3 Questions For the Columbus Crew’s Offseason

Expansion Draft looms, putting the Crew in line to make moves
by Al DiFranco   |   Thursday, November 20, 2014

John Hefti Photography - Columbus Crew, Labor Strike, MLS, SoccerNewsday

The Columbus Crew’s 2014 campaign was, as they said on the Love Boat, “exciting and new.” Gone is one of the worst logos in sports. In is a snazzy new crest that is the envy of many around American soccer. Even the name “The Columbus Crew” has been replaced by “Columbus Crew SC.”

On the field, the Black and Gold got back into the playoffs with a solid second-half run, losing to one of the hottest teams in MLS (New England) in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Here are my three most important offseason questions for CCSC:

Who do you protect in the Expansion Draft?

With New York City FC and Orlando City FC joining MLS in 2015, each MLS club is looking at the possibility of losing some talent. Only 11 players may be protected for the December 10 Expansion Draft, along with homegrown players. Here is the list of 11 I see Columbus protecting:

GK – Steve Clark
D – Waylon Francis, Hector Jimenez, Michael Parkhurst, Josh Williams
M – Ethan Finlay, Romain Gall, Justin Meram, Tony Tchiani
F – Federico Higuain, Aaron Schoenfeld

Added to this roster are the homegrown players automatically protected:
GK – Matt Lampson
D – Chad Barson
M – Ben Speas, Wil Trapp

In addition, CCSC signed two players who are exempt from the expansion draft because they do not join the roster until January 1 (DP forward Kei Kamara and midfielder Mohammed Saeid).

This brings CCSC’s roster up to 17 players. Two currently unsigned players, D Eric Gehrig and M Bernardo Anor, may be brought back or lost in the expansion draft. I would not be surprised if F Jairo Arrieta is lost in the expansion draft, as well.

What is the biggest hole on the roster?

Columbus Crew SC need to fortify its defense, especially in the middle. Some would argue that Parkhurst’s best position is as an outside defender, but he is by far the best central defender on the current roster.

If retained on the roster, Gehrig can be decent and so can Tyson Wahl, but neither is championship caliber. This is a glaring weakness that must be addressed through a signing or trade.

What will next season’s starting XI look like?

This is always a difficult exercise without knowing exactly what the roster will look like, but here’s how I see next year’s Starting XI:

GK – Clark
D – Francis, Parkhurst, Gehrig, Jimenez
DM – Tchani, Trapp
M – Meram, Higuain, Finlay
F – Kamara

This lineup is solid, especially with the addition of Kamara up top. The weak area is certainly in defense, with Francis and Jimenez both much better on the attack than covering opposing wing players. This puts a premium on the central defenders, as well as Trapp and Tchani as DMs, to monitor the back end of the pitch. If they are effective in doing so, CCSC should be able to move up the table in 2015.


Ohio State
Club Domestic:
Columbus Crew
Club Foreign:
AC Milan, Everton
Passionate fan of the USMNT, Al is a member of the Cleveland Chapter of the American Outlaws. He also loves to follow and discuss Premier League and Serie A. Named his daughter Mia after a certain soccer legend.