Columbus, OH (Sports Network) - After missing out on a trip to the postseason
for the first time in five years, the Columbus Crew has put itself in position
for a quick return to the playoffs after a successful offseason.
The club not only acquired Glauber, Dominic Oduro and Matias Sanchez, who
figure to have a positive impact, but head coach Robert Warzycha's side should
also benefit from having playmaker Federico Higuain play a full campaign for
the Black and Gold.
Columbus missed out on the final postseason berth in the Eastern Conference by
one point last term. But according to defender Danny O'Rourke, it is something
that has been put in the past, while serving as motivation ahead of the new
"Everyone kind of left last year with a bad taste in their mouths," O'Rourke
said. "Everyone wanted to come back not just to get in shape for preseason,
but to come back ready to work from day one.
"You take a couple of days and look back at games where you should've played
better, games where you shouldn't have given up a goal or where you didn't
score a goal and other opportunities squandered. I learned from a good coach
one time that the best thing about a soccer player is a short memory. Whether
it's a bad pass or bad first touch, or whether it's not making the playoffs,
you've got to learn how to put it behind you."
Fellow defender Chad Marshall would like to erase the memory of last season as
well as he underwent ankle surgery following the regular season and never
quite seemed to be a full strength.
Marshall was limited to 24 games last season, but his return to top form will
be a big boost, as will the continued success of defenders Sebastian Miranda
and Josh Williams.
Add to that mix Brazilian defender Glauber, who at 29 brings a wealth of
experience from his time in Europe, and Warzycha's defense figures to be a
The biggest reason for optimism in Columbus is the fact that the Crew will be
able to get a full season out of Higuain, who was named the MLS Newcomer of
the Year last season despite playing just 13 games.
Higuain's impact was undeniable, however, as he totaled five goals and seven
assists in those 13 matches, giving the Crew attack some much-needed punch.
Joining Higuain in the midfield will be fellow Argentine Sanchez, who signed
with the Crew in the offseason after spending the past five seasons in his
native country with Estudiantes.
Columbus had trouble finding the net at times last season with 44 goals in 34
games. But along with Higuain and joint top scorers Jairo Arrieta and Eddie
Gaven, who netted nine goals apiece, the Crew was able to land an impact
forward in Oduro.
The Ghanaian has spent the past two years with the Chicago Fire, where he
tallied 18 goals.
Oduro was acquired in a trade with Chicago for midfielder Dilly Duka, and
Warzycha feels as though he will bring an extra dimension to the Columbus
"I think he adds something to our style of play," Warzycha said. "He's a
player that scored 12 goals two years ago and scored six last season. He has
something not too many players have in this league, he has speed. He's very
fast, and obviously he's going to give us some other options to play a little
2012 IN REVIEW: Columbus narrowly missed the playoffs for the first time in
five seasons, finishing one point back of the Houston Dynamo for the final
postseason berth in the Eastern Conference. Higuain's arrival in midseason
came a little too late, and Marshall battled through an injury-plagued
campaign that clearly had a negative impact. Even still, the Crew nearly
overcame those issues to qualify for the playoffs, with seven of the club's 12
defeats coming by one goal.
ACQUISITIONS: Tyson Wahl (D), Agustin Viana (D/M), Glauber (D), Dominic Oduro
(F), Matias Sanchez (M).
LOSSES: Cole Grossman (M), Nemanja Vukovic (D), Rich Balchan (D), Julius James
(D), Sebastian Miranda (D), Chris Birchall (M), (F) Tommy Heinemann, William
Hesmer (GK), Carlos Mendes (D), Dilly Duka (M).
OUTLOOK: Columbus should be an improved side in 2013 and is a good bet to
return to the postseason after a one-year hiatus. Marshall's return to health
along with the arrival of Glauber will strengthen the back line, while a full
season with Higuain and the arrival of Oduro should improve what was an
inconsistent attack last season. After failing to make the playoffs from
2005-07, the Crew has the pieces in place to prove that last term was just a
stumble in what should be a run of five playoff appearances in the span of six
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