Friday, June 24, 2016

Crew and Berhalter, Important Measured Decisions in Immediate Future

The Columbus Crew have money in the bank. The Columbus Crew have one month to decide how to spend that money. The Columbus Crew are already mulling options and contacting potential additions to their roster, and must carefully weigh the immediate future (2016/17 seasons), current roster age/fragility, positional needs and the longer term future (2016-2020) of the franchise.

Simply put, given the style of play and Gregg Berhalter's leanings, the Columbus Crew should be looking at signing a proven mid-twenties central defender and a proven mid-twenties attacking midfielder.

While healthy, the Crew back line is solid, but old. Parkhurst and Wahl can hold down the middle, but not for an MLS Cup winning side. Gaston Sauro will, hopefully, be back and 100% next year. At 26 years-old, Sauro is the first half of a MLS Cup winning central back pairing, potentially for another 5-6 years. Another central defender of Sauro's age and quality sets the Crew for years to come.

Attacking-mid is a similar situation. Higuain just had hernia surgery. The annals of soccer are rife with aging players having this surgery and never being the same. Higuain had already lost a step, not in mind but in body. Signing a proven attacking-mid in his mid-twenties, spending the money to do so, would set the Crew for the next 5-6 years.

If the only goal is to win right now, and the Crew believe Higuain will be back and 100%, then they will most probably sign a proven striker. Will this route win an MLS Cup, I don't think so. But, can the Columbus Crew win an MLS Cup title without signing an out and out striker? I think so.

With players like Finlay, Meram, Mabwati, Ola Kamara and now Duka, the Crew have the type of players capable of scoring a lot of goals in Gregg Berhalter's system, especially with a younger attacking-mid, one with greater range, stamina and strength.

Players like Higuain, Parkhurst and Wahl would still play important roles, on and off the field, for the next two years. The improved defense, with Tchani and Trapp providing the boiler in the boiler room, would be MLS Cup worthy.

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