The 2020 Major League Soccer season is quickly approaching and Columbus Crew SC will kick off its 25th campaign on Sunday, March 1 against New York City FC. As is the case in most offseasons, especially after an unsuccessful year like 2019 was for the Crew, there have been changes made for the Black & Gold.
As part of our preseason preview, Massive Report is going position by position, to give readers a breakdown of what to expect in the coming year. We begin in the back with the goalkeepers.
After the transfer of Zack Steffen to Manchester City last summer, the Crew brought in Eloy Room as his replacement. The Dutch native joined the Black & Gold on July 5, 2019. Since then, he has been the mainstay for Columbus, starting and playing all 12 games he featured and racking up 1,080 minutes while making 33 saves in 2019. His lone shutout came against the Philadelphia Union, which was the last match of the season at MAPFRE Stadium. While his 14 goals allowed wasn’t a great number, Room played behind a number of different backlines, making it difficult for a struggling Columbus defense to find any rhythm.
Room’s best performance came against FC Cincinnati where he held the Ohio rivals to no goals until late in the match on Aug. 25. The goal, which was scored by former Crew midfielder Kekuta Manneh, saw the Black & Gold give up what could have been his first clean sheet, instead holding on for a 3-1 win over in the Hell Is Real rivalry.
This year, Room looks to make the most out of being the starter in his first full season with the Crew, after stepping into a role that was left with big shoes to fill. The pressure will be on to have a better defensive year but Room is up for the test and hopes to lift Columbus back into the MLS Cup playoffs.
Kempin enters his third year with the Crew after he was acquired early in December of 2018. Since then, he has been the backup netminders to Zack Steffen and Eloy Room.
Last year, Kempin saw the field three times, allowing four goals and finishing the season with a 0-3-0 record. His 2019 debut came against Minnesota United, where the Loons defeated Crew SC 1-0.
While on loan with USL Championship side Hartford Athletic, Kempin made two appearances (both starts) on April 13 and 17. He later returned to Columbus for a home match against Sporting Kansas City and made two more appearances for the Black & Gold in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. In that tournament, he grabbed a clean sheet against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and started against Atlanta United in the second meeting at MAPFRE in a torrential downpour.
Kempin was the recipient of the 2019 Kirk Urso Award.
Welcome home, Matt Lampson.
Reacquired this offseason, Lampson spent the 2019 seeason in an LA Galaxy uniform. While there, Lampson appeared just one time for the Galaxy, allowing four goals and making three saves during his time.
Lampson played for Columbus for four years after signing a Homegrown contract, starting in 2012 and ending in 2015. During his time with the Crew, Lampson made 16 appearances, with 14 of those being starts, with five shutouts and 50 saves.
In 2020, Lampson aims for a fresh start back in his hometown and will contend to be the backup to Room.
Tarbell got his start in MLS as a first-round pick by the San Jose Earthquakes in 2016.
His most prominent year with the Quakes came in 2018 where he played 29 games (all starts) and managed to rack up 2,610 minutes while making 87 saves and allowing 60 goals.
Tarbell was acquired by the Crew on Feb. 19, via a trade. Tarbell did not play in MLS action last year, so this could easily give him a fresh start and help boost his confidence to compete for a starting spot with the Black & Gold, if not another team in the league.