The Columbus Crew's Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter has given a strong vote of confidence to the current attacking corps with the recent re-signings of Dominic Oduro and Jairo Arrieta. Every Crew Forward that played a minute in 2013 is returning; the only one cut was non-used homegrown Aaron Horton. When combined with the returning Midfielders, 80% of the 2013 Crew's attacking minutes will be back in 2014. In a league in which many teams have similar levels of talent on the field, continuity can be the difference between a team that struggles to make the playoffs and one that secures their position in September.
Assuming that out-of-contract Defenders Danny O'Rourke and Gláuber do not re-sign, here's the breakdown of returning offensive production by position. For this analysis, Viana was considered a Defender, Speas was considered a Midfielder and Finlay and Oduro were considered Forwards.
Crew Offensive Production Returning in 2014, by Position:
|Midfielders + Forwards||80%||97%||83%||94%|
|Defenders + Midfielders + Forwards||75%||93%||84%||89%|
Success for an MLS club is achieved at 50. Since 2011, when the league went to a 34-game schedule, 14 clubs have scored 50 goals or more in a season; 13 reached the playoffs. In the same time frame, 25 clubs have had 50-point or higher seasons; 23 of those 25 teams made the playoffs. If you bust out the Venn diagram, you'd see all 11 clubs that both scored 50 goals and earned 50 points were playoff teams.
The Crew have not scored 50 goals since the 2008 Supporters Shield and MLS Cup Championship season. If they can manage to do so again in 2014, chances are good that many other pre-season goals will follow.