World Cup Takes Toll On Crew
by Neal Sayatovich
May 16, 2014 2:03 AM EDT
With the World Cup rapidly growing closer, MLS clubs are now preparing for possible vacancies left by departed members. One of the hardest hit may be the slumping Columbus Crew. The Crew are on a three match losing streak and now have a defensive dilemma brewing.
Defender Micheal Parkhurst was selected to the 30-man preliminary roster for the United States national team. Since his arrival, the 30-year-old American has taken the place of departed veteran Chad Marshall seamlessly. While this is a tough loss because Parkhurst has anchored an inconsistent Columbus back four since week one of the year, the losses on defense pile on. Additionaly, defenders Waylon Francis and Giancarlo Gonzalez have been selected to the Costa Rica national team preliminary roster.
Losing these three defenders could prove catastrophic for the Crew. If all three men stick to their respective national teams, only Josh Williams will be left as an original starter. Over the past three matches the Crew defense has been a little disorganized, although some of the blame was recently taken by head coach Gregg Berhalter. Berhalter cited “extreme fatigue” contributed to some of the sloppy play.
"If I'm critical of anything, it might be my team selection, of not rotating more guys and getting some fresh legs in there," he told the team's website. "To me, that was clearly the difference."
With the recent poor run of form, a practically new back four is a scary thought for all Columbus fans. In fact many locals are already citing the infamous “Columbus curse” as the reason for the implosion. Many fans are hoping to get a new striker in the summer transfer window to get the team back on track. Berhalter answered the speculation shortly after the trade of forward Ryan Finley to Chivas USA in an indifferent manner.
“Obviously, that's been a position we said we were going to look for anyway, and that is on our list,” Berhalter told reporters.
The timing for this could be perfect if striker Jairo Arrieta is officially called to Costa Rica's roster. Currently, Arrieta is listed as a reserve on the squad and will not travel with Francis or Gonzalez to national team training. Fans are not excited at the potential of losing four starters for an extended period of time and this may be a chance to see what Berhalter does with the roster available. All of the defensive substitutes will also be under the microscope.