Go back to a week ago.. Did you expect the Crew's big move on Re-Entry Draft day to be Chad Marshall out and Daniel Paladini in? For an organization that has been very predictable and safe since 2008, bold may be better (and if it's not what have we really lost?)
Re-Entry Draft Day One
Last Thursday, the day of the re-entry draft, I was hoping for a positive move.
I didn't take my phone with me to work to keep updated that day. Instead, for once I wanted to build up some excitement to check out mlssoccer.com this offseason.
When I got home that day at 5:30 pm, I saw that Chad Marshall was traded for a 2015 3rd Round Superdraft Pick.
It wasn't exactly the excitement I had in mind. It wasn't exactly Zakuani or Franklin (or even Barklage). On paper, losing Chad Marshall had about the defensive sexiness of Noah Palmer in goal.
My mouth was open for a minute. I was confused. My first thought was, "for a third round superdraft pick, what the, are you kidding me?"
What we least expect, can scare us.
Were used to seeing Chad Marshall jumping over strikers and using his titanium headers to send balls back up to midfield.
Without him our defense seems unnatural.
My next thought was, "I'm going to post something."
But, I had nothing. This is something that needs processed, tabled for a few days, my mind just couldn't figure out what to write at that time.
Acceptance came next. It came a lot faster when I saw that parting with Marshall would clear $500,000 dollars (for a defender). Almost 1/5th of our roster space.
$500,000 dollars is a lot of money for anyone on last year's Crew team. Nearly every player looked inconsistent on a inconsistent team, and the whole lineup was expendable in a way. Marshall (if you can clear your head of all the glory images of 2008) hasn't been nearly as good for that money, has a concussion history, and will be a free agent in 2015.
But, don't take it as a blanket acceptance.
I caution the Crew and Berhalter to get moving quickly on the direction of the club. The Greunebaum rights trade makes sense right away when you have Lampson and now Clark to fill that void. He has someone in mind to fill the void. Fine.
If he has someone great in mind to replace Marshall then he should get moving on that, if he thinks his youth might be able to replace that in a different system then he should say that. If he thinks a defensive void in Marshall can lead to securing multiple voids then he should say that. Berhalter has to have someone great in mind that will get the fans excited. The longer that is unclear the more legitimate it is to think there was someone of value to receive for Marshall, other than a $30,000 dollar Superdraft pick.
But, do I think it is the end of the world that Marshall is gone. No.
Josh Williams may have more upside, more hunger, and may make more sense as our main, defensive leader these next few years.
The 25 year old from Akron, could anchor and lead the defense from here on in if he is up to the challenge. That's fine if Berhalter gives him the challenge.
Also, I believe, our defense could improve overall by playing younger, quicker defenders that can play offensively too (if Berhalter learned anything from playing in Holland that may make sense to him).
Barson, Williams, Francis, and perhaps George and Wiet may end up being an improvement if a good defender could teach them some of that play. Especially if the Crew add in a few cheap, young internationals or MLSer's to battle them in those positions.
I wouldn't be surprised if other Crew defenders in the roster (or that the Crew still hold rights to) are not really in Berhalter's plans.
I would not be too sad to see Glauber, Viana, and Wahl not be our main plans (because they couldn't be taught to play a up-tempo style). We were slow in defense last year and sometimes got killed because of it.
Of course, I'm grateful for what Chad Marshall has done over his Crew career. Chad Marshall was great at times last season. But, at times Chad Marshall was that comfortable employee.
His career could use a new surrounding and the Crew back line could perhaps use a new leader.
Sure, we need two strong center backs and Marshall is better than what we currently have on this day (with their training and the system that was in place), but is it too crazy to think that someone cheaper in defense (in a new system) will do the same or better than Marshall or Glauber could do in 2014?
This goes for anyone on last season's team. Marshall, Greunebaum, Higuain, Arrieta, etc; There all expendable because the overall effort was not good enough to get into the playoffs. They all may have had the best intentions but either they were gone too much, injured too much, or not consistent enough to make us a good team.
The pessimistic half of Crew fans say "we couldn't make the playoffs last year, how are we going to this year without our core?"
Well, if we don't make the playoffs, without our core, are we any worse off compared to last season?
Instead it makes just as much sense to say, "well that didn't work, let's try something else completely different under a new coach."
Without Gaven (who was the biggest piece), it makes sense just to clear out the rest and try again. A new group of players will respond more to a new coach that brings them in, compared to a group of comfortable players that perhaps believes that the locker room is theirs.
Paladini is cheap and serviceable in midfield.
Steve Clark and Matt Lampson are probably as good and cheaper than Greunebaum.
Marshall was a captain of a defense last year that was not that good.
Gregg Berhalter, ironically, was a defender who as a coach wants to spend the bulk of his money on attacking players. Let's see what he goes out and gets before crying too much over a group that was not good enough in 2013.