Young Crew Duo Lead Resurgence
After an electrifying start to the season, the Columbus Crew faltered down the stretch. Rotating between unnecessary draws and heart breaking losses, the season looked all but over for a rebuilding Crew squad. Head coach Gregg Berhalter made some changes to the lineup in an attempt to boost his team into a playoff spot and succeeded thanks to a rookie striker and a young midfielder.
Striker Adam Bedell was selected by the Crew in this years superdraft and only made a few appearances in the first three months, many near the end of the match. Although it did not take the University of Detroit Mercy product long to make an impact in the MLS. In week one he subbed in late in the second half to give striker Jairo Arrieta rest. While the substitution was not significant, the effect was. Bedell became the tallest player to ever take to the pitch in the MLS at a staggering 6'7” in height.
Bedell is more than just a skyscraper roaming around in the attacking third. He has great technique and while he doesn't have many goals, he has tied up defenders so that other players can score. I've witnessed star designated player Federico Higuain sneak behind him and fire a shot before the opposing goalkeeper knows what happened. Of course his height comes in handy as evidenced by a great headed goal courtesy of a high Justin Meram pass.
While Bedell has been impressive, the main spark for the Columbus resurgence can be credited to young Ethan Finlay. The 23 year old midfielder from Creighton University has stunned fans and analysts alike with his electric play. Finlay mostly rode the bench until Higuain got hurt. Even after that, he sat behind Dan Palladini and Ben Speas.
Finlay got a chance to show what he could do against Real Salt Lake and has since started. With his breakaway speed and great vision he has harassed opposing back fours every second of every match. If his speed wasn't enough, his finishing is top notch as well. One of his finest moments was a chip shot over Real Salt Lake's Jeff Attinella for a game tying goal.
While many will analyze the goal and give the facts on how it was a great shot and a great performance, they fail to see the emotional value. That solitary goal gave Crew fans a reason to rejoice and hope the year wasn't over. Sure enough Finlay and Higuain have been a menace to every squad they have faced and show no signs of stopping. This goes to show what two young players can do to shift a team's fortunes. Now the Crew sit above the red playoff line by a mere point, it will take these two young guns plus the defensive World Cup veterans on defense to see Berhalters first season end in a playoff berth.