The last couple of weeks have not been particularly kind to the Crew or the Dayton Dutch Lions, the USL PRO club with whom Columbus is affiliated. Both teams have struggled to earn points. Both have paid the price in their respective tables.
The Dutch Lions remain without a victory at home in 2014. The most recent matches include a 0-2 loss to the Charleston Battery in Beavercreek on May 4 and a 1-1 draw against LA Galaxy II on May 10 on the newly installed pitch at DOC Stadium in West Carrollton.
The silver lining for Black & Gold supporters is that the individual Columbus players on loan to Dayton performed well against both Charleston and LA.
Let's begin with the guy who has played his last match for either the Crew or the Dutch Lions. Ryan Finley was in the starting lineup as an attacking midfielder against Charleston before being traded from the Crew to Chivas USA. Finley played 77 minutes against the Battery and managed to get off two shots. It's fair to say that he did not live up to expectations while in Dayton, but Finley was starting to come on during his final two matches in the Gem City.
Aaron Schoenfeld has been the starting center forward in Dayton since the second match of the year. The big man played the full 90 against Charleston with two shots. He converted the equalizing penalty kick before the half against LA, then came off after 66 minutes, earning an honorable mention on USL PRO's Team of the Week. Schoenfeld made good use of his size the last two matches, going up in the air to use his head to make connections. He will be really dangerous when he becomes as adept at making those connections with his feet.
Matt Walker has been a welcome addition to the Dutch Lions midfield. He earned starts in each of the last two matches after recovering from an injury that kept him out of the previous couple. Walker played 66 minutes against the Battery, followed by 78 against Galaxy II. He only took one shot over the last two weeks, but his role and skill set are more suited to play making than shot taking.
One of the few players to play every minute of every match for Dayton this season has been Kevan George. Those minutes will prove valuable to the Crew now that the center back has been recalled to Columbus. Defenders Michael Parkhurst, Giancarlo Gonzalez, and Waylon Francis have been summoned to their respective national teams, so there is a good chance that George will see action for the Black & Gold. I thought George turned in a fantastic performance against LA, always in the right place at the right time. Let's hope those types of performances continue at the MLS level.
In anticipation of the national team call-ups (and to fill a hole in the back line due to suspension), Ben Sweat spent the last two matches with the Dutch Lions. The 2014 MLS SuperDraft first-round selection played all 180 minutes against Charleston and LA. During his time in Dayton, Sweat showed that he can play defense and is not afraid to get involved in the attack, though he is definitely better at the former than the latter.
Other News and Notes
Goalkeeper Brad Stuver continues train with the Dutch Lions and dress for matches. It's going to be tough for him to get much playing time in Dayton, though, with Matt Williams putting up one stellar performance after another. He did record a shutout against Schwaben AC in the U.S. Open Cup tie this evening as the Dutch Lions won 2-0. Word from inside the Dutch Lions organization is that he helps the club regardless of how much match time he gets because he has such a great personality.
Ross Friedman has been out for several matches with a high ankle sprain that was initially misdiagnosed by several medical professionals. The back has returned to training and played for the Dutch Lions in the US Open Cup against Schwaben AC.
As always, please check out Reckless Challenge for in-depth coverage of the Dayton Dutch Lions and USL PRO.