I am going to go ahead and come out and say it. It hurts to say it but it needs to be said. The post Guillermo Barros Schelotto project failed. There I said it. I am not happy to say it but I said it all the same. Some of you may be saying, “But Kevin, the Crew made the play-offs” and looking at me with hurt eyes like I just betrayed you and the Crew. However, that is the truth. Look at how the season went.
I will even paraphrase the season in three little words; up and down. This applies to not only their play on the field but also their Eastern Conference standings. At one point they were defensive titans and not allowing any goals, however they were not scoring goals either. The forward position was lacking in the creative area leaving everything to the midfield. What were they to do? Would the forwards have been complemented by the dynamic play of Schelotto? Of course they would have been, minus Andres Mendoza who I will deal with later. But alas, there was no one in the midfield to feed them. The biggest problem that the Crew faced last season was lack of scoring. Their first half scoring was deplorable and their penchant for scoring late was maddening. Again this all leads to the midfield. Too much was put on Robbie Rogers’ shoulders and Eddie Gavin was stuck between playing striker and playing on the wing. The Crew recognized that there would be a gap in their scoring ability so they looked at their DP Andres Mendoza. He was a part of the formula that led to the fall of the Crew. His antics on and off the field were bad for the club and had no place in Columbus, just ask Jeff Cunningham. Mendoza notched only fifteen goals in forty appearances. The numbers talk of the failure of Mendoza while wearing the Columbus Crew colors.
That is enough of last season; let’s look at this season. The Crew lost some people one being Robbie Rodgers. I admit I was very critical of his play at Columbus. Do I regret it? Not one bit. I said that when he went to South Africa for the World Cup it was good for the Crew and it turned out it was. They played better because they were not relying so much on his speed. He is a fast player but he lacks in the “soccer sense” department. I wish him all the luck at Leeds United. The Crew still have gaps at the forward position and still lack creativity in the midfield, as of right now. Let’s face it, they were young last season and they are still young this season, with an average age as of writing this at 24 years old. That being said, the players coming back from last year are a year older and have a year more experience. The Crew have signed another Home Grown Player, Ben Speas, who had an impressive college career notching two National Championships with two different universities. They were able to lock in Eddie Gavin and Chad Marshall to new contracts and shored up the defense. The expectation for this season is to have more production from the forward position. My hope is that Emilio Renteria stays healthy, Tom Heinemann lets his hair down, and that Olman Vargas can use his speed on the counter attack. All this is to get more goals in the run of play and more goals earlier in the game. If this happens in the forward position then it will allow the defense to sit back and not have to push up field to help in the offense.
What I want from this team this year is to be consistent. Last year’s downfall was the inability of the Crew to score goals. If they can get more dynamic play from the forwards and better passing from the midfield, look for a great season with this young and hungry team. Look at the veterans, Gaven and Marshall, to steady the team and look at the youth, Speas and Heinemann, to impress and push the team to be better. That is the way I see it. Win or lose enjoy the beautiful game and make today better than yesterday.