With the start of the MLS season a little more than a month away, the Columbus Crew head into preseason practice with a lot of new faces. Twelve of the players currently on the roster were not with the Crew last season. The new coach, Gregg Berhalter, looks to improve from the eighth place finish last year that, once again, kept Columbus from the playoffs.
This year’s superdraft helped fill in a lot of vacancies and made a few trades. Defender Ben Sweat was the 14th pick for the Crew, who are looking to shore up a defense missing its long time captain and 10 year veteran Chad Marshall, who was traded to the Seattle Sounders for a 2015 third round pick and allocation money.
“We'd like to thank Chad for his many contributions to the Columbus Crew over the past ten seasons,” Berhalter said via the team's website. “He was a part of some very good teams and contributed to those results.”
Columbus also had to deal with the retirement of midfielder Eddie Gaven. The long time staple retired after 11 years in the league. Using their two picks in the third round, two midfielders were selected to fill in the void. Most notable is Adam Bedell, who netted 23 goals and 22 assists during his four-year college career.
Bedell and veteran forward Jario Arrieta will need to step up to give the Crew a shot to make the playoffs. With the amount of new players starting, including a new starting goalkeeper, along with the departure of eight year pro Andy Gruenebaum, Berhalter will have his hands full. Gruenebaum was traded to Sporting Kansas City for a 2016 draft pick.
All of the fresh talent combined with some freed up funds from the Marshall trade, the Crew are setting up to break the two-year playoff drought and, more importantly, gain stability in their coach, which is something Columbus hasn't had in a few years.