Monday, November 12, 2018

Crew Season Ends

After a couple hard-fought games, The Columbus Crew were knocked out of the MLS Cup competition last night by Supporters' Shield winners NY Red Bulls.

Columbus was about as Columbus could be this year as they floated around a zero goal difference and went on long stretches of bad play. In the end, finishing 10th on the overall table. There's a little more to it, obviously, so let's take a closer look.


All the hallmarks of a Gregg Berhalter lead team were here this season. The team held possession in most games, led MLS in crosses and were 3rd in short passing per game. This formula has worked, for the most part, for the Crew since Berhalter took over, albeit a little watered down this year.

The top issue for the Crew this year was always going to be scoring. Before the season started it was obvious what the outlook was for the team. I don't write about the team much anymore but I did manage a few words back in February:

"So much depends on Gyasi Zardes goals and how invested Higuain is. This season will be long and meandering with the World Cup, this team will be looking for a breakout performer."

That's pretty much how it worked out. Zardes. After Kei and Ola Kamara, he was ver 3.0 of a Berhalter number nine. In the goals department, he delivered. But that was about all he has in common with ver 1 and 2. He didn't hold up or work it back out wide when there wasn't anything for him and was ineffective in helping anyone else in the attack.

With zero assists on the season, we can point to him for the decreased production from the wings like Pedro Santos and the return of Justin Meram.


- In 2015, Kei Kamara added 6 assists to his 26 goals, + a key pass per game to go along with 64% passing on 748 passes.

- In 2017, Ola Kamara had 19 goals, 4 assists, 74% passing (624 total passes) + 0.8 key passes per game.

- In 2018, Zardes had no assists, 20 goals, 0.9 key passes per game and 72% passing an 474 passes (25, 40% less than the Kamara's, respectively).

Outside of that, Zardes' goal tally on the road was unacceptable. Just 2 of his 20 coming away from Columbus. This lead to an anemic attack. 43 overall goals for the team this year was tied for 2nd worst in MLS. The team's 11 goals from 17 away from home was dead last, only Colorado with 12 comes close. The next nearest team was four goals up the ladder.

The goal here is certainly not to pick on Zardes and his season. Pedro Santos, despite being one of the better players with the ball in the middle third of the pitch, was ineffective in attack and Mike Grella was injured / out of the lineup to make up for the loss of Justin Meram and the speed of Ethan Finlay (going back a bit).

Santos, Grella, Niko Hansen, Meram and... I think that's it on the wings, just couldn't get anything going with Zardes up top to make this team anything better than mid-table.

Anyhow, outside of a stout defense that included Mensah, Williams, and Gaston Sauro - this is about the season for the Crew - Home effort kept the team in the mix and Away games ultimately killed it.

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