Crognale vs Toronto Jozy
Daniel Herlensky / Columbus Crew SC Communications

SIRK’S NOTEBOOK: Random Throw-Ins

A few fun bits of randomness from Saturday’s 2-1 win over Toronto FC. Some of it is quite silly.


When the guys talked about digging deep to preserve their lead, the play that came to my mind took place in the 76th minute. Alex Crognale just missed on a corner kick header in the Toronto box. The Hosers then broke the other way. In the blink of an eye, Steven Beitashour was leading a 2-on-1 break with Sebastain Giovinco running up the middle, waiting to receive the pass. Only Wil Trapp was back to defend. Beitashour made his pass to the waiting Giovinco, but the ball got knocked away by a recovering Crognale. Instead of putting his hands on his head and bemoaning the missed opportunity at one end of the field, he galloped 100 yards and saved the day at the other end of the field. Granted, it helps that the 6-foot-5 Crognale covers, like, 10 feet with each stride. But still, it was an impressive display of awareness, hustle, and determination.

“That was a play I thought I should have done better on the header,” Crognale said. “I got inside my man at the near post, but just didn’t get enough on the header. I saw they were going the other way, and as a defender, you kind of take that upon yourself to make something happen, so I got back as quickly as I can and was able to cut out the pass before they could make a play.”

I suggested that a recovery run that long must be fueled by some kind of “oh (crap)” panic when you see the other team has a 2-on-1 with Giovinco involved, but Crognale said that wasn’t the case in this instance.

“Honestly, I wasn’t looking at the ball,” he said. “I was just looking straight down and sprinting. I don’t know that I’ve done that many times in my life, but I wasn’t thinking about anything other than sprinting back to my spot. It worked out in the end. The other stuff didn’t matter. I was just running.”

Trapp certainly appreciated the effort.

“We win games based on every guy contributing and going above and beyond, and that is how we will continue to win games,” Trapp said. “That was wonderful to see.”


Reporters asked Meram about his growing stature in the league. He said that doesn’t concern him one way or the other.

“You might think I’m lying, but I don’t really focus on that,” he said. “In years past, I focused so much and felt the pressure. Now the maturity level is there and I want to be successful as a group. If I score a goal, it’s a bonus. If I get an assist, that’s a bonus. But if we get a win, that’s most gratifying.”

A follow-up question sought to clarify that he would not be leading his own MVP campaign?


Then again, he doesn’t have to.

“I am,” teammate Josh Williams said. “J9 for MVP!”


Scoring or assisting in every home game so far this season: “Can we play every game at home? That’s the next question.”

The potential logjam of himself, Ethan Finlay, Niko Hansen, and the recently acquired speedster Kekuta Manneh: “Wingers on wingers on wingers. That’s what we got here. It’s what we do in Columbus.”


Josh Williams and I had a lengthy conversation about the Cavs and Blue Jackets, but then I decided I needed to officially interview him about something.

“As long as it’s not about Justin,” Williams said. “I have to see him every day.”

I jokingly assured Williams that now that Meram has abandoned his gorgeous, curling “meathook” shots in favor of being a goal-poacher, I didn’t need to interview Josh about him. This caused Williams to ask a few questions of his own.

“J, what happened to the meathook, man?” Williams asked of Meram, a few lockers over. “Are you going to score an actual goal once in a while? Or is it just tap-ins now?”

Completely unfazed, Meram calmly replied, “Did you watch me against Orlando?”

Williams knew, like Orlando, he had been defeated by Justin Meram.

“That’s true,” he conceded. “Alright, you’re good. Nevermind. You’re good. J9 for MVP.”


I actually wanted to ask Williams about Trapp. Josh’s comments can be found in the story about Trapp’s 100th appearance. After hearing Williams speak so effusively about Trapp’s leadership ability, I circled back to our Cavaliers conversation and suggested that maybe Trapp could also fulfill the captain’s duties on the strangely indifferent and disengaged defending NBA champs.

“I think LeBron’s pretty much got that role covered, but maybe LeBron could learn something from Wil,” Williams said. “Let’s stick Wil in the Cavs locker room and see how they do. Maybe he’d be good luck.”


Here was a fun moment from Saturday. Broadcaster Neil Sika has these sturdy yellow cards that contain the various promos he has to read on air during the game. It’s the standard TV/radio system for any in-broadcast sponsor promos.

After reading one of the promos, Sika turned to me and jokingly chucked the card up in the air like David Letterman tossing away the card with his famous Top Ten list. Unfortunately, the breeze from the large fan running in the broadcast booth launched his promo card right out of the window. We watched helplessly as it zoomed out the booth.

I ran outside to retrieve the card from the family that had it fall out of the sky onto them. When I got back into the booth, Sika took the official lineup sheet and wrote a note to the family. He then had me run it out to them as a strangely unique souvenir from an absolutely absurd moment.

I snapped a photo before I delivered the note, which was received in good humor by the family. I love that I never know what’s going to happen on any given night at MAPFRE Stadium.


Here are two more photos I snapped on Saturday. This first one was neat because the setting sun illuminated the year on the 2002 Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup signage, but not any of the others, which were blocked from the sun’s rays by the west stands. It caused the 2002 sign to really pop.

Also, I took a moment to once again revel in the tiny detail that MAPFRE Stadium’s four iconic light towers create a visual effect whereby the players running around on the field are in the center of a giant X, like you’re watching someone play FIFA on their Xbox or Playstation.

Columbus Crew SC next visits the New York Red Bulls on April 22 for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff. The Black & Gold return to MAPFRE Stadium on April 29 for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff against Andrea Pirlo, David Villa and New York City FC.

Questions? Comments? Want to know which SuperPACs to send your J9 For MVP donations to? Feel free to write at or via twitt

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