The Columbus Crew's last preseason game against D.C. United in the Carolina Challenge Cup was canceled due to severe weather conditions. The joke making the rounds on Facebook fan pages claim that "Crew Supporters Union
As I look at our "Fan Confidence Poll" located on the left, I realize that as much as the Crew Front Office have made some very favorable moves this off season, there still seems to be a heavy sense of skepticism among Crew fandom of what the result of those moves will be.
More after the jump.
Excitement was abound when the team signed Chilean midfielder Milovan Mirosevic. Olman Vargas was signed soon there after with less fanfare, but with excitement non the less. The 2012 MLS Super Draft came and went and the Crew picked up some names that we haven't heard of, yet analysts projected some very good impact players were selected. Two more home grown players, Matt Lampson and Ben Speas, get signed by the team coming off of very solid NCAA seasons with their respective colleges and great careers in various levels of the Crew Soccer Academy.
So, why is the confidence so low?
I believe that there are plenty of reason for said low confidence by the fans. Here is a list of what I think Crew fans fear as we stare at a 2012 season that is kicking off in the same place where the 2011 season ended.
In no particular order:
- Can coach Warzycha actually lead this team to winning anything?
- Will Mirosevic and Varags gel with the team quick enough to be effective once the season starts?
- Injuries/recoveries of Danny O'Rourk, Rich Balchan, Ben Speas?
- Will Emilio Renetria manage to stay healthy for an entire season?
- Where are the goals going to come from after the team released Andreas Mendoza?
- Is Shawn Francis ready to reclaim his spot and be effective at left back?
- How will Dilly Duka adapt to playing full time all the time replacing Robbie Rogers?
- Can coach Warzycha actually lead this team to winning anything? (I know, I repeated that one twice)
- How will the team fill the void/adapt to the loss of Emanuel Ekpo and Robbie Rogers?
- Is there a clause in the kit sponsorship with Barbasol that provides protection for Eddie Gaven's beard?
- Can coach Warzycha come up with the ideal formation to utilize the players that we have?
I'm sure there are more questions than the ones listed above, but the fact remains that despite all the moves, Crew fans are still skeptical. Could it be that many fans are still jaded by the events of "Black Monday" in the 2011 off season? Could it be that they are looking at off season scores of the team and seeing ZERO wins against MLS competition and even LESS goal scoring. Yes, the team has beaten every college team it has played and the US U-17s, but those teams are college and high school kids and should be drubbed by an MLS team.
There are two things that I look at when assessing how I feel about the 2012 Crew and their fortunes this year.
1) Last year should have been the rock bottom year. Coming off of waving most of your team's talent and going for a core of players surrounded by draft pics and a thumb sucker, this team should have probably not made the playoffs. However, this team showed some sparks of brilliance, held on to first place in the East for a few weeks, then spiraled and barely managed to make it to the playoffs.
2) I believe that they additions that were made in the off season will actually propel this team quite a bit. Off season signings coupled with the 2011 rookies having a year under their
belt and 2012 rookies that look to be providing immediate team impact, make me believe that this could turn out to be a much better season than last year.
I'll throw out some SUPER EARLY predictions, and feel free to tell me what you think.
1) The Columbus Crew will finish first or second in the East
2) The Columbus Crew will make it to the final of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
3) The Columbus Crew will NOT win the MLS Cup, but will lose in the conference championship
Confident? Yeah, probably. Homer? maybe a bit, but I think this team looks really good on paper. If this team has a hot start similar to the 2008 team, the rest of the league may want to watch out.