Saturday, March 27, 2010

Columbus Crew 2010 MLS Season Preview

AP Photo/Jay Laprete

The Columbus Crew are a veteran squad that has been atop the tables the past few years and are looking to stay there.

The Crew won their second consecutive Supporters' Shield last season— the team with the most points at the end of the regular season— even with a brand new head coach, as Robert Warzycha replaced Sigi Schmid who went to the Seattle Sounders.

This season they return nearly their entire starting 11 from 2009, minus forward Alejandro Moreno, who was selected by the Philadelphia Union in the expansion draft.

Former league MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto will lead the charge. The Argentine is a lethal weapon in the attack as both a finisher and distributor. His contributions are invaluable. In 2009 he led the Crew in goals scored, with 12.

The midfield is young and talented.

Robbie Rogers is a good talent on the flank with good pace. He had his moments last year where he struggled and did not get on the field, but he is an asset and is currently on the bubble for a spot on this summer's World Cup roster.

Eddie Gaven will play on the other side of the midfield and has continually improved each year, also earning a National Team call-up this offseason. He played in all 30 games last season for the Crew, the first time he’s done so since 2006, and scored six goals, his highest total since 2005 when he netted eight.

Emmanuel Ekpo, 23, will play in the center of the field. He led Columbus in 2009 in assists with six. In his third year in MLS he should continue to grow as a player.

The Crew also have a pair of the league's top defenders in center back Chad Marshall and right fullback Frankie Hejduk.

Marshall has won consecutive MLS Defender of the Year awards and will look to continue his dominance.

Hejduk was a member of the 1996 MLS Inaugural Player Draft. After the 1998 World Cup Hejduk spent six seasons overseas before returning to America and signing with the Crew. He has a ton of experience and is still crafty enough to get up-field for clutch goals.

The team will look to third-year player Steven Lenhart to fill in for Moreno. The 23-year-old has scored seven goals in 36 league appearances and has had an impressive pre-season.

This is a squad with talent, championship experience, and enough youth to keep them energized throughout the entire season.

Columbus is in great position to win a third straight Supporters’ Shield, which would be an MLS record, and fourth overall, which would tie D.C. United for most in MLS history.

But it doesn’t end with there for this team. They expect to be contending for the MLS Cup as well, and they are certainly more than capable.

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