Crew: Five keys to the season
Anybody paying attention has noticed that the Columbus Crew has been slipping lately in tangible ways - they're 0-3-2 in their past five MLS contests and winless in their last seven matches overall - and intangible. Exhausted from their grueling schedule, they simply seem to lack hustle when it counts.
But all hope is not lost. Just as teams can peak early, it's possible for them to hit rock bottom soon enough to right the ship before drifting off into oblivion. And with a little help from New York, Columbus could still reclaim first place and home-field advantage in the East.
That's probably going to require, you know, winning again. Here are five suggestions for turning things around.
1. Get some rest.
Obviously the Crew has been trying its hardest to recharge after completing four games in 10 days. But perhaps coach Robert Warzycha should impose a curfew or mandate eight hours of sleep for these players. A day at the spa? Whatever it takes to get these guys feeling refreshed.
2. Play Guillermo Barros Schelotto in central midfield.
The Crew needs an offensive injection, and while Warzycha fears Schelotto doesn't have the defensive tenacity to move from forward to midfield, the prospect of him feeding a pair of front-runners is too appealing not to at least try before the playoffs roll around.
3. Play Robbie Rogers at left back.
A popular fan theory is that Rogers has improved so much on defense and stalled out so much on offense that he might be better suited to lining up at left back than left midfield. And the Crew has more than enough flankers to compensate. Speaking of which
4. Play Leandre Griffit anywhere.
Again, Warzycha has kept newcomer Griffit out of the lineup because he thinks the Frenchman doesn't play enough defense. That's not a good enough reason to bench a guy who has created offensive spark in what limited time he's played.
5. Remember the good old days.
Most of this lineup was around for the Crew's glorious 2008 and 2009 campaigns. They ought to spend time with the old highlights and reflect on the mojo that carried Columbus to so much success. They must convince themselves that, yes, they still have it in them. And maybe, just maybe, they do.
Columbus Crew at Toronto FC
4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16