We got to spend some e-time with Pat Murphy of Massive Report to discuss the upcoming series of matches between the Columbus Crew and the Philadelphia Union that will likely send one into the playoffs and the other whimpering into the off season.
tBG: Let's talk rebrand - What's the general feeling amongst the fanbase on the rebrand?
MR: I think people were cautiously optimistic heading into Wednesday night, but the event and the unveil were a big success in Columbus. There has been overwhelming support for the new badge from the fans, who I think were very ready for something new. With a new owner and a new staff that changed the style of play, the team has talked all year of the "new era" in Crew soccer and I think this was the next step in that process. There is a lot of excitement around this team locally with the way they've been playing lately and I think that translated into the rebrand.
tBG: You guys got a huge boost this week, Kamara coming in Jan, a whole new look and sitting just inside the playoff picture. Is there a feeling that the Crew are back on the upswing after more than a few pretty disappointing seasons in recent memory?
MR: Very much so. I think the team, over the last couple of months, has finally started to click. The coaching staff for the most part has found a lineup that works and the players are beginning to really show the style of play Gregg Berhalter wants. On top of that, the team has been winning so that doesn't hurt. The fans have certainly been on board. This year set a record for number of sellouts at Crew Stadium and the atmosphere at the stadium as been revived.
In terms of the Kamara signing, I think people are excited to see him back in Black and Gold. When he left prior to 2008, many were sad to see him go. He was a young, raw player, but there was potential there which was realized elsewhere. I think fans were always disappointed he didn't blossom in Columbus and now he will get a chance to finish the job in Columbus.
tBG: The series against the Union are absolutely make or break for both teams if they want to make the post season. How do you see the series shaking out and what do you see making the difference between the two teams?
If you would have asked me a week ago, I would have said I think the Crew's form would be the main difference. The team's confidence was riding high, they were playing well, and they had a consistent lineup. Now, they are coming in off a loss against the New England Revolution and will be without maestro Federico Higuain and left back Waylon Francis.
I think it is more important for the Union to get wins in both games, while I think the Black and Gold would be alright with four points, which is how I see it playing out.
I'm going to predict 1-1 game in this one.
My guess on the lineup is going out on a limb a little bit:"
Eric Gehrig-Michael Parkhurst-Emanuel Pogatetz-Tyson Wahl
Ethan Finlay-Tony Tchani-Wil Trapp-Justin Meram
There's a good chance the back line could be very different. Berhalter could go with Wahl in the middle, where he has played lately, and play Chad Barson or Bernardo Anor on the left. It also wouldn't surprise me if Hector Jimenez starts at right back, as he has come on at halftime there in two of the last three games.