The 2022 Columbus Crew season is now nothing but a memory as the Black & Gold failed to make the MLS Cup playoffs for the second year in a row. Columbus now faces an important offseason in order to get back to the postseason next year.
But while the team continues to train and the other MLS sides are still alive work to win a championship, it’s time to reflect back on the season that way. Massive Report will do that by grading each position group this year.
We begin at the back with the goalkeepers.
Starter Eloy Room played all 3,060 minutes in goal for the Crew in 2022. Evan Bush was his backup but only featured in the U.S. Open Cup. Patrick Schulte and Brady Scott rotated for Crew 2, helping the reserve side win the MLS NEXT Pro championship.
Let’s take a look at how this group performed in 2022.
As the year went on, there was a lot of discourse surrounding Room from Black & Gold supporters, with fans a bit split on their opinions the goalkeeper. One thing is for certain, Room is an excellent shot-stopper, who ranked third in the league in save percentage at 76.4 percent. While this stat is affected by the number of shots the Columbus backline allowed, Room still has to make saves on those shots.
Room also leads MLS is Post Shot Expected Goal minus Goals Allowed (PSxG+/-) in 2022. This number calculates the Expected Goals after the shot is taken. A higher number in this stat suggests better luck or an above-average shot-stopping ability. Room’s PSxG+/- is 9.2, suggesting that he saved the Crew from conceding an extra 9.2 goals this year.
There are parts of Room’s game where he struggles, however. This includes coming off his line and his ability to control the 18-yard box. The most glaring example of this was Room’s numbers when dealing with crosses where his stop percentage in 2022 was only 4.3 percent, meaning that a large chunk of the crosses being whipped into the penalty box were unclaimed by the goalkeeper. The Black & Gold allowed 281 crosses into the 18-yard box this season from opponents. When the goalkeeper struggles to help deal with these crosses, there is a significant amount of pressure put on the backline to manage, leading to mistakes and goals.
In his one appearance this year, Bush played 90 minutes against Detroit City FC in a 2-1 Open Cup loss. It was a disappointing performance for Columbus, and that included Bush, who failed to stop either shot on goal by the home side. He was not helped back his backline, which allowed 12 shots overall from an inferior opponent and conceded a penalty kick.
Schulte and Scott split games early on in the campaign before Schulte ultimately claimed the number one spot late in the year. Schulte, who was the No. 12 overall MLS SuperDraft pick for the Crew in 2022, was the MLS NEXT Pro Goalkeeper of the Year. Schulte showed excellent shot-stopping ability and was very good with his feet in possession as he helped Crew 2 play out of the back all season. Scott played well in goal for the Black & Gold reserve side for much of the year as well.
It’s worth noting that both Crew 2 goalkeepers played at a much lower level than MLS and on a team that didn’t have to defend much because of their ability to close games. The jury is still out on how well either could play regularly at the MLS level.
Goalkeeper Grade: B+