News analysis

Thoughts on the happy end to Saving the Crew, Sigi, and more

2018 is ended with stories that make us reflect about what is good and what is bad with American soccer. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
December 28, 2018
1:00 PM
WHILE news has generally been slower this past week, but the weekend ended with some important stories that should give pause including the passing of a legend and the end to a remarkable story in MLS.

Save the Crew

It was formally announced that MLS had come to an agreement in principle with the new ownership group for the Columbus Crew.

“After several months of discussions, we are extremely pleased to have reached an agreement in principle with the Haslam and Edwards families for them to assume an ownership position in Major League Soccer and operate Columbus Crew SC starting in January, 2019,” Don Garber said.

The news formally ended a story that showed both the best and worst of MLS. Obviously the way this was handled with Crew owner Anthony Precourt and the league was ugly and never seemed honest from day one. The lasting impression was that the whole sale of the team to Precourt in 2013 was designed to move the team to Austin from the onset. Crew supporters were kept in the dark and it never seemed like they had chance.

But the effort to save the team from such a move represented the best and most genuine, heartfelt efforts. Coming from the state of Ohio which was unable to save the first edition of the Cleveland Browns from moving to Baltimore, Columbus saved the Crew.

Supporters of the original MLS teams often don’t get enough credit. These fans had to endure and persevere through the growing pains of the league. The successful expansion teams largely built off the hard struggles from original teams like Columbus. Losing the Crew would have been a real slap in the face to the history of the league.

It will be interesting to see how Austin fits into the league. Precourt will get to have an expansion team for free, which is a huge boon to him. But it is easy to see Austin being unpopular with fans across the league. How will that play out?

MLS dodged a bullet here because the Save the Crew movement was powerful and ripping the Crew away in the face of that would have left a black mark for decades. It is easy to see a lot of fans seeing the Columbus Crew as a symbol of what is positive in the league, and seeing Austin as what is bad.

Thoughts on Sigi

The passing of Sigi Schmid was a huge story for not just MLS, but all of American soccer. Few have made as much of an impact as he did. His life’s work was to carry the game of soccer forward in this country at a time when it wasn’t easy to do so.

It is hard to top some of the things that have been said about him from people who knew him well. Matt Pentz at The Athletic and Mike Woitalla at Soccer America knew him well and wrote some incredible stories that are must reads.

My fondest memory came when Sigi was the coach of the United States U-20 team at the 2005 U-20 World Cup. He had his team very well prepared to the point where it punched well above its weight.

He took a team with a starting lineup that included Greg Dalby, Patrick Ianni, and Nate Stugis, and beat an Argentine team that included Lionel Messi, Pablo Zabaletta, Fernando Gago, and Lucas Biglia. Sigi was a good coach who could really connect with players. When they bought into his plan, he could achieve great results.

Lewis added to USMNT roster

Greg Berhalter added New York City FC winger Jonathan Lewis, 21, to the U.S. national team roster for January camp.

Lewis, a native of Florida, played in 23 games for NYCFC in 2018. In 2017 he was a member of the U.S. U-20 World Cup qualifying team but was not selected for the World Cup team. This is his first call-up to the senior level.

With Lewis added, there are now seven players on the current U.S. roster who are eligible for the upcoming U.S. U-23 team which will attempt to qualify for the 2020 Olympics later this year.

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