Matt Ralph / Brotherly Game: How has the #SaveTheCrew movement been going and what impact, if any, has the still lingering possibility of a move to Austin had on the organization, the players and its fans? From my perspective a turnpike away, beating treble winners Toronto FC out of the gate suggests the players are dealing with it pretty well so far.
Patrick Murphy / Massive Report: The movement is going about as good as it can. It’s certainly created awareness to what’s going on and raised a lot of questions about this potential move that wouldn’t have been addressed otherwise.
It’s impact on the potential move though is another question. If Anthony Precourt is dead set on moving the team, and it seems he is based on his actions since the announcement, then he’s going to move the team. The movement and the city can do whatever they want to attempt to prevent him from doing so, but it doesn’t appear he wants to sell local and the statements Precourt Sports Ventures and MLS continue to put out make it sound like there’s little to no support here. While there may not be the support they want, it’s hard to gain that when the ownership doesn’t spend much time in town and has been discussing a move out of town since at least 2014.
As for the on-the-field product, it has not impacted the team much at all. The run last year to the Eastern Conference Final (coming within inches of hosting MLS Cup for the second time in three years) and the start to this year are proof of that and much of that credit should go to Gregg Berhalter. While I’ve talked to guys privately that have indicated it’s on their minds, you wouldn’t know it by what they say publicly or how they’ve performed on the pitch.
It will be interesting to see if this continues. The longer there’s no resolution one way or the other, the more these players are going to get asked about it. Even after something is announced, there will still be conversation about it (road game media is only going to want to talk them about that, as was the case when we were in Toronto). Patience may wear thin. We shall see.
MR: The Montreal Impact game ended in three points but that was after the team blew a two-goal lead. Which Crew side should we expect in Philadelphia this weekend, the one that blew out Toronto or the one that took its foot off the gas too early and got the benefit of a late penalty?
PM: That’s a good question and one those in Columbus are interested to see. While the TFC game was a very good result, it wasn’t the perfect performance either. Toronto hit the crossbar/post twice and had a few other chances. That game could have ended 3-3 if things went differently. The Montreal game started off very brightly and then the team lost control. I’m not sure if that was due to being up 2-0 and taking the foot off the gas or indicative of bigger issues.
I expect this game to be somewhere in the middle. Road games in MLS are never easy and the Union usually does things to frustrate Crew SC, especially at Talen Energy Stadium.
MR: Head coach Jim Curtin referred to Wil Trapp today as the quarterback of the Crew. How would you describe Trapp’s role and significance to the team and what other players would you say will be the difference between dropping points on the road and keeping the perfect record to start the season intact?
Wil is certainly a big part of how Berhalter and Crew SC want to play. He plays an important No. 6 role and when the team attacks, he drops in between the two center backs, allowing the full backs to push up the field. He’s also key, along with midfield partner Artur, in stopping attacks out of the back through the middle. His importance comes more when the Black & Gold don’t have the ball, but is also good in possession.
Outside of Trapp, Federico Higuain is key. He makes the offense happen. Every year, national media talks about how this is the season his age will catch up with him. Every year they are wrong. The guy is both talented and does a great job of taking care of himself. He’s certainly a thorn in MLS opponent’s side.
Gyasi Zardes is a name Union fans will likely know, but it appears (although it’s early) that he’s ready for a renaissance year in Columbus. He looks like the player that scored 16 goals in 2014 with the LA Galaxy as he is the focal point of an attack that creates a lot of chances. So far, he’s finishing them with three goals already.
I could go on, but your readers don’t need me to list most of the starting lineup. Those are the guys that stand out though so far this year.