Crew Shock Swedish Champs
The Gregg Berhalter era started in Columbus with a tough task. In their first preseason match, the Crew went up against Swedish champions Malmo FF. With a young roster and all the makings of a rebuilding year, the Crew shocked many by beating Malmo 1-0.
Jario Arrieta scored the lone goal in the 50th minute to give the city of Columbus a little hope this year. After all of the roster shuffling and reorganizing, everyone has been anxious to see if the team could produce.
The win showed us a lot about the black and gold. First was their defense is still very much active without Chad Marshall or Gláubier. Each half Berhalter put a new set of defenders on the pitch and each half they shut out the opposition. While we still have no idea who will be starting at kickoff, all indications look good that the Crew defense will keep them in most games.
We also got to see some offense as well. This was the one aspect I was unsure about with the situation at striker being muddled. Jairo Arrieta, who has not quite lived up to expectations, showed that he can come up big in clutch situations. Despite the inconsistency, Berhalter might be able to get a striker team together capable of penetrating defenses like those of Sporting KC.
One of the transfer rumors during the offseason was the Crew targeting Bundesliga veteran Maik Franz. No news has since broken about the progress of the talks. Judging by what was shown against Maimo, Franz would still be helpful, but is not necessarily needed.
Both goalkeepers performed admirably and have left the picture there just as cloudy. In the second half, Crew newcomer Steve Clark made a great case for himself with four critical saves. Matt Lampson in the first half made a few saves, but was not shot at nearly as much.
While this may be severely premature, I believe Columbus could be a dark horse in the east. Despite not having name power or an abundance of veterans, this team seems like they have skill and energy. While they still have a ways to go, the Crew could be knocking on the MLS cup door in the next two or three years.