In anticipation for tonight's Eastern Conference showdown between our very own Sporting Kansas City, and the Columbus Crew, I had a chance to ask Patrick Guldan of Massive Report a few questions about how the opposition's season has been going thus far.
A big thank you to Patrick for taking the time to give us a little insight on the Crew's 2012 campaign.
1. What have been your overall thoughts on the Crew's season thus far? Do you feel Columbus has overachieved? Underachieved?
It's tough to assess the season. They have looked solid and grinded out wins at times and suffered through a month where they looked overmatched.
The offense has been missing in action most of the year. There is no dependable goal scoring threat so the team has to rely on a stout defense. Eddie Gaven leads the team with 4 goals, that's just not threatening.
The defense has been stellar behind goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum. Even when Chad Marshall wasn't available players like Josh Williams stepped up. Nemanja Vukovic and Sebastian Miranda have been excellent at the outside backs.
2. Which players do you feel have been most vital to the Crew in the first half of the season, and why? Team MVP thru the first half of the season?
The MVP conversation starts and ends with Andy Gruenebaum. He's maybe the MLS best keeper so far. He's always been a great shot stopper, but he's also shown off excellent leadership in setting up the defense.
Other players have played well. Josh Williams has been a revelation in central defense. He pairs outstanding athletic ability with solid soccer smarts. Eddie Gaven again is quiet and dependable. The offense would be even worse without him.
3. The Crew's defense has been stingy in the first half of the season (17 goals allowed, tied with Sporting KC for the least GA in MLS), but the offense has struggled.. Why do you feel like Columbus has struggled to score goals thus far?
Columbus head coach RobertWarzycha sets the team up to be strong at the back, but they lack offensive ingenuity. Milovan Mirosevic hasn't been able to be the creator many thought he would be. Beyond that, Emilio Renteria scored 8 goals in limited time in 2011 and was expected to do far more this year. Olman Vargas has a single goal after coming in the offseason. The forwards on the team just aren't executing.
Jairo Arrieta is the most recent import and may make his debut tonight, but fans are still waiting for the long promised offensive DP the front office keeps talking about.