Columbus is officially red hot. The Crew on their third straight match Saturday night and are now undefeated in the last four. As we discussed on the Major League Soccer Talk podcast a few weeks back, the remarkable comeback at Gillette Stadium to draw east leading New England 3-3 seemed to have changed the entire psychology of the Columbus team. Sigi Schmidt, who is renowned for working with young players has brought in veteran Argentine maestro Guilermo Baros Schelleto to help groom the younger players and it seems to be working.
After being left for dead as one of MLS’ worst clubs by most critics just three weeks ago, the Crew are now only four points out of first place in the ultra competitive Eastern Conference. What happens next in the East is anyone’s guess. I tend to believe with Fred finally integrated in the attack, when Jaime Moreno and Ben Olsen return from Copa America, DC United will once again be the league’s best team. But too many other formidable sides including Columbus, and of course Red Bull NY, Kansas City and New England play in the East to assume anything. Toronto FC’s scoring punch especially at home makes them a potential sleeper, and Chicago is struggling but now has two foreign slots open so they can be aggressive in the transfer market. (This week Chicago waived Pascal Bedrosian, and Honduran Midfielder Ivan Guerrero received his green card meaning he no longer counts as an international player under league rules.)
In the Western Conference, FC Dallas and Houston appear to be the two best teams, while Chivas USA is difficult to beat at home even though they seem to be getting smaller and smaller crowds for each home match. Colorado has faded while the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake are clearly the worst teams in the league right now.