Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Crew Crest and Puzzle

By: Vidda "JibJab" Grubin

The above is my humble attempt at creating a new crest for The Columbus Crew. Let me know what you think. Keep in mind, there is a reason I write instead of draw. Nuff said.

The puzzle that is the 2014 Columbus Crew is beginning to take shape. Our new owner, Anthony Precourt, and coach, Gregg Berhalter, most certainly deserved the benefit of time and patience from the Crew faithful. Only a few months ago the Hunt family still owned our team and stadium. Not long after Mr. Precourt took control of the Black and Gold there was a long overdue coaching change. Finally, a permanent coach was appointed in the person of Gregg Berhalter.

The whirlwind honeymoon between city, owner and coach is over. The pints of beer shared with a California business man, ballsy enough to snatch up a Midwestern professional soccer team, are nothing but fond memories now. Putting together a jumbled, partially complete, roster, coaching staff and front office, while simultaneously slogging through the equatorial jungle that is Major League Soccer’s bizarre, ever changing rules, requires imagination, creativity and possibly some machetes.

Glimmers of civilization and progress can be seen through the dense allocation and salary cap rules, as well as the thick undergrowth which hides our sporting director’s philosophy of the game.

The trade of Chad Marshall and the acquisition of Michael Parkhurst signal a subtle, yet significant change in philosophy. Parkhurst is a more nimble defender than Marshall, able to link with his midfield in a more dynamic fashion than Marshall and capable of stepping up or wide to defend and attack. Chad Marshall will be missed in Columbus; he is one of the Crew’s best ever. But, if Gregg Berhalter can craft a defensive mindset around quick, smart, agile players who possess the ability to end opponent’s attacks before they become dangerous as well as the ability to flow seamlessly into attack, our Columbus Crew of 2014 should be well on their way to becoming an attractive side.

The re-signing of Dominic Oduro was incredibly important. Oduro’s versatility, his skill as an attacking player and his capacity to unbalance a defense with his speed cannot be over-emphasized.

The signing of Hector Jimenez, from the LA Galaxy, and Daniel Paladini, from the Chicago Fire, seems to strengthen the notion that Gregg Berhalter wants to see our Crew play a free flowing brand of attacking soccer. These two players add numbers to an already crowded midfield picture. The goal might be to see which of the midfield puzzle pieces work best together during pre-season, and then possibly cut ties with those players who don’t fit Berhalter’s philosophy.

Can we be sure the above is our sporting director’s goal in terms of attack? It’s still difficult to know, due mostly to the fact that acquiring one more proven finisher seems to be a priority given goal production last year. Will the Crew sign another goal scorer? What type of player will that goal scorer be? A target player, back to the goal? A deep lying attacker? An outside/in wing type?   

Looking at the squad so far, Gregg Berhalter appears to be assembling a team which will place five attacking minded players on the field, as a group, without much thought as to position. The likes of Frederico Higuain, Justin Meram, Bernardo Anor, Oduro, Jimenez, and Jairo Arrieta, give the impression of a Coach who wants his attack to be diverse, not rigid or reliant on a certain formation with strictly defined roles.

If the Crew does sign a proven goal-getter evidence points to either a deep lying attacker or an outside/in kind of wing. In other words, another player who can fit in with the existing crew, someone who is smart, versatile and able to be dangerous wherever he finds himself in the attacking third.

The Columbus Crew is slowly coming together. Much is new, yet a significant number of pieces to the puzzle are familiar. I haven’t even mentioned youngsters like Chad Barson, Wil Trapp, Waylon Francis, and Ben Speas. There is promise and youth about our Crew.

No comments: