Well it is that time again for me to exchange some questions with someone who has a Crew perspective on things, and nobody has more of a Columbus Crew perspective than Matt Bernhardt of examiner.com, so these are the questions that I put to him:
1) The Crew have become the kings of the draws lately with 6 on the season as opposed to just 3 wins, the team was doing well in April, but what has happened since then?
A) A little bit of a lot of things have gone wrong for the Crew, rather than any one flaw. The attack hasn't had the sort of chemistry that many people, including myself, expected. The forward pairing that I thought would be first choice - Mendoza and Renteria - has only been on the field for 122 minutes. The team has also recently changed from a one-forward system - essentially using the same strategy from last year - to one with two forwards, and I don't know that the midfield has sorted itself out yet with the changes that implies.
check out the rest of the exchange after the jump:
2) Columbus is one of a few teams that has more than 25% of their goals coming from the PK spot (4 of 12), this is a strange trend and seems to reinforce the struggles the Crew are having scoring goals on a regular basis. Is there a cause for this and what will they do differently on Wednesday to try to score goals against a very good defense?
A) I expect the two-forward system to get another run out, but who those players are is in doubt. It had been Mendoza and Heinemann, but Tommy is out for a few weeks with an injury suffered in New York. Mendoza had two atrocious misses in New York, so many fans are hoping that he sits as well. I'm not sure that I'm with them - his swings in performance are heartburn-inducing, but I think he averages out to be pretty good (four goals in 676 minutes). I think you may end up seeing Mendoza and Cunningham as forwards, with perhaps Justin Meram reprising his left wing role if Dilly Duka can't play (Duka also came off injured in New York).
3) We saw a huge turnover of the Crew roster in the offseason, a lot of people wondered how all the new players and players getting a lot more minutes would respond. You are 12 matches into the season, and wouldn't be in the playoffs if they started today, what changes do you see the team making to get back into the playoff hunt?
A) Well, I touched on one shift they've already made - from one forward to two forwards. I think that will eventually bear fruit; there is no player like Schelotto on the roster, and it was his personal quality that made the tweener position so dangerous. The team may ultimately need to bring a new signing in, or hope for the emergence of a player like Bernardo Anor or Santiago Prim, if they want to compete for hardware this year.
4- Bonus Question) If you could take one player from the RSL roster and put him on the Crew who would it be, and why?
It would be hard not to pick Javier Morales given the Crew's offensive needs.
So there you have the question I put to Matt and his answers, it is clear that they changes to their roster from last year to this year, have had a huge impact on how the Crew perform on the pitch. I think they have some players who can make a difference, but it is clear that with so many new faces in new places (both this year, and sometimes match to match) it will take time for them to figure it out but this could be a team that is fighting for a playoff spot by the end of the year.
OFF MY SOAPBOX