Columbus, OH – Columbus, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - There is no doubt that the high point in the history of the Columbus Crew was the team's 2008 campaign, which saw Sigi Schmid's side capture the Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup.
- Created on Monday, 03 March 2014 17:20
But the subsequent five years have seen the club embark on a steady decline with Schmid departing for Seattle after the 2008 campaign, leaving Robert Warzycha at the helm.
Columbus reached the postseason in Warzycha's first three years, but a two- year playoff drought followed that saw Warzycha fail to make it through last season, leaving Brian Bliss to finish out the final eight games on an interim basis.
Clearly a new voice was needed in the Crew dressing room, and the man who will take the reigns this season is Gregg Berhalter.
The former United States international became the first American to manage a club in Europe when he took over Swedish side Hammarby in December 2011.
And after being hired by the Crew this past November, Berhalter has wasted little time in making his mark.
The Columbus back line will have a different look this season with Berhalter letting go of defenders Glauber, Chad Marshall and Danny O'Rourke and shedding some salary in the process.
To replace that trio, Berhalter has brought in U.S. national team defender Michael Parkhurst as well as Costa Rican defenders Giancarlo Gonzalez and Waylon Francis.
In making those moves Berhalter acknowledged that his new defenders "fit nicely" into the club's financial structure, although they will be giving up some height in the back with Gonzalez expected to be the only regular starter who stands over 6 feet tall.
The other area that Berhalter must address is the leadership void left by the departures of Marshall, O'Rourke, Eddie Gaven and Andy Gruenebaum, who were the last remaining members of the 2008 championship team.
Berhalter is hopeful that one player who can step up to fill that void is forward Dominic Oduro, who is in just his second season with the Crew but who has eight years of MLS experience under his belt.
"He's a veteran, he's a high-performing guy and I think he's important to the squad," Berhalter said of Oduro. "That's something where we would like him to take that role on in terms of being one of the veteran leaders in the team. He's been around MLS for how many years? A long time. He has a good track record in this league. I think that's a natural fit for him."
In addition to increased leadership responsibilities, Oduro will once again be counted on to lead the Crew's offensive unit, which he did last season with 13 goals.
Federico Higuain will be the focal point of the offense as the club will rely heavily on his creative skill to generate goals.
The Argentine tallied 11 goals last year to go with nine assists, and in addition to Oduro, he will be expected to play a role in the success of Jairo Arrieta. The 30-year-old netted three goals with four assists in his first full season with the Crew last year and he will be expected to build on that output.
Columbus will also be breaking in a new goalkeeper as Steve Clark is likely to take over the first-choice duties between the posts with the departure of Gruenebaum, who started 21 league games last season.
Clark has spent the past four seasons in Norway with Honefoss before he returned to the United States in December to join the Crew, and he will compete with Matt Lampson for the number one job.
ACQUISITIONS: Daniel Paladini (M), Michael Parkhurst (D), Hector Jimenez (M), Giancarlo Gonzalez (D), Waylon Francis (D), Steve Clark (GK).
LOSSES: Eddie Gaven (M), Matias Sanchez (M), Glauber (D), Danny O'Rourke (D/M), Konrad Warzycha (M), Chad Marshall (D), Andy Gruenebaum (GK).
OUTLOOK: If everything falls the right way for the Crew this is a team that should contend for a playoff spot in the East. But there are a number of things that must happen for Berhalter's first season to be a success. The back line must jell quickly with a trio of new faces including Parkhurst, Gonzalez and Francis, who will be playing in front of either Clark or Lampson in goal. Another strong campaign from Oduro is needed, while Columbus will hope that Arrieta is able to increase his production and provide another viable option in attack. The East figures to be a very balanced conference this year, and the Crew will need things to come together quickly or risk falling behind.
- A new sandwhich shop opens its doors in Brewer!
- Joe Baldacci drops out of 2nd District race
- Maine Couple told to stop selling diet pills
- Habitat for Humanity is looking for some help from the community to give a family a home
- Penobscot Theatre February vacation camp includes new themed activities
- Police are looking for a man they say fled from a car crash
- Beware tax scams, IRS will not contact you by phone or email
- Report shows tax dollars being misused
- The Bangor Humane Society is inviting kids in the area to come make crafts
- Warmer weather is affecting events in Greenville
- Opening day of National Toboggan Races cancelled
- More limitations being placed on scallop fishermen
- The Coast Guard aided a disabled 65 foot fishing boat
- Suspicious fire in Oakland under investigation
- FBI says Clinton email investigation remains 'ongoing'
- Wife of ISIS leader charged in US in death of American hostage Kayla Mueller
- Hugh Jackman reveals fourth battle with skin cancer on Instagram, shares post-op photo
- Senate report: Illegal immigrants benefited from up to $750M in ObamaCare subsidies
- Pentagon confirms North Korea launched satellite into orbit
- Casey Anthony launches her own photography business
- Pro-choice group cries foul over Doritos commercial 'Ultrasound'
- Bus bound for casino crashes on I-95 in Connecticut, dozens reported hurt
- Charter bus crashes on I-95 in Connecticut
- Charter bus crashes on I-95 in Connecticut, dozens reported hurt
- Porn actress drops lawsuit against Josh Duggar
- David Bowie, Beyonce both told Coldplay they hated their songs
- Why no one wanted 'The Notebook' role
- NFL star eyed in assault of off-duty cops in Philadelphia
- Cruise ship tossed in hurricane-force storm turning around, officials say
- How a cruise ship navigates a storm
- NASA bans the word 'Jesus'
- Governors roar into NH primary, seek to disrupt Rubio's 'Marcomentum'
- Former ISIS sex slaves now army of ‘Sun Ladies’ ready to defeat terror group
- Runner dies after starting 5-mile Krispy Kreme Challenge
- At least 2 killed in apartment fight involving bats, sticks
- New England braces for up to 18 inches of snow as blizzard approaches
- Coldplay's latest video draws flak for portrayal of India
- Woman who drank heavily for decades develops fatty humps
- Beyonce's Super Bowl Show Bringing Both Praise & Criticism
- Maroon 5 Thanks Taraji P. Henson For Mistaken Super Bowl Shout-Out
- Maroon 5 'Thanks' Taraji P. Henson After Mistaken Super Bowl Shout-Out
- Super Bowl Draws 111.9 Million Viewers, Down From Last Year
- 'The Good Wife' Bosses Talk Ending The Show, Spinoff Potential
- Gwyneth Paltrow Testifies In Stalking Trial, Says Man's Letters Were Upsetting
- Conan O'Brien Heading To Harvard To Give Talk
- 'Monsters, Inc.' & 'Big Hero 6' Screenwriter Daniel Gerson Dies At 49
- Flavor Flav Pleads No Contest To DUI Charge In Las Vegas
- Porn Actress Drops $500K Lawsuit Against Josh Duggar
- 'The Good Wife': CBS Announces Final Nine Episodes
- Beyonce Announces 2016 Tour
- Flavor Flav Due To Face Las Vegas Judge On Misdemeanor Case
- Here Come The Super Bowl 50 Ads
- 'Kung Fu Panda 3' Tops Weekend Box Office
- Alejandro Inarritu Wins AT DGA Awards For 'The Revenant'
- Beyonce Drops Surprise Single Ahead Of Super Bowl Halftime Performance With Coldplay
- Benedict Cumberbatch, Emma Watson Named Visiting Fellows At Oxford College
- James Corden Recreates Classic Super Bowl Ad With Cindy Crawford For 'Late Late Show'
- Cindy Crawford & James Corden Recreate Her Classic Super Bowl Ad For 'The Late Late Show'
- Michael B. Jordan Wins Big At NAACP Image Awards
- Iggy Azalea Dishes On Her Sophomore Album
- Bruno Mars Finally Confirms Super Bowl Performance
- Adele Might Not Like It, But Donald Trump Can Use Her Music
- Tom Brady boasts that he is not one of the best QBs ever
- Peyton Manning's mom explains why it's time for her son to retire
- Report: Off-duty cops hospitalized after alleged altercation involving LeSean McCoy
- Advanced stats will probably love Michigan in 2016
- Audi tearjerker, 'Puppymonkeybaby' among Super Bowl winners
- Offbeat humor and upbeat messages dominate Super Bowl ads
- Breaking news: NASCAR to announce new 'charter' system for teams
- 2nd-seeded Cilic and Dodig advance to 2nd round in Rotterdam
- Jordan Spieth honors Peyton Manning with classic forehead joke after Super Bowl win
- Mets give cap-tip to fellow runner-up Panthers after Super Bowl loss
- Cam Newton's authenticity is highly questionable
- 2016 New York Mets Preview & Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep
- All-Star Bobblehead Series among Marlins promotions in 2016
- Broncos offseason to-do list, starting with moving on from Manning
- Cam Newton's image took the biggest hit of all during the Super Bowl
- Dodgers' Pederson had a great view of Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show
- Paul George says he'll try to score 82 points in final game vs. Kobe
- From behind the lens at Super Bowl 50, Durant captures the other side
- DeMarcus Ware's son stole Deion Sanders' microphone after the Super Bowl
- Comfort wins: Stroman, Blue Jays watch Super Bowl 50 in onesies
- Parker to play with France despite wife's pregnancy
- Ronaldo open to leaving Real Madrid when contract expires
- Tyronn Lue on recent criticism: 'Look, they ridiculed Jesus Christ'
- Bryce Harper shared a laugh with Stephen Curry at Super Bowl 50