Things are getting ugly in Columbus. For a team that traded away their star player only to have his backup and replacement score four goals in the last two games, including the first hat trick for the team in 12 years( are you freaking kidding???), the Crew are floundering badly.
Averaging roughly one point per game thus far into the season, the Crew sit ninth in the Eastern Conference with the gap beginning to widen. It’s still relatively early and with the West the clear superior of the two conferences Columbus could still, and I think likely will, make the playoffs. But the turnaround has to start soon. The strange thing, though, is how the side is failing.
A little over a month ago I was sitting behind this laptop writing about how stingy the Crew back line was and how they needed more goals (For the record I wasn’t wrong either). Now the black and gold have done a complete u-turn. The Crew have shipped in 11 goals in the last five matches, three more than the previous eight. While this doesn’t sound horrible at first, really think about it. The majority of matches won’t be won when two or more goals are allowed. Consider also, one of those five matches was a 0-0 and the calamitous nature of the defense on the four others comes into focus.
Luckily, though for the Crew, a twist of unfortunate luck has a lot to do with this slump. Injuries to key players and national team call-ups have decimated Gregg Berhalter’s options. For a reference only four outfield players made the bench Wednesday versus the Philadelphia Union.
Here we go, first choice center back Gaston Sauro is out for around four months with a ligament injury, third choice center back Tyson Wahl is sidelined with concussion symptoms,
umpteenth choice midfielder forth choice center back Rodrigo Saravia has been called up by his national team, first choice right back and key player Harrison Afful has been called up by his national team, first team midfielder Tony Tchani is out with concussion symptoms, backup midfielder Emil Larson has been called up by his national team, and recent 1st choice winger Cedric Mabwati was called up by his national team.
Really? After actually writing all those out I’m actually surprised I didn’t get a call to try out for the team. Every one of those players has been in or around the starting 11 in the past month.
The good news though for the Crew is that the problem is mostly short-term and they don’t have another match to play for two and a half weeks. While it would have been nice to go into the break with three or even one point from the leaders of the East the rest still should be welcome around Columbus. It gives them time to get guys healthy and back in the country. Assuming Kamara, Ola, that is, (THIS WILL NEVER GET OLD) can stay hot and the defense can plug players back in with previous effectiveness the Crew could once again be a force to be reckoned with in a few weeks time.