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Hansen pounces, Columbus snatches late draw with Chicago

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MLS Rivalry Week continued with yet another 1-1 draw as Columbus picked up a point on the road in Chicago thanks to Niko Hansen’s 87th minute equalizer.

Last season’s Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic struck in the 67th minute to put Chicago in front, but Hansen was there to pounce on a loose ball in the box with just three minutes remaining to even the score.

Both teams had similar amounts of shots, but Columbus put twice as many on net and held a slight possessional advantage throughout the match. Still, Chicago went in front as Nikolic latched onto a horrible mistake at the back by Columbus defender Milton Valenzuela who played Nikolic in on goal.

Columbus fought to bring it back level, forcing five saves out of Chicago goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland. Eventually, they earned the draw as Hansen pounced on a loose ball in the box.

The shared spoils pushes Columbus seven points above Philadelphia in fourth place in the East, while Chicago is unable to leap Toronto, remaining in 10th on goal differential.

MLS, Precourt unveil Austin FC name, crest

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Major League Soccer is likely coming to Austin, and the Columbus Crew’s owners have released a name and logo for the team.

It’s not an awful logo by any means, with a decent color selection and the use of the”Texas Live Oak” tree, but it sure is hard to look past the tomfoolery used to (probably) tear a team from its fan base. It’s difficult to imagine a relocation being handled any worse.

[ RECAP: NYCFC 1-1 RBNY ]

Anyway, last week the Austin City Council approved Crew owner Anthony Precourt’s plans to build a stadium in Texas, and now Precourt Sports Ventures is bringing the goods on what goods it’ll be bringing south.

@MLS2ATX also released an explainer for the badge, including that the color is “Bright Verde,” which is English and Spanish for bright green. It’s a little like Seattle’s “Rave Green” except rave is English for rave.

Here’s how the Major League Soccer web site phrased the current situation between the Crew, Precourt, and Austin. It’s… awkward (and how could it not be. There’s reason to feel empathy for the writer).

PSV, which currently operates Columbus Crew SC, is exploring options to bring an MLS club to Austin.

“Given the historical and ongoing market challenges, Precourt Sports Ventures must prepare for every potential scenario for the Club in 2019 and beyond,” PSV said in a statement. “Should Austin be granted the requisite approvals ahead of the 2019 season, it will be imperative to launch with momentum and a presence to ensure the long-term sustainability and viability of the Club. Normal business operations shall continue in Columbus for the balance of the 2018 season where winning an MLS Cup remains the objective.”

The Austin Statesman also pointed out that the names Austin FC and Austin Athletic are owned by Major League Soccer, and that it was registered in August 2017.

Another group of people to feel empathy for might be Austin soccer fans, who are probably really excited about their new team and fancy new digs, but not at the expense of another club.

Precourt claims victory as Austin City Council approves stadium

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The Austin City Council voted 7-4 to approve a stadium planned by Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt, the latest step in Precourt’s bid to move the MLS franchise to Texas.

The stadium will be scheduled for a 2021 completion. USL side Austin Bold will begin play next season.

Precourt spoke briefly following the announcement, saying, “We’re bringing Major League Soccer to Austin, Texas” and clapping his hands.

[ MORE: All #SaveTheCrew news ]

The Ohio Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against MLS and Precourt Sports Ventures, claiming that moving the Crew to Austin would be illegal. That lawsuit’s day in court is still a few weeks away.

Columbus Partnership CEO Alex Fischer says the city will continue its fight to “Save the Crew.”

Austin MLS stadium vote delayed until next Wednesday

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Columbus Crew ownership group Precourt Sports Ventures were hoping to have the framework in place to build a stadium in Austin by Thursday night. Instead, they’ll have to wait a little bit longer.

The Austin City Council was set to vote on a term sheet agreed on by Austin city administrators and PSV but after two hours of public comments and 20 amendments proposed to the agreement, the council eventually tabled the discussion to Wednesday morning. The amendments led to harsh words from Austin mayor Steve Adler, who called them “poison pills,” in effect delaying or killing the deal by bureaucracy.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Adler later said that the term sheet will be voted on by the city council on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m. local time).

The term sheet, recently revised by PSV and agreed to between the city and PSV, calls for the building of a soccer-specific stadium at McKalla Place, located 10 miles north of downtown Austin. The deal calls for the team to finance the construction of the stadium at the site and then for the city to lease the land to PSV for $1 per year and then for the team to pay $550,000 per year in rent from the sixth year and on. In addition, a non-relocation clause has ironically been added.

However, amendments to the term sheet include raising yearly payments to nearly $1 million per season, that PSV should pay the full cost of having a transit station site next to the stadium (instead of splitting the costs with the city) and another final vote on the stadium.

One of the most interesting parts of Thursday evening’s council meeting was the revelation that PSV has missed a pair of MLS-imposed deadlines to complete a stadium deal, first in early July and then August 10. We’ll see if MLS will continue to move the goalposts to allow PSV to continue to move the Crew.

Council members also discussed on Thursday the impact of the ongoing lawsuit against PSV by the city of Columbus and state of Ohio, which could stall or delay the Crew’s departure. Things could change on Wednesday but as of this point, it looks like the Crew will be in Columbus for the 2019 season.

Report: Meram heading back to the Crew

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A familiar face looks to be heading back to Columbus.

After just seven months in Florida, Orlando City has reportedly completed a trade with the Columbus Crew, sending Meram back to the Crew in exchange for $750,000 in target allocation money and a 2019 international roster spot. The move sees Meram return to the team and coach he played his best soccer for, becoming a league star in 2017 with 13 goals and seven assists.

[READ: Can Arsenal return to the top 4?]

Meram originally joined Orlando City in January, having asked for a move away from Columbus with his value sky-high. In return, the Crew received $700,000 in TAM and 300,000 in GAM, which the club ends up netting in the deal. But Meram never found his old form playing for Jason Kreis and now James O’Connor, and as soon as O’Connor came in, it seemed Meram was ready to go elsewhere.

In 17 games, Meram scored just one goal and set up three others. In the prior four seasons under Gregg Berhalter in Columbus, Meram played in at least 31 games each season and recorded a combined 32 goals and 29 assists.

One of Meram’s reasons for leaving Columbus in the first place was he wasn’t happy about the uncertainty over whether the club would be leaving the city for Austin, Texas at the end of this season, or next. But it appears Meram found out the hard way that other teams can’t give him what Berhalter has. Freedom to attack, cut in from the left wing and play a huge role for a title-contender.