It's back. Confidence, swagger, or belief, whatever you call it, it's back. This isn't the Crew team that is under seige with a defense bombarded and a struggling offense of the first half of the season. This is a team that makes it's own luck, with a swashbuckling offense led by midseason aqusitions Jairo Arrieta and Federico Higuain. A remarkable shift for a team that was sinking out of the playoff race at the beginning of the month.
The Crew's offensive woes are well known. In the 21 games befor Higuain's arrival, the team scored 21 goals. They had a dreadful one goal per game average. Since Higuain has joined, Columbus has scored 8 goals in three games. The Crew's goals per game average is already up to a less miserable 1.21, in THREE games. The change has been dramatic.
It hasn't been only Higuain. Eddie Gaven looks as good as ever with someone else to take the spotlight. He's doing all of the things he does, firing in shots on target, running the channels, tracking back defensively, and drawing fouls. With the new DP, all of those things matter just a little bit more. He has two goals off of Higuain passes.
Jairo Arrieta looked like a fine pickup in midseason, but he's quickly developed an understanding with Higuain. He already has five goals since joining in late June including two game winners. He's only recently gotten into game shape. After having no games in May and June before his transfer, he has extremly fresh legs for the stretch run.
Milovan Mirosevic is finally healthy and looking like the game changer the Crew were expecting to get. He turns up in midfield and then spreads the ball around with smart passes. With Danny O'Rourke, he has the lattitude to get forward into dangerous positions and create chances.
The rest of the team is getting healthy. O'Rourke is hopefully turning the corner. Even if he isn't ready, Chris Birchall is waiting in the wings. Rich Balchan is moving up the injured list. He is still listed as Doubtful, but that's the first time he hasn't been listed as Out this year. The cavalry is arriving.
The Crew are still on the outside of the playoffs looking in. However with the team looking this sharp on offense, there is a legitimate feeling that it's only a matter of time before they move past Montreal, D.C. United, Chicago, or even Houston into playoff position. Even if the Crew are trailing, like they did in Houston or against New England, there is a growing feeling that Columbus can come back.
Don't count them out. The swagger is coming back.