Picture Credits: Columbus Crew Twitter (@ColumbusCrew)
Last season was not the kindest to the Crew. It did not help that Columbus was ravaged by injuries, including promising young midfielder Aidan Morris, midfielder Artur, and Kevin Molino that would be out for the season. Injuries to Gyasi Zardes, Josh Williams, former Crew fullback Milton Valenzuela, and Eloy Room, among others, throughout the season really messed with the dynamic of the team, and the consistency that many teams like to have.
Columbus was in the playoff hunt until the very last day, as they would end up missing out on the playoffs by one point. An up and down season ended in disappointment as the Crew were unable to defend their 2020 MLS Cup Championship.
DEF Milton Valenzuela- FC Lugano
FWD Bradley Wright-Phillips
MID Sebastian Berhalter- Vancouver Whitecaps
DEF Vito Wormgoor- IK Start
DEF Harrison Awful- Charlotte FC
ATT Yaw Yeboah- $2.0M from Wisla Krakow
DEF Milos Degenek- Free Transfer from Red Star
DEF Will Sands- Superdraft from Georgetown
Yaw Yeboah is the pacey, silky winger that the Crew lacked last season. At just 24 years of age, his raw ability could prove to be the difference for Columbus as they look to return to the playoffs.
Milos Degenek brings European experience to Columbus as he prepares for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this year.
How The Squad Looks
I would be kidding you if I said that I thought Columbus was going to win MLS Cup this year, though I think they have a chance. Is it likely; probably not. Here is why I say they have a chance. Columbus is two years removed from winning MLS Cup, with most of that roster returning to Lower.com Field. They are also as healthy as they have been in a long time. The return of dynamic midfielders Artur and Aidan Morris, the Crew are as deep as ever in the middle of the park.
In the defense, the Crew added European experience at center back with the signing of Australian Miloš Degenek. But, where there is a positive, there must also be a negative. In the offseason, Columbus lost perhaps one of its top defenders in left-back Milton Valenzuela. Without much cover in the left back position, even with the signing of Will Sands, brother of former NYCFC player James Sands, the Crew are forced to play Pedro Santos, a left midfielder by trade, in the defense. They still have star Lucas Zelerayan, and perhaps one of the best midfielders in the MLS in Darlington Nagbe, so you can never count this team out.
The attack is where it can either go completely right, or completely wrong. With the emergence of Miguel Berry after he was recalled from the San Diego Loyal last season, the Crew seem to have two very good goalscorer in Berry and Gyasi Zardes.
I expect this season to be much more friendly to the Crew compared to last season. I think it will be a bounce back year for both Caleb Porter and the Crew. With that being said, I think the Crew will finish 5th in the Eastern Conference, and on their way to the Conference Semi-Finals, where they will eventually run out of gas. Columbus will be looking to prove that their 2020 MLS Cup run was not a fluke, and I think this season will prove to be that.