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MLS- Columbus Crew

SBI MLS Team Previews: Columbus Crew

CCrew
By TRAVIS CLARK

Fresh off the heels of a second consecutive Supporters' Shield, the pressure is on Columbus to stay at the top.

Nearly the entire established first XI from last year returns, with only Alejandro Moreno departing for Philadelphia via the expansion draft. The biggest move Columbus made in the offseason was re-signing former MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto, and the diminutive Argentine remains key to the Crew's 2010 aspirations.

Columbus has already showed what they are capable of in the CONCACAF Champions League, narrowly losing 5-4 on aggregate to Toluca in the quarterfinals. A deep and talented side, the Crew are poised for another successful season.

Here's a look at the 2010 Columbus Crew:

2010 COLUMBUS CREW

Players to Watch – Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Robbie Rogers, Emmanuel Ekpo, Chad Marshall

Key Arrivals – Dilly Duka, Sergio Herrera, Othaniel Yanez

Key Departures – Alejandro Moreno

Projected Lineup (New starters in bold)

———————–Steven Lenhart—————————–

—————————-Guillermo Barros Schelotto———-

Robbie Rogers——–Emmanuel Ekpo————Eddie Gaven

————————–Brian Carroll——————————

Gino Padula–Chad Marshall–Danny O'Rourke–Frankie Hejduk

————————–Will Hesmer——————————-

Big Question – Can Schelotto stay healthy? The Argentine is the most important weapon in Columbus' attack, but at 36 years old (turning 37 in May), questions will abound about his health and stamina. Given the Crew's demanding schedule in 2010, with both the Champions League and Open Cup campaigns to deal with.

Schelotto and Robert Warzycha will work closely to monitor the attacker's minutes and ensure that he remains fits for the long haul. Columbus has the depth to cope without him, but they're a much better attacking team with Schelotto in the lineup.

X-Factor – Robbie Rogers and Emmanuel Ekpo both turn 23 this year. Each has at least a couple years of MLS experience under his belt. Both have shown flashes of extraordinary talent giving way to moments of frustration.

If either one can excel on a consistent basis, it would give Columbus a huge lift in the attacking half. Not only that, it could ease the pressure off Schelotto and allow the Crew to contend in multiple competitions this year.

Outlook – Columbus has done extremely well to keep together the core of the 2008 MLS Cup winning side. While it didn't work out in the playoffs last year, third consecutive Supporters' Shield is within reach. In what could be Schelotto's last season in Columbus, there's no question that he would want to go out on top.

22 comments
  • understood

    ekpo is a MUCH better player than rogers…if they keep rogers on the wing his career is gonna fizzle out like justin mapps…i think hed be better off working on his shooting and try to transition into being a speedy striker…i just dont think he has great technique or good vision

    Like

  • GJ

    Agree, Rogers needs to step up his game and work on his shooting.
    Its gonna be another season on the top.

    Like

  • Martin Blank

    I watched them play against Toluca and, man, Schelotto looked fat. Not Landin fat, but cetainly not fit. If he’s not 100% in shape at his age, he’s going to be suffering one nagging injury after another. Check out the Youtube highlights, he’s definitely sporting a little paunch belly.

    Like

  • scott47a

    Outsider’s take: Still one of the best teams in the league. Solid in all phases of the game.

    Will be interesting to see if Lehnert or one of the South Americans becomes the main striker threat.

    I’d count on a playoff berth and a legitimate shot at Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup again this year.

    Like

  • Doug

    Pretty much agree with scott’s take. I doubt Lenhart will be the normal starter. In pre-season, Lenhart and Renteria played together, while Schelotto and Herrera were always paired together. It was hinted that Herrera wasn’t match fit for the Toluca game – esp. being that it was played at 8,000 feet – while Lenhart had just come off a 2 goal game. There’s going to be real competition for playing time at striker for the Crew. The good news is that these guys appear to bring different combinations of strengths to the club, strengths that compliment one another. It’ll be easier to Schelotto to play limited minutes with this group of attackers, as opposed to what we had to work with last season.

    Further, I think the 2nd central midfield position is Adam Moffat’s to lose. Yeah, Ekpo could play there, but frankly he was a disaster in that role last year.

    Like

  • Brant

    The one thing Columbus has that the others don’t is depth. It’s taken 3 years to build it, but Columbus has 4 legit center-backs, 4 zippy wings, and 4 solid strikers. Lose Marshall? Bring in Brunner. Lose Padula? O’Rourke pushes out and bring in Iro. You can’t play Ekpo, Rogers, and Gaven all on the wings, but it’s a nice problem to have.

    And don’t forget that in the 6 games GBS missed last year, The Crew were 6-0-0.

    Like

  • Isaac

    What I’d like to see is that Rogers doesn’t be so calculating and just…go with it. I know that seems vague, but that was his strategy in 2008 and his production rate was much higher than it was last year. He took full advantage of his explosivity, youth, skill, pace and energy. It’s nice to see him more keen on making smart decisions and delivering great crosses, but it’s like he’s almost completely forgotten/lost that edge that made him so great in 2008. Hopefully he can combine the edgy Rogers from 2008 and the intelligent Rogers of 2009/10 and be a more complete player. He has all the tools a winger would want, he just needs to unleash it.

    Like

  • DCD

    Obviously a joke, but let’s face it — the logo looks appropriate for a troupe of male strippers, not a soccer team.

    ANYWAY, we’re all curious to see how Robbie Rogers does. Safe to say Columbus may very well finish just a couple of games ahead of the UNION. Oh well.

    Like

  • 110toyourleft

    Your lineup is wrong. O’Rourke will play in place of Brunner and Moffat will take Ekpo’s place. With Chad Marshall out on Saturday, we’ll lilely see:

    Lenhart…Schelotto

    Rogers…Moffat…Gaven

    …..Carroll…..

    Padula…Brunner…O’Rourke…Hejduk

    …Hesmer

    Like

  • FDV

    This might sound crazy but we might see Zayner take over right back this year. I personally belive he was better than Hejduk last year. I also would like to see Ekpo start over Rogers. Rogers has been very frustrating to watch. I also hope we can get Marshall back to full health. Brunner is a very poor defender when the ball is played on the ground (tall and lanky vs speedy, see last years playoffs).

    Like

  • Chris

    I actually look to either Renteria or Herrera instead of SL. I don’t really care as long as we get another goal threat besides GBS.

    Like

  • DCD

    Not to get too far from the pitch, but . . . the problem is that calling your team the “Crew” is not that far from calling your team “Team.” Hence, you probably don’t want to mess around trying to fit a literal representation of a “mascot” in the crest — just ends up being a bunch of dudes. They could just put the skyline and a big letter “C”, maybe with black and yellow stripes behind it, and call it a day.

    That said, I do kind of prefer the proposed Stalin-esque logo to the current, weird “Hot Cops” logo.

    Like

  • UPthaTOON

    I fully expect Moffat to start over Ekpo.. also, I could see Lenhart having a break-out year.

    Like

  • Brock

    Sorry to bust your balls but danny o’rourke will be in our starting XI and has been a vital key to the crew success the past few years.

    Like

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