Monday, November 22, 2010

11/23/2010: Columbus Crew Hit The Self-Destruct Button

11/23/2010: Columbus Crew Hit The Self-Destruct Button

The Crew have had by far one of the most stable lineups in MLS over the last three to four years. That stability of strong players and strong personalities has culminated in two Supporters Shields, two CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals appearances, and one MLS Cup. The stability and success that goes with it may not be anymore however. As this past week the Crew coaching staff and front office have decided to hit the red self-destruct button and blow up their group of leaders and larger-than-life players because of recent disappointments that were not completely the starting eleven's fault.

Crew General Manager Mark McCullers told the Dispatch last week that the current group isn't physical enough and cannot score enough goals. McCullers said, "I think we should have scored at least 10 more goals (in 2010)." But, whose fault is that? If the Crew coaching staff and front office wants more goals then maybe they should get around to actually signing a bonified goalscorer (no Herrera and Mendoza do not count) that Schelotto can actualy feed! Instead of umm, parting ways with a player that played a part in 17 of your goals in 2010. Further, going into 2010 the front office and coaching staff said that a 20 goals a year striker was the missing piece in the Crew's formula, and yet they never solved that problem. In fact, they failed miserably.

Just look at their solutions, Herrera, once described as gelling magically with Schelotto from the start and also described as the guy who will score goals by the boatload in 2010, played a minute in MLS for the Crew before being let go in July. And Mendoza may have scored a few goals for the Crew in 2010, but seems lazy as hell and won't chase after a ball that is more than two feet away from him. Also Mendoza misses quite a few sitters that, for example, could of put the Rapids (the eventual 2010 MLS Champions) away early in these 2010 playoffs.

Further, maybe the actual problem in 2010 was preferring players like Jason Garey and Steven Lenhart for too long up top, when both seem to stumble their way to 5 goals a year; while game changers like Renteria seem to languish on the bench, despite playing well and scoring goals at a clip. As I personally think that if Renteria started all 30 games, he would of scored 10-15 goals in 2010.

Further the disappointments don't just lay with the players, as the decisions of Robert Warzycha have been suspect for most of 2010. For example, in the home playoff game against the Rapids, the Rapids looked done and dusted; but Warzycha took out Ekpo (probably because of yellow, but still should of had some faith) who was playing fantastic and who is surprisingly a pretty good defensive midfielder. As soon as that change was made for Burns and company, the play started to turn in the Rapids favor and they were allowed to find a way back. That was just one of many dubious calls on the year from the bullpen, as the disappointments this year are half (if not more) the coaching staff's fault on this season. Nevertheless, the coaches get off scott free while players who have given a hell of a lot more over the last three years get placed on the chopping block.

Because of the recent cuts, this offseason the Crew will be scrambling to find a new attacking midfielder, a new defensive midfielder, a new right back, possibly a new left back, and of course a striker still that is worth something. Blowing up a stable squad, after a few disappointments, has worked so well in turning around clubs such as the Houston Dynamo and New England Revolution (that strong odor your smelling is sarcasm), so I guess the Crew have decided to go that route as well. Here is what will be gone next year and the upside and downside to these moves.

Guillermo Barros Schelotto- 102 games, 35 goals, 47 assists are gone. The best attacking midfielder in MLS by far over the last three years. Need a painful reminder, here you go:

Upside: None, some cap space to spend on some P.O.S. South American striker.
Downside: Legend is gone, only guy that consistently gets goals and assists yearly; Crew Stadium won't be the same without a Guillermo chant. And really should of let us know it was Guillermo's last game so the fans could at least say goodbye in a special way. Heartbreaking way to cut ties with a guy that has given us soo much.

Brian Carroll- Played 83 out of 90 games in the last three years, was a rock in defensive midfield.
Upside: Wasn't as consistent in 2010, but still one of the best defensive midfielder's in MLS.
Downside: Danny O'Rourke is are only worthwhile DM now. I'm okay with it if it means were going to only play with one DM, but have a feeling this means more playing time for questionably talented players such as Adam Moffat and Kevin Burns. I love the irony of how players like Guillermo and Carroll are being dropped, but players that haven't done crap (like Moffat) since the beginning of 2008 and players that are vastly overrated by Warzycha (Burns) somehow find themselves still on the roster.

One more thing, a second round pick for Brian Carroll! Jesus, at least get a first round pick, Carroll is worth that much as he would start defensive midfield on almost any team.

Frankie Hejduk-
Upside: Some questionable play at times in the past season; but still has a motor and gets down the wing well still.
Downside: His heart is with the Crew, as no one would be surprised if Frankie had Crew tattoo's all over his body. Lots of pride. Hejduk is a fan favorite and has put a lot of sweat in for this team. Also, despite Hejduk's small dip in form, I think the Crew are still going to have a tough time finding someone better at right back next season. Same for Schelotto's and Carroll's positions. As I doubt anyone is really going to just come in and make that position theirs next year?

Gino Padula-
Upside: Getting older, Crew will eventually need an upgrade at left back.
Downside: I still think Padula is better than the jittery Shaun Francis at left back and I'm not convinced Francis is a legitimate starter and replacement yet. I feel like Padula got injured and never got a chance to win back his position in 2010; although Padula looked good this year when he found the field.

Jason Garey-
Upside: Only move I'm totally okay with; as Garey got a free pass with the Crew for far too long, 15 goals in 83 games just isn't really good as a striker. Sure Garey showed flashes, but he was just a decent striker. Time for Garey to sell bonds or become an assistant manager or whatever half decent MLS players do after a short MLS career.
Downside: Bash Brothers two stick will now be irrevelant or worth more on ebay.

Leandre Griffit-
Not really seeing one, I thought Griffit looked lively when he was on the field in 2010. Crew went through quite a bit to bring him in the squad for nothing.
Downside: Crew are saying they want to go younger, but can't they see a young talent worth some time in the squad in their own roster? Griffit scored in his first four minutes on a MLS field and looked very talented and composed every time he stepped on the field for the Crew in 2010. Also, the only problem with Griffit was that he didn't get many chances to step on the field; while guys like Francis and Burns saw four times the minutes in 2010.

Because of that I'm scared of the coaching staff's thoughts on talent.

Nevertheless, the Crew have said they may restructure with Griffit, and should consider doing so because Griffit will be worth the cheap salary. If not, I'm sure someone in MLS will see Griffit's worth if the Crew don't... And the Crew will pay for it in the end.

Duncan Oughton- With the Crew for 9 years, good locker room guy and has done well off the bench for the Crew in recent years.
Upside: Probably hasn't been worth the salary space at times in the last few years but has done well when he has found the field in recent years.
Downside: Duncan is another heart and soul guy for the Crew. The Crew is losing a lot of heart and pride in their locker room with both Oughton and Frankie Hejduk now gone.

Overall, all I know is that this tranformation better lead to some damn results quick (and by that I mean trophies) or come 2011 some other heads will be on the chopping block and it won't be the players. Clark Hunt will be the one pushing some red buttons.


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