Crew Cuts: Flyin' again

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Outside the Columbus Crew's Obetz training facility Tuesday afternoon, two dead birds were sprawled on the sidewalk outside the front door.

"I think they flew into the glass," Crew spokesman Dave Stephany speculated.

Adam Moffat's 2008 campaign was a lot like that. The Scottish central midfielder started the season soaring, and just as momentum was starting to build up, a collision left him grounded for good.

Moffat was a catalyst for the Crew early last year, setting the tone for a championship season with an MVP performance in a 2-0 season-opening win over Toronto. Coaches praised him as a "box-to-box" player who made offensive and defensive impact, helping the Crew to win six of its first seven matches.

Then after sitting out for three weeks with a right knee injury, Moffat suffered a torn left ACL. He was sidelined for the rest of the year, relegated to a moral-support role as his teammates cruised to the MLS Cup.

"It was hard to watch," Moffat admitted. "I didn't want to watch any soccer, to be truthful."

Recovery went smoothly at first, but by March, it became clear Moffat wouldn't be ready for opening day. Team doctors wouldn't let Moffat take the pitch until his left leg was at least 90 percent as strong as his right, but he was anxious to get in the game and help Columbus (0-2-3) improve on its shaky start.

After weeks of jogging and single-legged squats, Moffat made his first appearance in nearly a year on April 11, logging 67 minutes in the Crew's 1-1 draw with Colorado. His presence was a marked change from the flashy, technical Emmanuel Ekpo, who moved out wide for the Colorado game after manning the middle with mixed results for the first four matches.

Brian Carroll has been a constant in the Crew's central midfield since last season, partnering with a varied cast of central mids including Ekpo, Brad Evans and Duncan Oughton while Moffat was hurt. Carroll said Moffat's scrappy style and tenacious, box-to-box play is a good fit for MLS, noting that Moffat didn't miss a step in his first game back.

"I think all it is for him is just getting game-fit," Carroll said. "You can do all the fitness that you want, and it certainly helps you out in the games, but games produce greater fitness and greater sharpness."

Moffat is more than happy to log those game minutes. It suits him better than playing guitar, a hobby he adopted then discarded during his recovery. Moffat hasn't completely discarded his musical ambitions, though. He recently acquired a harmonica.

"I'm practicing that now. We'll see how long that lasts," Moffat said. "We'll see if I can maybe hold a concert at Crew Stadium."

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Columbus Crew vs. Chicago Fire

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, April 25

Where: Crew Stadium, North Side