After three straight losses, Columbus Crew SC is going through a tough moment in the 2018 Major League Soccer season and if there’s one thing you can expect from a struggling team, it’s a change.
Gregg Berhalter is not the kind of head coach who loses the faith on his system or his players after a few bad results, but it’s hard to imagine that the idea of changing Crew SC’s lineup didn’t cross his mind at some point in the last three weeks.
However, as simple as it may sound, making changes in a team is not always easy. Considering Crew SC’s performances in 2018 and the options currently available in the roster, there are no obvious moves to be made.
If one of the starters should be concerned about his place in the starting lineup, it should be Cristian Martinez. The 21-year-old winger has not been bad, only inconsistent, but considering he was the last one to win his place in the team, it’s reasonable to believe he would be the odd man out if a change was coming.
Assuming Martinez was to be benched, there would be some different ways Berhalter could go and here are some of them:
Hansen would be a like-for-like replacement for Martinez. The second-year winger would play the same role of the Panamanian in the team and would allow Crew SC to keep playing Berhalter’s favorite 4-2-3-1 formation.
Like Martinez, Hansen is a fast-paced player, who likes to dribble the ball, find space near the sidelines and feed his teammates inside the penalty box. The Danish player had good moments in his rookie season and, even if it would be a slight one, this change could bring new energy to the team.
Jimenez has arguably been Crew SC’s 12th starter since Berhalter took over. In five years with the team, he has played in 99 matches, performing at least five different roles on the field. His experience would also be an asset for a team that’s going through a difficult moment.
Bringing him to support the midfield line in what has been called the “Christmas Tree” formation would reinforce Crew SC’s ball possession and with his versatility, Jimenez could help Milton Valenzuela both defensively and offensively. The downside of this option would be reducing the team’s ability to stretch the field, with Pedro Santos playing in more of a central position, near Federico Higuain.
The second-year defender was a starter in the first five matches of the season and, despite leaving a good impression, lost his spot when Josh Williams was fit again. In this formation, both of them and Jonathan Mensah would all play together, with the Crew returning to the 3-5-2 formation it used a few times in 2017.
This system would probably improve the team’s passing out of the back and would also have more players in position to clear eventual distribution mistakes. With no wingers being used, Harrison Afful and Valenzuela, now in the role of wing backs, would have a huge importance in the team’s offense.
Which of these options do you like better? Would you suggest anything differently? Let us know in the comments box below!