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Know Thy Enemy: Revolution vs We’ll Always Call Them The Columbus Crew Edition

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You can retire the Hard Hat Guys, but you’ll never stop us from calling Columbus the Crew.

SOCCER: MAY 30 MLS - Atlanta United FC at New England Revolution Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I don’t know how the Haslem family could screw up this badly. With the Columbus Crew coming off an MLS Championship and into a second SSS for the storied Crew franchise, they decide after a gigantic fan movement that granted them the opportunity to buy the team to do something this stupid.

A full rebrand complete with an absolute meh logo, a huge departure from one of the few decent circle badges in the league, and name that sounds like the capital of South Carolina. Just based on possible search engine numbers I’d have stayed away from that, but you’re THE CREW. The team of the #SaveTheCrew movement from just a few years ago! In what world are some of these sports executives living in.

No, this isn’t as bad as the breakaway European Super League, but it’s the same concept. North American sports is about money, and how much the owners can make. MLS has very, very, slowly been joining this trend but have largely remained more lowkey than the other four major sports leagues that make billions without trying.

The Haslems or someone thought this idea would make them money. This was so tonedeaf that their own supporters wrote a full report telling the team this was the dumbest idea since attempting to move to Austin and they did it anyway.

I am dumbfounded as to how this has occurred AGAIN, and in the middle of the season. This was a bad idea, executed poorly, and timed horribly from start to finish.

My opinions on MLS team names and badges are well know, the Crayon Flag of the New England Revolution is the best and every FC/SC/City/United/etc. (except DC) is lazy and unimaginative from a branding standpoint. This is not Europe, MLS should not try to be UEFA in anyway, and yet there is a continued branding trend into boring names with mediocre to bad badges.

I refuse to refer to this team as Columbus SC. They will always be the Crew and occasionally with lots of irony a few references to the capital of South Carolina. Don Garber should have put a stop to this again too if we haven’t been mentioning that enough. Unbelieveable...

Anyway, let’s chat with someone who desperately needs a hug, Pat Murphy of Massive Report. Be sure to check out my answers to Pat’s questions over on their site.

TBM: So the Crew had a long week...first with the beginning of *gestures at everything* with the name and an 0-2 loss against Toronto. First, you guys need a hug? Second, what went wrong in that TFC match?

PM: Haha. I’m sure your hugs would be accepted around Columbus right now. But this group is a resilient bunch. As for Wednesday against TFC, this was a culmination of things. The Crew is dealing with injuries, match congestion due to Champions League, etc. It was bound to catch up with the team at some point. That game, between two teams that had played a number of matches in short succession, was one of the more boring MLS games I’d seen in a while. The breaks fell Toronto’s way as the Crew didn’t play well. I’m not taking a ton from it.

TBM: CCL campaigns are always tough for MLS sides in the early part of the year, are the Crew satisfied with their performance in the CCL this year and should you be back next year?

PM: No. This club wanted to win Champions League. It was a stated goal by the team and the front office went out to build depth this offseason to be ready to make a run at that (as well as the U.S. Open Cup that may or may not happen). Making it to the quarterfinals was great and competing with a team like Monterrey was a learning experience, but no one on the Crew roster was content with bowing out at that point, especially losing 3-0 down in Mexico. The group expected a better fight but frankly got punched in the mouth by a better team.

Whether or not they will be back next year is up to this current Black & Gold team. This is one of the better-constructed rosters in the league, so you would think Columbus has a good shot at getting back into Champions League but obviously it’s not easy to do so. What the Crew needs to do is get healthy and get out of this stretch of playing a game every few days before we can really judge how good this team is.

TBM: We know about Lucas Zelarayan, Zardes, and even BWP, give us a less heralded Crew player who needs more attention and/or has started 2021 well.

PM: I’ll do you one better and give you two. The first is center back Jonathan Mensah. While he was a finalist for MLS Defender of the Year last season, I don’t think he gets talked about enough. He played every minute of last year on the second-best defense in the league. For a player who came to MLS and struggled initially in 2017, Mensah has rounded into some very good form and is not only the leader of the backline but the captain of the Black & Gold. And while this season has been a little inconsistent to start due to injuries, he’s vital to the team’s success.

The other is Artur. Darlington Nagbe gets a lot of the acclaim in central midfield, and rightfully so, but even he recently said that Artur is vastly underrated in this league, The Brazilian does the grunt work in the center of the park and still manages to get involved in build-up play and occasionally chips in with a goal or an assist. Like most of the players on this team right now, he is battling an injury that has slowed his start to the season, but Columbus isn’t going very far (and certainly doesn’t win MLS Cup last year) without him.

Lineup/Injuries/Predictions/Etc.

Room

Afful-Mensah-Williams-Francis

Artur-Nagbe

Diaz-Zelarayan-Santos

Zardes

I’ll say a 1-1 draw for my prediction.