Carolina Challenge Cup, Day 1: Columbus Crew SC 3 – Atlanta United FC 1
February 18, 20183:32PM EST
By Carlos Mojica
Crew SC opened the 2018 Carolina Challenge Cup by defeating fellow MLS side Atlanta United FC 3-1 thanks to goals by Pedro Santos and Cristian Martinez in the first half and a second half own goal by Josef Martinez.
As has been the case throughout most of preseason, Crew SC scored early in the match. In the 13th minute, Pedro Santos received a through ball from Federico Higuain on the left which he then put past Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan. The strike was Santos’ first goal with the Black & Gold, something the Designated Player was happy about.
“Every game I try to score, I try to do my best and I feel so good to [have] scored my first goal. I hope the next game I keep scoring,” said Santos. “I try to do my best and I think there’s going to be more goals from myself.”
Crew SC further extended its lead in the 33rd minute when Cristian Martinez audaciously chipped the ball over Guzan from well outside the box to make it 2-0. Martinez assisted by Artur, who had received the ball from Zack Steffen.
On his goal, Martinez spoke about the quick reaction that was required in the lead up to the goal.
“It was quick thinking. I saw that Zack gave the ball to Artur, I saw that I had space and I ran into space in the moment,” said Martinez. “I saw that the goalkeeper was a little bit out, so I attempted it.”
The second half saw Columbus continue to apply pressure despite Atlanta not backing down. Crew SC’s pressure led to a corner kick in the 71st minute, which was taken by Pedro Santos. Santos’ corner kick deflected off Josef Martinez and went into the back of Atlanta United’s net, giving Crew SC a 3-0 lead.
Josef Martinez managed to score a goal for Atlanta in the 90th minute, but it was to no avail as the defending Carolina Challenge Cup champions won by a score of 3-1.
Following the match, Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter praised his team’s mentality coming into the match.
“The important thing was the mentality,” said Berhalter. “We knew we were going to be fatigued, we knew we were coming up against a good team and it wasn’t always going to be perfect, but I think the guys did a good job of hanging in there and had the right mentality.”
Up next, Crew SC takes on the Carolina Challenge Cup hosts – the Charleston Battery – on Wednesday, February 21 at 5:00 p.m. at MUSC Health Stadium. The match is set to air on BeIN Sports and will also be streamed on ColumbusCrewSC.com.
The Major League Soccer regular season will kick off just days after the conclusion of the CCC and Crew SC’s preseason, with Crew SC opening their season on the road at Toronto FC on March 3. Following that 2017 Eastern Conference Championship rematch, Crew SC returns to MAPFRE Stadium to host the Montreal Impact on March 10, 2018.
In 2017, Crew SC returned to the postseason for the third time in four years and reached the Eastern Conference Championship for the second time in four seasons under Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter.
Columbus Crew SC: Zack Steffen; Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, Lalas Abubakar, Milton Valenzuela; Artur (Sean Zawadzki** 60’), Wil Trapp ©; Cristian Martinez, Federico Higuain, Pedro Santos; Gyasi Zardes
Subs: Logan Ketterer
**Crew SC Academy player
Atlanta United FC: Brad Guzan; Sal Zizzo (Oliver Shannon 66’), Larentowicz, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Mikey Ambrose (Kevin Kratz 66’); Darlington Nagbe (Brandon Vazquez 84’), Chris McCann; Julian Gressel, Miguel Almiron, Ezequiel Barco (Andrew Carleton 84’); Josef Martinez
CLB – Pedro Santos (Federico Higuain) 13’
CLB – Cristian Martinez (Artur) 33’
CLB – Josef Martinez (own goal) 71’
ATL – Josef Martinez (Miguel Amiron) 90’
CLB – Lalas Abubakar (caution) 31’
ATL – Leandro Gonzalez Pirez (caution) 54’
New hope for Columbus Crew supporters, team owner connected with local investors
By Ben Garbarek
Friday, January 26th 2018
There’s new hope for supporters of the Columbus Crew SC the team may not move to Austin. The Columbus Partnership said Friday it connected the Crew owner with local investors who want to keep the team in Columbus.
COLUMBUS — There’s new hope for supporters of the Columbus Crew SC the team may not move to Austin. The Columbus Partnership said Friday it connected the Crew owner with local investors who want to keep the team in Columbus.
Columbus City officials met with team owner Anthony Precourt and MLS Commissioner Don Garber in New York City last year to convince them to not move the team. That meeting ended without an agreement. Columbus Partnerships CEO Alex Fischer issued a statement Friday afternoon saying that meeting led to these new discussions.
“Post our New York meetings, we were approached by local investors and were happy to introduce them to Mr. Precourt,” Fischer said in a statement. “We are encouraged that those introductions have been made and preliminary conversations have been constructive.”
The Crew SC issued a statement of its own not committing to stay in Columbus or necessarily move to Austin.
“We do not have commentary to add to today’s reports in Columbus other than to reiterate that Precourt Sports Ventures has – since the original October 2017 announcement of exploring strategic options – remained committed to finding solutions to ensure the long-term sustainability of the club,” the team statement read.
Representatives for Precourt Sports Ventures are scheduled to be in Austin next month to present several stadium site proposals to the Austin City Council. Some of the proposals have not gone over well with the public or city leaders there.
“Austin could be very challenging finding the right place for the Crew Stadium,” said Rob Vogt, who runs the market research firm Vogt Strategic Insights in West Columbus.
Vogt has studied both the Columbus and Austin markets extensively. He said Austin wasn’t necessarily an upgrade for the Crew.
“We have a lot more attributes here in Central Ohio than they do in Austin,” he said. “I think it’s just a matter of what is the owner looking for?”
Several Austin City Council members proposed a ban on soccer stadiums on public land after Precourt Sports Ventures proposed two plans on metropolitan parks. PSV announced late Friday it was pulling on of those original proposals because of the public outcry.
“They’re going to be really challenged to find the right location in Austin,” Vogt said. “It’s going to take a lot longer than they originally anticipated.”
Supporters of the club with the “Save the Crew” movement said hearing of obstacles to moving to Austin give them hope the team may not move to Austin in the end.
“We’ve always maintained they deserve a team,” said John Zidar with Save the Crew. “We just don’t want it to be ours.”
Austin city officials said there are many people who would like to get an MLS team but there are also many people living near the proposed sites who have concerns about the team’s plans.
City officials said they expect a “robust debate” at its meeting on February 15th. That’s when PSV will be presenting some of its latest proposals.
Report: Anthony Precourt agrees to ‘preliminary conversations’ with the City of Columbus
Positive steps are being made towards keeping Crew SC in Columbus.
By Ralph Schudel and Patrick Guldan
Jan 26, 2018
The relationship between Columbus Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt and the city of Columbus went from chilly to frozen, but there has been a recent thaw according to an article in Columbus Business First on Friday afternoon.
The relationship reached its nadir after the mid-November meeting between the city, the Columbus Partnership, Don Garber, and Precourt ended with both sides pointing fingers.
The potential move to Austin, Texas has hit many bumps along the way, and it appears Mr. Precourt is evaluating his options. Fierce push back from Save The Crew and various fan bases around Major League Soccer have caused a public relations headache for commissioner Don Garber.
“Clearly things aren’t going well in Austin,” Columbus Partnership CEO Alex Fischer told Columbus Business First. “I’ve tried to keep the emotion out of it … but we care about this team. We are constantly looking for any opportunity we’ve got to try to create the best possible situation” for the team.
According to Fischer, Anthony Precourt has agreed to preliminary conversations with the city “city leaders here and with local investors interested in keeping the soccer team in town.” Fischer calls this development “encouraging,” and that the team “could benefit from local involvement.”
In Novemeber, BrewDog owner James Watt purposed an idea in which he would buy the team and sell it back to the community, similar to the ownership structure of the Green Bay Packers in the NFL. Major League Soccer reportedly didn’t let that idea get off the ground.
Despite talks between the city and Precourt Sports Ventures stalling, the Save The Crew movement pressed on.
Fischer spoke highly of the grassroots movement as he praised the fans and the 250 businesses that support the cause. “The whole country is impressed with #SaveTheCrew,” Fischer said in the article. “It shows the passion of the fan base… the enthusiasm is infectious.”
Given the lack of engagement between Precourt and the City of Columbus, the fact that both parties are willing to talk is an encouraging next step.