By JUSTIN FERGUSON
Although neither officials from Precourt Sports Ventures nor Hunt Sports Group would reveal the sale price for the Columbus Crew and their stadium, business magazine Forbes is reporting on its Sports Money blog that the Tuesday purchase broke a league record for an existing franchise.
Representatives from both sides have declined to comment on the reported $68 million price tag for both the franchise and Columbus Crew Stadium. Last summer, D.C. United were sold for a reported $50 million. Earlier this year, MLS announced that New York City FC’s expansion fee was $100 million, a $60 million increase from the fee paid by the Montreal Impact.
Crew head coach Robert Warzycha said Wednesday’s practice, the team’s first since the announcement of the club’s sale, felt different for him and the players.
“It’s always like this (when management changes),” Warzycha told The Columbus Dispatch. “I’m sure (Precourt) is going to ask a lot of questions and how we run things, and some things he’ll like and some things he won’t. We work hard anyway, and this is going to make us work even harder.”
Here are some more notes from around the Eastern Conference:
The Fire’s new Designated Player, Ecuadorian striker Juan Luis Anangonó, could make his MLS debut this weekend as Chicago takes on Philadelphia in an all-Eastern Conference showdown.
Fire head coach Frank Klopas said he has been more cautious with introducing Anangonó to the lineup than he was with Sherjill McDonald, who started for the team quickly after his acquisition last season.
“I think the important thing with (Anangonó) is his fitness, like I said before,” Klopas told the team website. “There’s not any one savior. It’s about the team. He gives us some depth in that spot, and he’s got to work hard to get in his fitness. But we know he’s a No. 9, he’s going to run behind defenders, he’s going to have a presence in the box.”
With his squad out of contention for a playoff spot and a crucial U.S. Open Cup semifinal match against the Chicago Fire next Wednesday, D.C. United coach Ben Olsen will have his hands full in shuffling his squad for Saturday’s league match against Montreal.
“Right now it’s about preparing for Montreal and trying to get a winning mentality that will kind of roll into that important game on Wednesday against Chicago,” Olsen told the team website. “(It’s) a little bit of a balancing act on players and how I get everybody in rhythm and physically ready to go on Wednesday with the weekend game. That’s part of what we’re figuring out now.”
In addition to new signings who were not a part of D.C.’s Open Cup quarterfinal, Olsen will have to deal with nagging injuries to Dwayne De Rosario, Chris Pontius, Carlos Ruiz and Casey Townsend. But after missing last weekend’s match with a hip injury, Perry Kitchen is back to full training and is expected to be available on Saturday.
After celebrating a Gold Cup title on Sunday with the rest of the U.S. Men’s National Team, Dynamo forward Will Bruin is back in the Lone Star State, ready to end his scoring drought.
Bruin did not see any Gold Cup action during the Americans’ run to the title, but he looks at the time spent with the national team as a good escape from a rough stretch in MLS.
“I look at this as, I mean I didn’t play, but it was more to get a change of scenery,” Bruin told reporters earlier this week. “I’ve been goalless for a month or two, so it’s a new start for me. I’m going to go out and try and bag some more.”
The 23-year-old, who last scored for the Dynamo on May 8, will look to provide a boost for the Dynamo forwards in Saturday’s match against the Columbus Crew.
On Wednesday night, for the first time in the club’s young history, the Montreal Impact had members on the MLS All-Star Team.
Marco Di Vaio, who was awarded his roster spot via FIFA 13’s “In The Game” goalscoring contest, started alongside Thierry Henry and played the entire first half for the All-Stars. He came off at halftime for defending MLS MVP Chris Wondolowski.
All-Star head coach Peter Vermes selected midfielder Patrice Bernier to join the roster, and he came on for Kyle Beckerman in the second half. His fellow midfielder, Justin Mapp, was selected to the inactive roster on Wednesday, giving Montreal a trio of first-time All-Star selections.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Striker Jerry Bengston’s future with the club has been a mystery these past several months for the Revolution, but his recent interview with a Honduran media outlet makes it sound like the 26-year-old will finish the season in New England.
Bengston told LaPrensa.hn that he wants to finish well in the final six months of his contract with the Revolution. When asked about transfer offers from clubs in Spain and Greece, the striker said he is currently committed to staying in MLS.
“Over there representatives have called me offering me things, but we have not talked much,” Bengston said. “I told them then we’ll talk about that when we finish here at the New England Revolution.”
NEW YORK RED BULLS
Thierry Henry has worn the captain’s armband of English Premier League power Arsenal and his current New York team, but Wednesday night’s MLS All-Star Game marked the first time that Henry had captained the league’s best in his Red Bulls career.
Henry led the All-Stars onto the field at Sporting Park on Wednesday night and played 57 minutes in the 3-1 loss to Roma. The veteran forward came off for young goalscorer Jack McInerney, a member of the Philadelphia Union.
In addition to having the league’s captain, New York found out it had another All-Star, Jamison Olave, on Wednesday when the inactive list came out. Key defender Olave, who joined the Red Bulls this past offseason, has recorded 18 starts and four goals so far for his new club.
The Union have a chance to complete the season sweep on Eastern Conference rival Chicago this Saturday, and the squad seems focused on taking care of business in a match that kicks off an important month of August in terms of the playoff picture.
“Biggest month of the season coming up. Eastern Conference teams, all fighting for playoff spots,” Sheanon Williams told The Philly Soccer Page after Tuesday night’s friendly loss to Stoke City. “We need them all. It’s definitely been brought up in this locker room that this is going to be a huge month, and we that need to be prepared.”
Philadelphia will play a full slate of Eastern Conference teams in the month of August. After Saturday’s home match against Chicago, the Union host D.C. United before a road trip to New York and New England. The Union will close out the month with a home match against the Montreal Impact.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Although Wednesday night’s 3-1 win for AS Roma was not the result many at Sporting Park hoped, the loss did not put too much of a damper on the MLS All-Star festivities for Kansas City.
Players, coaches, fans and league officials spoke highly of Sporting Kansas City as a host for the annual All-Star Game. After the game, SKC and MLS All-Stars head coach Peter Vermes talked about how important the week was for the entire franchise.
“The result wasn’t necessarily the key focus for these last few days,” Vermes said. “It was really about a vision that now becomes reality. Our ownership group made a commitment as owners to come into this league and take a franchise that unfortunately was under-performing in so many different ways. And they have been able to follow through on every single commitment or goal they set out for this organization. When you look at the overall picture of what transpired here over the past few days, it was definitely a first-class experience and event.”
After struggling with his new club during his first few weeks, former Sporting KC winger Bobby Convey has become the “Convey of old,” according to head coach Ryan Nelsen.
“When we bring in players, there’s always going to be that transition time,” Nelsen told SportsNet. “It does take time, like any settling-in period with any job, whatever you do. Luckily now we see the Bobby Convey that we saw four of five years ago, the Bobby Convey of old.”
Convey shook off his early struggles with a solid performance in a scoreless draw against the New York Red Bulls two weeks ago. Last Saturday, he recorded both assists in Toronto’s first home win in over a year, a 2-1 comeback victory over the Columbus Crew.
What do you think of these notes? Surprised the Crew went for that high of a price? Excited to possibly see Anangonó in action on Saturday? How do you think Olsen will handle his lineup for Saturday?
Share your thoughts below.