James McCarthy (on an assist from Ohio State product Roger Espinoza) and Marc-Antoine Fortune for the Latics and Ryan Finley with the lone Crew goal.

“We knew it was always going to be a tough game,” Wigan manager Owen Coyle said after his first match as Latics’ boss. “The Columbus Crew are a very powerful side with a physical presence. We’re here for fitness, so come August 3rd we peak.”

Crew head coach Robert Warzycha also used the match as a training ground for the second half of the MLS season, “I’d rather give up a goal today rather than Saturday against New England. We wanted to play possession in the back because it does not hurt us today.”

Coyle brought on Espinoza at the half and the Honduran international made the difference right away. With the ball on the left flank, Espinoza played a nearly perfect cross to McCarthy that put Wigan on the board after a forgetful first half. After a minute of second half play, Wigan led 1-0.

“Every time I get to come here, it’s exciting,” Espinosa declared. “It’s inspiring to come back to Columbus.” Espinosa played collegiately at Ohio State before playing for Kansas City and moving on to Wigan. The Honduran play all 45 minutes of the second half.

“I thought the two goals we scored were tremendous quality,” Coyle added. “The cross was exquisite and James McCarthy showed his quality.”

Scottish midfielder Frasier Fyvie played the perfect through ball behind the Crew defense and Fortune made quick work of the Crew keeper in 63rd minute to give the Championship side the 2-0 advantage.

“Two good teams entered the game and we were disappointed not to get a clean sheet,” said Coyle.

The Crew goal from Finley came after the MLS side pressed for a goal for some time. Eric Gehrig had played a low cross into the middle and Ryan Finley chipped in the ball from inside the penalty area through traffic.

Columbus hosts New England on Saturday, July 20 as the Latics continue their summer tour with a match against the Dayton Dutch Lions (July 16) and then the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on July 19. Wigan begin their Championship marathon on August 3 at Barnsley.

“We have been very humbled by the hospitality we have been shown here in Columbus and the Crew have been fantastic. We’d love, in time, to come back,” Coyle added.

Match Photos

Huge Win for Crew

Photos by Pam Moody/ISNSoccer.com

COLUMBUS, OH - July 7, 2013 - The Columbus Crew got back to their winning ways with a 1-0 defeat of the Portland Timbers on Sunday.

Ohio soccer was on display as Portland Timbers Head Coach Caleb Porter made his return to the Buckeye State.  He wasn’t the only one with local connections thanks to 9 Ohio players seeing time in the match.  Matt Lampson, Danny O’Rourke, Josh Williams, Chad Barson, Wil Trapp, and Konrad Warzycha all saw time for the Black & Gold; while Ben Zemanski, Darlington Nagbe, and Michael Nanchoff all starred for the Timbers.

Photo Credit: Pam Moody/ISNSoccer.com“This says a lot about the quality of college soccer programs in Ohio,” Barson stated.

The Crew (6-8-5) got the game’s only goal in the 5th minute as Federico Higuain set up Bernardo Anor for the score.

The Crew had a chance to make it 2-0 in the 12th after Pa-Modou Kah took down Aaron Schoenfeld with a high boot in the box.  Higuain stepped up to take the penalty kick moments later, but his shot slipped wide left of the goal.  The Timbers escaped a 2-goal deficit, but went a man down due to the red card.

Zemanski had a great opportunity to even things up before halftime, but his shot sailed high.  It was Portland’s best chance of the first 45 minutes.

The Timbers (7-2-9) were a constant threat despite being a man down for most of the game. Portland didn’t give up on their game plan, sticking to possession-style tactics.  This paid off in the first half with the Timbers holding an advantage in possession (57.8%) and passing accuracy (83.1%).

The Crew had the majority of opportunities in the second half.  It started in the 66thminute with Trapp, Higuain, and Dominic Oduro combining in a solid sequence that couldn’t be finished with a goal.

Higuain then set up speedster Ethan Finlay 9 minutes later, but Portland keeper Donovan Ricketts reached to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Timbers star Diego Valeri got an opportunity of his own in the 78th minute, but his shot sailed high.  Anor gave Finlay another shot at goal in the 89th, but his shot went up and over.

“We scored a goal, got a penalty kick, and obviously the red card,” Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha stated. “The rest of the way, I don’t think it was pretty, but it was effective.”

The win gave Columbus a much needed 3 points, keeping them in the playoff hunt.  The Crew have two more home games in the near future as they face English side Wigan Athletic (July 13) and the New England Revolution (July 20).

Subside Sports Man of the Match: M Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew

Trapp showed why he is the Crew’s most prized prospect with his MLS debut against Portland.  He helped manage the Crew midfield and looked to be the best player wearing the Black & Gold for much of the match.  It’s likely Trapp will see much more playing time thanks to such a brilliant start.

166 Match Photos (Photo Credit: Pam Moody/ISNSoccer.com)

Timbers Fall Short in Ohio Reunion

Photos by Kevin Cross/ISNSoccer.com

COLUMBUS, OH - July 7, 2013 - On a hot and muggy mid-Ohio day, the Portland Timbers' hot streak of 15 unbeaten was finally snapped by the Columbus Crew Sunday in front of 15,051 fans. Portland played down a man for nearly 80 minutes after an early Pa-Modou Kah red card and already 1-0 down dropped the Timbers in their only match against the Crew this season.

Photo Credit: Kevin Cross/ISNSoccer.comTimbers (7-3-9) stay on 30 points after 19 matches and the Crew jump to 26 points with a 7-8-5 record.

It was an Ohio showcase as nine Ohioans were featured in the match, including Portland Timbers manager Caleb Porter, who was the coach of the University of Akron soccer program during their successful run in the NCAA (183-17-18 in seven seasons under Porter).

"It was a rocky start for us, but it was admirable the effort we put into the match," Porter said after the loss. "I don't think I have ever seen a team go that long without giving up a goal."

Portland would quickly see keeper Donovan Ricketts' 401 minute shutout streak snapped just five minutes into the match as the Crew jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on a Bernardo Anor header of the corner. Portland then went down to 10 men in the 12th minute after Kah made a challenge with a high boot in the penalty area and collected the straight red card.

Despite the man advantage for the Crew, the Timbers survived the Higuain penalty from the red card and controlled the possession throughout the first 45 minutes. No shots on goal, but the Timbers did hold nearly 60 percent of the ball and at times looked to have the advantage.

"Maybe it was a wakeup call," Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury said. "We were disappointed in our star (Kah). I think we are a team that likes to posses the ball, whether we have 10 or 11, it's not going to change much for us."

In the second, Andrew Jean-Baptiste nearly hit the equalizer in the 55th minute as he headed a corner just off the post and had the Timbers closer to the goal they needed.

"It's not a bad thing to taste defeat," Porter said. "We haven't for 15 games."

Akron product Darlington Nagbe, playing in front of friends and family, nearly had the equalizer in the 87th minute and forced Crew keeper Matt Lampson to make the diving save and keep the clean sheet.

"It was fun to play against guys that I played with growing up," Nagbe said of the event of Ohioans dominating both rosters. "It's always fun coming to play in front of family and friends, you don't get to play in front of family when playing across the country."

Although Porter didn't see the result he was looking for, he did have the accomplishment of having many of his players from Akron playing in the match, including the Timbers' Ben Zemanski, Michael Nanchoff, and Nagbe as the Crew featured Wil Trapp, fresh from his time with the USA U-20 World Cup squad, in his first start in the Black and Gold.

When asked if there was joy in his return to Ohio the Timbers' manager replied, "I enjoy every road trip. I love my job. This is a great group of guys and they are disappointed we lost. It was great to see the guys that I worked with (at Akron), and I'm happy for any of the guys that I coached, obviously I want to be on the winning side of things."

The Timbers host the Los Angeles Galaxy next Saturday night (July 13, 8 pm PT) for their next MLS matchup.

50 Match Photos (Photo Credit: Kevin Cross/ISNSoccer.com)

Crew Falls 2-1 to LA Galaxy

CARSON, CA - July 4, 2013 - The Columbus Crew (5-8-5, 20 points) got a 78th-minute goal from Bernardo Anor, but a pair of Robbie Keane penalty kick goals in the 85th minute and the 92nd minute gave the LA Galaxy (8-7-3, 27 points) the win at the StubHub Center on Thursday night.

Anor gave the Crew the lead on a header from inside the box on a free kick from Federico Higuain, who recorded his team-leading fifth assist of the season. The Galaxy tied the match in the 85th minute on Robbie Keane’s penalty kick goal and ultimately won the match after a second Keane penalty kick was converted in the second minute of stoppage time.

The Crew travels back to Columbus to complete a stretch of three matches in nine days when the Black & Gold host the Portland Timbers at Crew Stadium on Sunday, July 7 (5:00 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio).

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