RSL Soapbox) The most obvious question, and one you are probably tired of addressing, is now that Kei Kamara is gone, are the Columbus Crew's issues resolved? If not, what remains?
Massive Report) In short, no. In 2014, Crew SC played an attack team game that relied on some contributions from the forwards, but the goals came from all over. Ethan Finlay, Justin Meram, and Federico Higuain all had career years scoring goals and other players contributed as well. With Kei last season, the play changed a bit to be more focused on getting him the ball in dangerous areas.
With no Kei lining up top for the Black & Gold now and another Kamara taking his spot, Columbus is attempting to get back to the 2014 style of play. I won't say that it hasn't worked so far, as the team is still creating chances, but they have to kind of forget what made the team successful last year, while also learning the tendencies of a new forward.
Long story short, it's going to take time for Crew SC's offense to get back on track, or at least get back to where it was two seasons ago. Three weeks removed from the trade, could this be the weekend things click? It's certainly possible.
RSL Soapbox) Columbus seems to have not lived up to its potential after making the MLS Cup Final. How surprising has the start to the season been?
Massive Report) Perplexing is the word I would use at times. Not that the team isn't living up to the potential, but the play hasn't been the exciting football we learned to love last season.
Let me start by saying that I think the run to MLS Cup was a bit of a fluke. Things came together and it very easily could have been Montreal or New York representing the East in the Final (but I guess that's the nature of playoffs). While Crew SC were a good team a year ago, and very good at the end of the season, I don't know if anyone really thought they were the best team in the league.
Because of that, I wasn't that surprised by the slow start, but more how the games were being played. There was a 0-0 draw in Chicago earlier this season that reminded me of the days Greg Andrulis was coaching the team and you just hoped there would be a good attacking chance per half. There was a lot of pressure on this team and it took them a while to figure things out again. Right as that started to happen, the Kamara/Higuain fiasco occurred and here we are in late May trying to retool.
This team has the talent to be one of the best teams in the East, but that doesn't always work out. The players and coaches say they're figuring things out. Saturday will be another big test.
RSL Soapbox) RSL had a rough year last year as you are aware. It affected the fans' confidence and losses started to be unsurprising. Is that level of pessimism penetrating the fan base yet? Or is there still a lot of reason for hope?
Massive Report) I think fans are still hopeful. They've seen what these players can do and believe in Gregg Berhalter's system, at least offensively. With that said, fans are frustrated. The expectations were high -- maybe too high -- and are not being met. Obviously dealing Kamara has bought some time for the offense to figure things out, but the pressure is mounting on this team.
What I've told people is that it's a long season. While you never want to be as far down in the table as Columbus is right now, we haven't even hit June and we've seen way more drastic turnarounds during an MLS campaign than last year's runner up making up an eight point gap.