As most of you know, in 2008, the Columbus Crew won the MLS Supporters’ Shield and the MLS Cup. In 2009, they won the Supporters’ Shield once again. Since then, the Crew haven’t picked up any major hardware.
After Columbus’ game against Philadelphia on Saturday, they have played 25 MLS games this season. How does that stack up against the first 25 games of the past three years? Here, have a look for yourself:
2008: 14-6-5 (47 points)
44 goals for, 31 goals against
2009: 11-4-10 (43 points)
38 goals for, 28 goals against
2010: 13-7-5 (44 points)
33 goals for, 27 goals against
2011: 11-7-7 (40 points)
29 goals for, 29 goals against
As you can see, this year is the worst of the four seasons point wise. The first year without former MLS MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto has lead to this year being the worst offensively since 2008 as well.
The defense, still lead by two-time MLS Defender of the Year Chad Marshall, has remained consistent and is still among one of the top defenses in the league.
The 2008, 2009, and 2010 seasons all consisted of 30 league games, where as this year there are 34 regular season matches. However, this year’s team is still about a win or two behind the previous years’ pace.
Robert Warzycha took over for Sigi Schmid as head coach of the Crew after the glorious year of 2008. During this year’s off season, Warzycha completely revamped the roster, getting rid of many veterans and fan favorites, and bringing in a lot of younger players. This season, the Crew are truly his team, and they are playing the style he wants them to play.
As previous years have shown, the regular season doesn’t mean much once playoff time comes around. In 2009, Real Salt Lake made it into the playoffs as the eighth and very last seed, where they proceeded to make it all the way to the MLS Cup Final, beating the LA Galaxy in penalties. In 2010, the Colorado Rapids were the seventh seed. They defeated FC Dallas in the final, 2-1.
Columbus should know better than any other team that getting hot at the right time is what matters. The past two years, the eventual MLS Cup winners have upset them and knocked them out of the playoffs in the very first round.
I think this year’s success will be solely determined on playoff success. Sure, Coach Warzycha has lead this team to first place in the Eastern Conference with only nine games left in the regular season and is in discussions for Coach of the Year. But the Crew were knocked out of the CONCACAF Champions League before the season started and were defeated in their first game of the U.S. Open Cup by third division Richmond Kickers. They only have the MLS season to concentrate on, and they need to put all their eggs in the MLS basket.
Beating Los Angeles for the Supporters’ Shield this year is a long shot, but going into the playoffs on a roll could make the MLS Cup a very reasonable aspiration. What do you think? Can Robert Warzycha lead the Columbus Crew to the promised land once again? Can this year be as legendary as 2008? Let us know!