Sunday, January 16, 2011
Who are the Crew?
A whimper not a bang.
That was how the 2010 season ended for the Massive Club. Brian Carroll's tragically missed PK sent the would be champion Rapids onto the next round and left the black and gold faithful in stunned silence. The off season however would be a completely different story. The Crew Front Office hit the ground running and have totally blown up the roster that brought them an MLS Cup in 2008, having sent more heads rolling than the french revolution.(though the FO promises us this isn't a rebuild) While many aren't happy with the way the team went about the process of gutting the club, the simple fact is that many of our beloved legends such as Guillermo, Frankie and St.Duncan weren't what they used to be. Our judgment on their playing abilities is forever compromised. Our heads are full of moments like Duncan's Bike ride up in Rochester, or Frankie's MLS Cup goal off that Magical Guille pass, we're fatally biased. What happened in many ways needed to happen, though that doesn't mean the problems left behind aren't worth getting upset over.
The biggest problem in their departure is less about what they brought on the field and more about what they brought off of it. Those three men were the face of the Columbus Crew. They made the Massive Club, massive.
The new band of players that will take the field for Columbus next year seem to lack that same soul that had been present in those men. They brought passion and leadership to the team, they were Icons. Frankie, Guille, Dunc's and BC were the four men who regularly wore the armband when they were on the field and now they're gone. Add to that the fact that an emerging fan favorite and face of the team, Lenhart, is now gone as well. [Say what you will about his finishing, but the man was active in the community and was a boon the the Locker Room] The old guard of leaders and the identity that the team had formed around them has left, and The 2011 Crew right now are shaping up to be a rock group without a frontman.
Not all is lost though, The Crew as a team still have a solid core to build around. Guys like Hesmer, Marshall, Gaven, Rogers, Ekpo, and Francis are all players good enough to keep the team going. The problem is that everyone of those men is a humble team player. I know that sounds strange but it's true. The players left at the core of the team lack the panache that we all knew in loved in our fallen legends. Guillermo was a crafty puppet master who could do anything with the ball, Frankie was the never say die surfer who could run for days, and St. Duncs was the Comic Kiwi and longest tenured veteran. They were the guys the team built it's identity around. The ones who people came to see and the community associated with this team.
There are still some players left who have the potential to step into the spotlight and grab the Mic. Guys like O'rourke, and Renteria have the personality, but aren't as universally loved. Also New players like Heinemann seem to have the personality that can quickly endear a player to fans. New players are still yet to be acquired as well The Crew are still far from having filled out it's roster for the start of the season and someone will have to step up to fill the void. The test will be time. Results speak volumes, and for a team that's being put back together like the Crew a new identity has to emerge. For the sake of the fans hopefully it emerges quickly and we find an answer to the question, Who can make Columbus, massive again?