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Massive predictions: The 2022 Crew season

See how contributors to Massive Report predict the 2022 season will go for the Black & Gold.

DC United v Columbus Crew SC Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

The 2022 Columbus Crew season starts on Saturday. It’s way too early to think about the end of the season, but the staff at Massive Report did just that, putting on their predicting caps to let everyone know how they think the season will end.

This season, writers selected who they believe will be the Crew MVP, Golden Boot winner for most goals on the team, Newcomer of the Year, where the Black & Gold will end the season in the standings and make a bold prediction.

Without further ado, here’s how Massive Report thinks the year will go for the Crew.


Abigail Hintz

Team MVP: Lucas Zelarayán

Golden Boot: Gyasi Zardes

Team Newcomer of the Year: Steven Moreira

Finish in Eastern Conference at the end of the season: 7th

Bold prediction: The Crew will have one of the best backlines in the league. I think this has been a point of contention for so long and the club knows that. The defensive signings in the offseason give me hope that however the season shakes out, the defense will be stronger than it has been in a long time.


Adam Miller

Team MVP: Lucas Zelarayán

Golden Boot: Gyasi Zardes

Team Newcomer of the Year: Miloš Degenek

The Crew desperately needed reinforcements at center back after the departures of Vito Wormgoor and Aboubacar Keita. Degenek looks to be a big upgrade in this position. The Australian international will give the Crew backline a lot of security when partnered with captain Jonathan Mensah. In addition, Degenek will give the Crew a viable option to play through when building out of the back. Degenek is another player who will be pushing for a World Cup roster spot in 2022 with the Australian National team.

Finish in Eastern Conference at the end of the season: 3rd

Bold prediction: The Crew will be above .500 on the road


Brian Moracz

Team MVP: Lucas Zelarayán

Golden Boot: Lucas Zelarayán

Zelarayán scored 13 goals in all competitions in the 2021 campaign, showing that he can score in a myriad of ways. Whether from direct free kicks, shots from distance (Zelarayán led all of MLS with eight goals from outside the 18-yard box in 2021), or in the box after he dribbles by a defender. The man was born to put the ball in the back of the net. It will be difficult to ask Zelarayán to replicate his league-leading five direct free kicks in 2021, but I also don’t see why he can’t do it again.

Team Newcomer of the Year: Yaw Yeboah

Finish in Eastern Conference at the end of the season: 5th

Bold prediction: Alexandru Matan is the starting left winger by season’s end


Caleb Denorme

Team MVP: Lucas Zelarayán

Listen, this pick isn’t bold or surprising, but Zelarayán has to have a big season for the Crew to get back to the playoffs. We learned last season that Zelarayán’s magic alone can’t carry the Crew to a playoff spot, but he sure came close to doing it. We all saw how special he was in that first MLS Cup-winning season, but injuries to other players got in the way of making a run last year. I think Zelarayán will bounce back in a huge way, and maybe even squeak into the MLS MVP conversation by the end of the season if things go to plan.

Golden Boot: Gyasi Zardes

Team Newcomer of the Year: Yaw Yeboah

Finish in Eastern Conference at the end of the season: 3rd

Bold prediction: The Crew’s defense will be top five in the league this season


Collin Johnson

Team MVP: Lucas Zelarayán

Golden Boot: Gyasi Zardes

Team Newcomer of the Year: Yaw Yeboah

Finish in Eastern Conference at the end of the season: 3rd

Bold prediction: Luis Diaz hits 10 combined goals and assists.

Diaz has shown flashes, notably in the 2020 MLS Cup Final, but has struggled to put together a consistent season. With two creative attackers to his left (Zelarayán and Yeboah), Diaz will have the opportunity to use his pace to get in behind defenses and either score goals or find an open runner.


Devin Weisberth

Team MVP: Darlington Nagbe

Golden Boot: Miguel Berry

Team Newcomer of the Year: Yaw Yeboah

Finish in Eastern Conference at the end of the season: 4th

Bold prediction: The Crew will be 2022 MLS Cup champions

Listen, this may be far-fetched, but the Black & Gold are only two years removed from an MLS Cup title. The biggest issue the Crew had last season was injuries, and with Columbus almost back to full health, can the team regain that form? If they can stay pretty healthy for the majority of the season, I do not see why the Black & Gold cannot finish at the top again.


Doug Hildreth

Team MVP: Lucas Zelarayán

Golden Boot: Gyasi Zardes

Team Newcomer of the Year: Yaw Yeboah

Finish in Eastern Conference at the end of the season: 5th

Bold prediction: While Zardes will lead the Crew in goals, Berry will solidify his spot as heir apparent at the No. 9 position, even causing many to push for his replacement of Zardes. This will be a big year for Berry.


Drew McDaniel

Team MVP: Lucas Zelarayán

Golden Boot: Gyasi Zardes

Team Newcomer of the Year: Miloš Degenek

Finish in Eastern Conference at the end of the season: 4th

I believe this team wants to prove that last season was bad luck. The players will be motivated and will not drop points in winning positions like last year. Head coach Caleb Porter has said himself that this will not be a high-scoring team, which limits the ceiling. Columbus will not miss the playoffs and will host at least one game at home.

Bold prediction: Alexandru Matan wins the starting left winger position


Grant Miller

Team MVP: Lucas Zelarayán

Golden Boot: Gyasi Zardes

Team Newcomer of the Year: Miloš Degenek

Finish in Eastern Conference at the end of the season: 4th

Bold prediction: Derrick Etienne Jr. leads all wingers in combined goals and assists

Perhaps it was just seeing him hit the griddy during the Carolina Challenge Cup, but I can’t help but notice a little more edge in Etienne’s play during the preseason. Competition breeds success and improvement, and there will be plenty of competition in the winger group this year. Etienne has all the tools and talent to take this offense to the moon. We just might see it all come together this year.


Kyle Jackson

Team MVP: Lucas Zelarayán

Golden Boot: Gyasi Zardes

Team Newcomer of the Year: Yaw Yeboah

Finish in Eastern Conference at the end of the season: 3rd & MLS Cup champions

Bold prediction: Aidan Morris will leave Columbus for Europe in the summer

I really hope I’m wrong on this but with the way the European market has been snatching up young American talent left and right, don’t be surprised if the likes of Manchester City come calling back with a pile of cash for Aidan Morris.


Nathan Townsend

Team MVP: Darlington Nagbe

Golden Boot: Gyasi Zardes

Team Newcomer of the Year: Yaw Yeboah

Finish in Eastern Conference at the end of the season: 4th

Bold prediction: The Crew will allow the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference

In a league without many certainties, there are three things I think Crew fans can count on this upcoming season. First, the Crew will be a playoff team. Head coach Caleb Porter has excelled during bounce-back years and this team will want to put an embarrassing last season behind them. Second, Gyasi Zardes will be better this year. With the World Cup on the horizon and injuries (hopefully) in the rearview mirror, Zardes will be looking to make sure he is on form and scoring goals for the Black & Gold. Finally, Crew fans can expect better defensive performances. With the M&M pairing of Jonathan Mensah and Miloš Degenek, and Nashville being moved to the Western Conference, should be the top defensive teams in the Eastern Conference.


Patrick Murphy

Team MVP: Artur

Golden Boot: Gyasi Zardes

Team Newcomer of the Year: Not on the roster yet

Finish in Eastern Conference at the end of the season: 3rd

Bold Prediction: Alexandru Matan not only gets his first MLS goal/assist, but leads the wingers in that category. I like what I saw from Matan in his first season in MLS and thought he was unlucky to not get on the stat sheet. While he remained unlucky in preseason with an offside call, I think his ability will overcome and he figures things out in a more comfortable second season with the Black & Gold.

Theodore Sovinski

Team MVP: Lucas Zelarayán

Golden Boot: Gyasi Zardes

Due to fixture congestion in 2021, MLS scheduled matches during international windows. This caused Zardes, among others, to miss games while away with the USMNT. In 2022, there is no schedule overlap and so I’m comfortable predicting 15-plus goals from the striker for the Crew.

Team Newcomer of the Year: Miloš Degenek

Finish in Eastern Conference at the end of the season: 6th

Bold prediction: The Crew buy down Zardes’ Designated Player contract with TAM and go shopping this summer for an elite DP winger. This absolutely will not happen, but that’s what makes it oh so bold.


Thomas Costello

Team MVP: Jonathan Mensah

Golden Boot: Gyasi Zardes

Team Newcomer of the Year: Miloš Degenek

Finish in Eastern Conference at the end of the season: 2nd and lose after the first-round bye curse

Bold prediction: Wingers score 10 goals from the run of play in 2022

In 2021, the Crew’s wingers had a tough season with only four goals from the run of play. There was a whole pre-vaccination pandemic as an excuse for 2020, and stellar defense, that hid the lack of offense. Players sound motivated this season, after the letdown of 2021 where the 2020 MLS Cup dhampions didn’t make the playoffs. Fullbacks Steven Moreira and Pedro Santos will make a huge difference in this department, allowing the wingers to make the necessary moves to finish chances.


Zach Martin

Team MVP: Lucas Zelarayán

Golden Boot: Miguel Berry

Team Newcomer of the Year: Miloš Degenek

Finish in Eastern Conference at the end of the season: 5th

Bold prediction: Eloy Room wins MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Award