Columbus Crew Season Preview

Columbus Crew Season Preview

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On March 11, 2008

Forth installment in the 2008 Season Previews here at Today we look at the small-market Columbus Crew and how they should fare this season.

2007 Record and Finish: 9-11-10, 37 points, 9th overall, 6th overall in the east, missed they playoffs by 3 points

Player Movement:

Incoming: Brain Carroll (trade with San Jose), Andy Iro (SuperDraft), George Josten (SuperDraft), Ricardo Pierre-Louis (SuperDraft), Steven Lenhart (SuperDraft), Billy Chiles (Supplemental Draft), Cory Elenio (Supplemental Draft), Lukasz Tumicz (Supplemental Draft), Zola Short (Supplemental Draft), Nicolas Hernandez (trade with Colorado)

Outgoing: Ned Grabavoy (expansion draft), Kei Kamara (trade with San Jose), Andy Herron (trade with Chicago), Marcos Gonzalez (transfer), Tim Ward (trade with Colorado), Rusty Pierce (waived)

Questions Going Into 2008:

1. Who will score for the Crew…anyone?

Probably the biggest question on the minds of everyone in Columbus or even in Ohio for that matter. Last year the Crew weren’t the flashiest at scoring, only netting 39 as a team (8th in the league).

So who exactly will score for the Crew this season? Nicolas Hernandez seems to be the likeliest of candidates but everyone knows he won’t be able to do it all for the Crew by himself.

Robbie Rogers is a guy who has to step up this season and produce like many think he can and should. Alejandro Moreno should be another guy to score as he did lead the Crew with seven goals last season. Seven goals as the team leader will not be enough to get this club into the playoffs. They need a leading scorer to have at least 10 or 12 goals to even have hope of reaching the playoffs.

2. How big of a loss will Marcos Gonzalez be?

Huge. That’s the easiest way I can put the loss of Gonzalez on this Crew defense. Getting Andy Iro in the draft was big but I don’t know if he is ready to really fill the gap left by Gonzalez just yet. The Crew defense is good but it is very old. Some young guys like Iro have to step up in a big way this season. I did like the trade for Brian Carroll though, he will add some depth in the back and in the defensive midfield that is much needed to take the load off of keeper Will Hesmer.

3. Will Schelotto be happy enough to stay all year?

I think so but around June and July, Crew fans better hope things will be going well or else you will probably see GBS bolt town. If that happens then kiss any hope of a playoff dream good-bye and say hello to that second overall pick in the SuperDraft next winter (that is if they don’t trade it away).

A happy GBS means the Crew have a fighting chance at the playoffs, but an unhappy GBS only spells trouble.

4. Will they land anybody else before the season to add depth to the roster?

I think so, right now they are in talks with a could trailist who have actually worked out in Sigi Schmid’s system. Right now they have one extra spot in the 18-man roster so a signing looks to be very near. Nigerian Emmanuel Epko and Brazilian Guilherme So will be development deals but I could see both making an impact on the senior roster side of things before long.

Trialists Mamadu Bah (Sierra Leone) and Osvaldo Alonso (Cuba) are still on the Crew’s radar. The Crew have some allocation money (somewhere in the $300-400k neighborhood) to make a deal either as a transfer or a trade within the league. My bet is the Crew sign Bah to a deal, since he is a striker and they need depth at that position. Alonso is a maybe at this point but signing him isn’t totally out of the question. He would add some depth to the midfield, which is also needed.

5. Will any draft picks pan out this season?

Iro seems to be the likely candidate to breakout this season. This team is still very young all around so it may not just be a draft pick that breaks out this season. Guys like Robbie Rogers, Andrew Peterson, Jason Grey, or Brad Evans could all still break out and surprise even the Crew fans that have seen them play for the last couple years.

Still, Iro will get quality playing time and should be able to contend for the Rookie of the Year award in the league. If he does the Crew will be fine in defense and should be in the thick of things in the east.

2008 Season Outlook:

If Columbus were a team in the west I would feel they would have a better chance at reaching the playoffs right now. But they aren’t and the east is too loaded up top with DC, New England and even KC and Chicago to an extent now that the Wizards have a DP on their roster.

Columbus tried and failed at landing a DP this off-season but I think if they can get one this summer they will be able to make a nice push for the playoffs late in the year. We all know that if you stay right around the median in this league that a sudden burst after the summer transfer window can easily put you in the playoffs. Ask Chicago last year what Blanco (and to an extent Juan Carlos Osorio) did for them late last season. The league is set up for late runs by clubs to reach the playoffs.

Will the Crew be able to do it? Sure if they can find a reliable scorer up top. Like I said they need a 10 to 12 goal scoring leader in order to even contend for the playoffs this year in the east. Schelotto has to be able to reach the 15 assist total for that to happen as well. He had 11 last year and the Crew came up a win short of the playoffs. A couple more and you can bet they would have been in last year.

Winning in the east will be tough and their schedule is balanced enough that they should be able to do alright. Again for the Crew it just comes down to scoring. The defense is there for the most part, the midfield will be fine it just all hangs on who will score.