Let’s face it, Columbus Crew SC had a bad season last in 2016.
The Black & Gold finished with 36 points, third-worst in the league, and missed the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time under head coach Gregg Berhalter.
Does that have a direct impact on this year? One major outlet appears to think so.
Injuries to to Designated Player Federico Higuain and center-back Gaston Sauro last season, along with the departure of Kei Kamara who led the team in goals the year prior, played a part in the disappointing season, but no one in the organization was happy with the finish.
This offseason, Berhalter went out and added 10 players to revamp the roster and get back to the postseason success the club has come to expect under his watch.
Despite the changes, ESPN doesn’t have high hopes for Columbus with the season beginning this weekend.
ESPNFC released its preseason MLS Power Rankings on Monday and Crew SC finds itself ranked 16 of 22 teams. This is with the asterisk of expansion clubs Atlanta United and Minnesota United needing to prove it before ESPN will rank either side.
Here is what the Worldwide Leader — who apparently doesn’t buy into the shortened nickname of Crew SC — had to say about the Black & Gold:
A revamp of the defense and a reinforced midfield aim to fix what ailed Columbus in 2016. Spending DP money on center back Jonathan Mensah sends a message that the Crew won't be the goal-leaking sieves they were last year.
The defending champions Seattle Sounders, who happened to get hot at the end of the year after spending much of the season near the bottom of the Western Conference and won the title without a shot on goal, sit atop the list followed by Supporter’s Shield winners FC Dallas. Aside from MLS Cup finalists Toronto FC, who are third, the list is more or less a rehashing of last year’s MLS final standings.
If you’ve followed MLS for more than a year or two, you know that the league rarely follows form of the previous standings.
The good news for Crew SC fans, if you buy into these power rankings, is that the team’s season-opening opponent, the Chicago Fire, sit just above the unrankable expansion sides at 20 despite also making quite a few changes in the offseason.