MLS ’11 Preview: Columbus Crew

Photo by GregHickman

Editor’s note: In our daily MLS 2011 Preview, the next team to be reviewed and analyzed is Columbus Crew. Will the Rodney Dangerfield of MLS be able to earn more respect in 2011? Read Kristan’s preview and predictions…

Team Name

The Columbus Crew

Stadium and Location

The Columbus Crew Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

Coach (with record as MLS coach)

Robert Warzycha (POL)

2010 LEAGUE RESULTS: Pts: 50 Record: 14-8-8 2nd in the Eastern Conference.

2010 REVIEW: Last season was a good one for Colubmus in the Eastern conference. Finishing second only to the New York Red Bulls the team racked up 50 points in what was coach Robert Warzycha’s second season as Head Coach. The Pole had Argentine Guillermo Barros Schelotto to thank for his contributions, leading both the goals and assists table for the club the veteran proving his class once again. His cause was helped by midfielder Eddie Gavan’s assits and fuzzy haired forward Steve Lendhart chipping in with 6 goals. The highest scorers in the East The Crew will want to focus on defensive strength this campaign as they let in 31 goals last term.

ROSTER ADDITIONS: It’s all change in the Columbus ranks with a many a new face joining the Ohio side. Much travelled Jeff Cunningham makes a return to where it all began, no doubt brought in to fill the striking void left by Schelotto. Warzycha has also looked to draw on his Eastern European knowledgebase with the acquisition of Serb, Dejan Rusmir. The poor defensive record has looked to be addressed with Chilean defender Sebastian Miranda coming in to sure up the back line alongside youngster Josh Balchan. The Super Draft saw The Crew pick up Kwaku Nyamekye, defender Ben Sippola, Venezualan Bernardo Anorl and Cole Grossman who made his debut in the CONCACAFF Champions League against Real Salt Lake. USA U-20 defender Korey Veeder joins alongside 26 year old goalie Ray Burse, the host of new faces meaning it’s very much all change for The Fighting Canaries.

ROSTER SUBTRACTIONS: It’s difficult to look past Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s departure. The veteran surprisingly deemed surplus to requirements despite a strong season last year. Fellow Argentine Gino Padula was also let go and Duncan Oughton announced his retirement from the game at 33. The quartet of ageing departures was complete with former Captain Frankie Hejduk moving cross country to LA Galaxy. Steve Lenhart moved to San Jose Earthquakes and defender Eric Brunner joins the Portland Timbers along with Scotsman Adam Moffat. The outgoings were rounded off with Brian Carroll joining the Portland Timbers on the back of his playoff penalty miss.

PROJECTED STARTERS: Tuesday’s CONCACAFF Champions League game saw a continuation of last year’s 4-4-2 with the ball being played out wide often. FORWARDS: Emilio Renteria and Andrés Mendoza provide strength and pace in the attack and complimented well with goal scorer Jeff Cunningham give The Crew a strong attacking trio that could see them continue their good goal scoring form of last season.

MIDFIELD: The explosive prospect Emmanuel Ekpo will look to provide the attacking threat with Cole Grossman likely to sit back and hold. The wide positions pick themselves with Eddie Gavan and US international Robbie Rogers on the left and right respectively.

DEFENSE AND GOAL: 26 year old Raymond Burse sits behind a centre back pairing of Englishman Andy Iro and youngster Rich Balchan. Josh Gardener was deputized to left back for the game against Real Salt Lake with Chilean Sebastian Miranda making up the back four.

KEY PLAYER: It would seem Jeff Cunningham has been brought in to replace star man Guillermo Barros Schelotto. His goals record speaks for itself and despite starting on the bench against Salt Lake he will no doubt be the spearhead for The Crew’s attack.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Nomadic Frenchman Leandre Griffit comes with one Swedish Championship to his name and a lot of potential. At 26 it’s now or never for the former Southampton trainee who started last year well and is highly rated by the club’s fans after moving to Ohio from Belgian club Centre.

OUTLOOK: It’s very much a year of transition for Colubmus, out with the old and in with the new younger squad members. A promising early start to the season was ruined with a first round playoff defeat. Headcoach Robert Warzycha is now entering his third season in charge and has used the off season to fully stamp his mark on the club with a host of his own additions. The true test for Columbus will be whether they have managed to address the failings of last term. A shakey defence still looks weak and inexperienced and while I predict a good Eastern Conference performance I think they will struggle come the play offs.

PREDICTION: 52 pts, 2nd Eastern Conference

13 thoughts on “MLS ’11 Preview: Columbus Crew”

  1. I think their performance in Tuesday’s CONCACAF match supports your analysis. That team did not look like one on the complete rebuild, which is what I thought they would look like. Instead, it looked like a pretty quality team that could make noise in the regular season.

  2. I agree with Robert Hay.

    The team is NOT a complete “rebuild project”, even if many of the faces have changed.

    Plus the East is wide open, they have to be in the running for one of the top 3 spots, but I guess you could say that about most of the East.

  3. Wow I used to read this blog, I’m glad I can cross it off my list now. Brian Carroll to Portland? Try Philly.

    You misspell “Colubmus” in the first line and later say that “Chilean defender Sebastian Miranda coming in to sure up the back line.”

    Misspell Josh Gardner by writing “Josh Gardener” and state that Crew drafted Kwaku Nyamekye in this year’s draft when he was a 2010 pick.


    1. Ok, I can understand the need for comments that “straighten the record.” As I found doing my research, it can be difficult to locate all of the transactions, draft picks, trends, etc. Kris did miss a few things, and while I’m not excusing anything, the part that troubles me is this instant “attack” mentality in the comments section. Things have ramped up here in intensity on the site in the past few days, starting with all the hullabaloo about single table/pro-rel stuff.

      Comments are more than welcome, especially productive comments that are going to further the discussion. I don’t see where a “this one article is so awful that I’m taking my toys and going home” type barrage is necessary.

      We appreciate our readers, and will redouble our efforts to be sure our articles are interactive, accurate, and entertaining for our audience.

  4. First: It’s Rich Balchan, not Josh.

    Second: Are you completely forgetting Chad Marshall? What about William Hesmer? And what of rookie striker Justin Miram? Are Shaun Francis and Dilly Duka not worth a mention just because they didn’t play on Tuesday, even though they’ll most likely be regulars? Is Danny O’Rourke a nobody as well?

    Third: Dejan Rusmir has not been signed to anything yet, and whether or not he is offered a contract is still up for debate. He’s not even listed on the team’s website as of this writing.

    Fourth: Spelling. Wow.

    You are cementing the idea that Columbus is the Rodney Dangerfield of MLS by not even giving them the basic respect of research beyond who played during the first leg of a preseason Champions League match. As a “news source” one would think you would put a little more thought into your work.

  5. I guess the author just doesn’t see a spot for MLS All-Star Chad Marshall when he comes back from injury, and prefers third string GK Ray Burse over the injured Will Hesmer & his regular also injured back up.

    When O’Rourke, Francis & Duka also come back from injury it’s possible this projected lineup will be less than half correct. Well done!

    Also, love the multiple typos and incoherent sentences.

  6. As you said ‘Wow’ those players are injured. My line up is based on who can play not the best eleven on paper.

    Thank you for your feedback however. I can only apologize for the errors.

    1. “As you said ‘Wow’ those players are injured. My line up is based on who can play not the best eleven on paper.”

      That comment is such an obvious lie to save face it’s hard to muster the enthusiasm to refute the total inanity of the idea as it stands on it own.

      If you had read but one preview of the CL game (where you seem to have gleamed all of your knowledge about the Columbus Crew) you would’ve known that Marshall had hit his head the day before in practice. Not exactly a threat to miss the season there. But the reality is that you had never heard of Chad Marshall to begin with.

      Due to the amount of misinformation contained within anyone reading this preview with no prior knowledge of the team would end up knowing -less- about the Crew than they did before. That’s impressive.

  7. Kris – If your “lineup is based on who can play not the best eleven on paper” then what exactly are you previewing here? Surely not the 2011 MLS season, because to leave the injured players out on purpose is both unfair to the club and extremely inaccurate. Maybe you’re just a bit late in posting an Champion’s League preview. If this is a season preview, shouldn’t you at least mention the potential impact of the injured guys?

    As it is now, this is a very incomplete sideways-glance at the 2011 Crew (from a writer who obviously isn’t paying much attention to his subject), and should be discounted as horse dung.

  8. Yeah I appreciate that Chris, but when you’ve got a team like Columbus who’ve had such an overhaul it can sometimes be difficult to fit it all in. I came into Colubmus very fresh and I can only apologise to both yourself and the other discontent readers I hope my Galaxy preview finds you better. I’d love to get your feedback on that piece which debuts very soon.

    Thanks again – Kris.

  9. 1) Jeff Cunningham as “Key Player”. There is a good chance he may not even start. Renteria has his feet under him in MLS, and the Crew are reportedly paying a hefty price tag for Mendoza. There is a whole host of names you could list here. Maybe last year’s Team MVP Eddie Gaven. Maybe Robbie Rogers or Emmanuel Ekpo, both of whom need to finally step up and realize their potential. What about one of the top center-halves in the league in Chad Marshall or his central partner Andy Iro, who had a breakout 2010. I could go on, but the point is that Cunningham was brought in to add a proven goalscorer and depth, not to replace Schelotto.

    2. The Crew could slot any number of players in central midfield. Kevin Burns or Danny O’Rourke could play the holding role, both of whom at this point sit ahead of Grossman in the depth chart (although Grossman looked good against RSL). Dilly Duka could play at attacking center mid, or Eddie Gaven could move to the middle, with Ekpo moving out wide. Grossman is far from a starting XI lock.

    3. Ray Burse may not even be on this team if it weren’t for injuries to Hesmer (the clear starter) and Gruenebaum (the very capable backup).

    4. Josh Gardner is a left mid who was deployed at left back in an emergency situation, with Francis (the clear starter) being hurt.

    5. I know another commenter said this, but no mention of Chad Marshall (who is a favorite to be Captain) is mind-boggling. He has won MLS Defender of the Year in 2008 and 2009 and was in the final cuts for the 2010 US World Cup Team. Oops.

    6. I’m tired of wasting my time exposing errors in this piece, and I believe my fellow posters have done a great job in doing so as well. I’m an avid listener of EPL Talk and read their blog, but both the MLS Talk Podcast and the blog really need to step up their game. This season preview was lazy and garbage.

    1. Cunningham didn’t start at Dallas, you saying he wasn’t a key player there ?
      He is a key player if he gets time and he will.

      Give it a rest Matt, I appreciate there were some mistakes made, some serious, but we actually talking soccer on this site. Lets not ruin it.

      I am amazed on just how deep the Crew is. When they didn’t sign GBS I thought it was mistake, but the East is weak and they are deep.

      Where do peoople think they finish ?

  10. I do agree that Crew will be interesting this year and also my have retooled rather then rebuild. We all make mistakes so don’t worry about. I view that by being impressed with the CCL line up the Crew look like they will have a very deep roster this year. So, here is hoping the Crew surprising a a lot of people this season.

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