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“Mind Boggling”

June 14, 2010
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From John Clem’s comment below:

For what it’s worth, I’ve been informed that Claddagh did better business on Saturday than they’ve ever done for  St. Patrick’s Day.  I’d imagine it was one of the best days ever for the entire chain.  Makes the whole thing more mind boggling.

It doesn’t surprise me they did so much business. I just can’t believe management wouldn’t try to figure out how Craig and his staff did it. Truly “Mind Boggling”

Setting the Scene

June 14, 2010
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If you didn’t make it down to Claddagh on Saturday, it might be a little hard to understand just how busy it was. Sam Fahmi and Jason Mowry of MassiveReport.com have several shots of the crowd that wanted to enjoy the game in the best place to watch in Columbus.

Please check out the rest of the set over at the Crew centered MassiveReport.com. It’s quality stuff and I would say that even if I didn’t write for them.

I also want to thank you for all of the comments. I have heard back from some of the former staff and am working to get something up this afternoon.

Claddagh: Ruining a Good Thing (As We Know It)

June 13, 2010
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Claddagh is facing an uncertain future as a destination for Columbus soccer fans as much of the staff, including General Manager Craig McConville no longer works there after a falling out with corporate management. McConville was central to Claddagh’s rise as a top spot for fans to catch a match, whether it started at 7 am or 10 pm and was well liked by the customers and staff alike.

The dispute stems from the massive England v. US party that Claddagh hosted yesterday. With interest in the game high, McConville and staff came up with the ideas to accommodate as many soccer mad fans as possible. This included opening well before the 7am Greece v. South Korea game. Arranging for a portable 14 foot wide screen to show the game in an adjoining park and bringing in grills and a beer truck to serve what would be a hungry and thirsty crowd. Triple the expected 1000 people showed up for the festivities.

As I understand the situation, a member Claddagh corporate management had no problems with the party, but was angry at what was seen as the lack of adequate preparation. Some of the issues I know about were related to the lack of staff to handle the event and not having enough beer trucks outside to serve the attendees. Understandable concerns given some of the lines, but the corporate manager chose to berate him in front of the other managers. I am not sure what was said, but it was apparently very harsh as McConville chose to walk out and much of the staff followed.

McConville has been instrumental in building Claddagh into a soccer destination. It’s the Crew’s away game headquarters through his work. He built a strong relationship with the Crew Supporters Union, becoming the supporters bar for CSU. John Clem of CSU spoke highly of McConville, “We had a perfect situation with Craig and the rest of the staff so it’s caught us all off guard.” I wouldn’t be surprised if they looked for another home given Craig and the rest of the Claddagh staff’s departure.

I am certainly not a neutral party. I have talked to Craig many times. The first time I met him, he turned on a Friday afternoon Bundesliga game for me. He even offered to call me with the final score, since I had to leave early. He is a nice guy with a mind for customer service. His staff speaks well of him, that’s impressive. He also gets what being a soccer bar means. He caters to the die hard customers willing to come in at 7am. The staff he assembled were friendly and accommodating to soccer fans. Patrons understood this too, it’s evident by the dozens of donated scarfs that line the walls.

Management and staff can certainly be replaced, but it will take a long time to rebuilt what was lost this weekend. Columbus probably lost the best soccer bar in town. I know many people that won’t be heading back without the staff that was vital to the atmosphere; I am certainly going to look elsewhere. Claddagh loses out on the ties to the soccer community in this town. Last but not least, the former staff of Claddagh don’t have jobs because they chose to stick together. It seems like such a big loss on what should have been a great day for soccer.

I have yet to hear back from the former Claddagh staff, but if I do, I will add it here.

Game Day

June 12, 2010

It has been quite a while since I have posted over here. I still have big plans (or at least an idea for this site). Like most things, I lazily (read: taking my time) figuring out what’s next over here while I balance my work load over at Massive Report and my newest role, father to my infant daughter.

Today however, I get to enjoy this game as a fan. There are plenty of people writing about England v. US. Some are even pretty good. Instead I will be down at Claddagh with the Massive Report team just watching without a notebook. I am going to enjoy it. I hope you, the few remaining readers of this site, can too.

Psst…

March 4, 2010

The action is going on over at The Massive Report. I have a couple things up over there already, as do several other great writers. Check it out.

Roster Cutdown Day

February 28, 2010

Mitchell’s latest tidbits reminded me that March 1st is roster cut down day. There aren’t too many open spots on the roster. Sergio Herrera was signed to replace Ale Moreno. New draftees Dilly Duka and Bright Dike will slot into the developmental roster.

The only competition is probably in the midfield. Yevgen Breden comes from Europe and was the only trialist kept from the Florida swing of preseason. I have to think his chief competition is against long time Crew veteran Duncan Oughton. Oughton has been playing more with the first team lately, perhaps signaling that he has pulled ahead in the competition for the last senior roster slot. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the decision to go the other way.

With Dike and Duka joining the team, that forces more competition for developmental roster slots. Shaun Francis has played consistently during the Crew’s tuneup games and probably made the roster. That leaves one slot for three of last year’s players. Cory Elenio, Alex Grendi, and Kevin Burns are fighting for that last spot. Grendi has not been in any of the recent scrimmages. Elenio and Burns have been getting 2nd team minutes. I have to think the nod goes to the player who made a couple starts last year, Burns.

My Guess:

Keepers (2): William Hesmer and Andy Gruenebaum

Defenders (8): Frankie Hejduk, Chad Marshall, Gino Padula, Eric Brunner, Jed Zayner, Andy Iro, Shaun Francis, Danny O’Rourke

Midfielders (8): Robbie Rogers, Eddie Gaven, Emmanuel Ekpo, Duncan Oughton, Kevin Burns, Brian Carroll, Dilly Duka, Adam Moffat

Forward (6): Guillermo Barros-Schelotto, Steven Lenhart, Bright Dike, Jason Garey, Emilio Renteria, Sergio Herrera

U.S. Wins; Crew Players Don’t

February 25, 2010

I mentioned that yesterday’s game (which the U.S. won) might have been the last chance for Robbie Rogers, Chad Marshall, and Eddie Gaven to impress Bob Bradley. After looking at the roster for the national team’s game against the Netherlands, it appears I was right. None of the three earned a second look next week. It was a dull game that the U.S. controlled for long stretches, but they were unable to turn chances into goals.

It’s pretty clear that Clarence Goodson is ahead of Chad Marshall for the final defender spot on the roster. Marshall couldn’t get a start as Bradley opted to play Goodson and Jonathan Bornstein together in central defense. El Salvador did little to pressure the American defense and Goodson was rarely tested. The performance earned Goodson a call up for next week’s friendly while Marshall returns to Crew camp.

Rogers had his chance to impress, but wasn’t able to make much of the opportunity. He looked shaky as he took on defenders, his crosses were lacking, and his decision-making was dreadful. He had 86 minutes to impress the coaching staff, but looked like the unsure Rogers of 2009 rather than the confident player of 2008. He looked slightly better in the 2nd half when he was supported by the overlapping runs of Heath Pierce, but still it was painful to watch at times. With such a drop off from year to year, I wonder how much he misses the thoughtful coaching approach of Sigi Schmid.

As much as Rogers disappointed, Gaven was a surprising contributor. He looked at home on the right side of midfield. He played an uptempo game. He created several chances by repeatedly driving at defenders. His passes were crisp and his movement was superb. I did like how he played more centrally in midfield. He could create from a more central position, but it also allowed him space to cut outside or wait for the overlapping run.

If there is a benefit to the Crew’s trio of national team players missing out on a World Cup it’s that Columbus will keep them for six games they would have otherwise missed. The pre-Cup camp opens May 15th and the Crew play against Chivas USA, New York, Kansas City, LA Galaxy, San Jose, and Colorado between May 15th and the World Cup break. That’s not to say the Crew might not still lose Marshall and Rogers. They probably still have a slight chance to work themselves into contention again with a solid spring with the Crew, but they have done themselves no favors with the last two games against Honduras and El Salvador.