When the 2011 MLS All-Stars played Manchester United at Red Bull Arena last year, not one Columbus Crew player took the field to represent the league’s best. The unnecessary game is realistically just another opportunity for players to get injured, with reputation the only thing on the line. The lack of Crew players on the 2011 roster didn’t bother me at all, along with the fact that almost no one actually deserved a spot, except maybe right-back Sebastian Miranda.
Although this year, there is a Crew player that stands out among all others as one who should make an appearance against Chelsea when the MLS All-Stars face off against the English side on July 25th.
Goalie Andy Gruenebaum has been one of the few mainstays for the Crew in 2012. His presence has been a glue for the entire team, often bailing out his defenders’ mistakes and winning games or at least retaining a point for Columbus every week out. Only one bad outing against the New York Red Bulls in April (a 4-1 loss at home) has put a stain on Gruenebaum’s otherwise fantastic season.
Through the first 13 games of the season, Gruenebaum has five shutouts, and his goals against average is at a very solid 1.00. As I’m writing this, he is also leading the entire league in saves with 57.
The miraculous story of Gruenebaum’s play is that he has never been the Crew’s first choice goalie in his previous six years with the team. He only appeared in 26 MLS games during that span. Gruenebaum has been stuck behind Jon Busch, Bill Gaudette, and William Hesmer for the majority of his career, left only to play in U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League games or in case of injury.
Yesterday, the Crew started a Twitter campaign to raise awareness for fans to vote Columbus players onto the All-Star roster. On top of that, the campaign is a competition against the Chicago Fire, who are also trying to rally their fans to vote for their team.
Massive Report Podcast host Jonathan Smith said it best:
Jonathan Smith (@producertbone) June 19, 2012
Voting for the MLS All-Star starting XI ends soon. Do your part.
Be Massive, and #VoteCrew.