Photo: Tom Bogert

MLS Writer Tom Bogert is impressed with Columbus Crew

With American Soccer back on our screens gracing us with the #MLSisBack tournament as well as some USL games, one man who is staying busy is writer Tom Bogert. Tom has seen his work feature in The Guardian, FourFourTwo and ProSoccerUSA.com among others and is currently writing for mlssoccer.com on the tournament to crown a champion. While Tom believes it is still “way too early” to predict any sort of outcome, he has been impressed with a number of teams, including Columbus Crew who saw off the challenge of the New York Red Bull’s on Thursday night.

“Columbus have been pretty close to what I expected” Bogert told us at Vendetta Sports Media. “It’s weird to me how many commentators and journalists are calling this team a ‘surprise’ when all winter we loved the moves they made, like adding (midfielder, Darlington) Nagbe and (creative force, Lucas) Zelarayan to an already solid team. The pieces have fit in as well as they appeared to on paper.”

Midfielder Darlington Nagbe in particular has impressed Bogert with the writer calling the USA international “an incredible asset”. Nagbe is ultimately “the lynchpin for a team that wants to control the ball” according to Bogert, while his teammate Zelarayan “has been the guy who can win games on his own and lift the quality of those around him”. This all works well with Californian native Gyasi Zardes up front who Bogert calls “a good, reliable goal scoring center forward”. Manager Caleb Porter also came in for some praise after taking time off when he left Portland Timbers in 2017. “I’m sure teams were interested” Bogart told us, “but he wanted to take the right role. He was linked with the LA Galaxy and other teams, but ultimately he and Columbus were the right fit together.”

While Tom has been most impressed with Columbus during this restart we also spoke about another team who had caught his eye in Orlando City. “I’ve been most impressed with the Crew,” said Bogert, “but since we already talked about them, I’ll shine the obvious light on Orlando. I loved the appointment of Oscar Pareja as head coach and like some pieces on their roster, but I didn’t think Pareja would be getting them to play like this so quick. It’s a small sample size and unique circumstances of course, so don’t take anything from this tournament as fact, but they have played some really nice soccer at times, while having defensive structure (something much needed in Orlando). Chris Mueller isn’t going to keep scoring at a rate of 3 goals every 2 games and who knows if Nani keeps looking like this, but there are sustainable data points to take away from this team, and honestly, good for them.”

Unfortunately the assessment on New York City FC and Seattle Sounders isn’t as positive. Both were “among the favorites” coming into the tournament but in Tom’s eyes have been “super disappointing”. Bogert told us that “both teams have the obvious talent that it should just be a blip, but it’s definitely not the way you want to restart the season. Particularly so for NYCFC, given they have a new coach and all. I think they’ll come good, but it can’t feel great right now.”

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As for a winner Tom would not be drawn on it. “It’s way too early. MLS is much too chaotic under normal circumstances to make predictions, let alone this tournament, so it’d be an exercise in time-wasting to pick one single favorite!”

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