Last season the Columbus Crew went 13-13-8 and finished in ninth place in the Eastern Conference and 17th overall. Just one season after lifting the 2020 MLS Cup championship they failed to reach the playoffs. Even though the 2021 MLS regular season showed some struggles, they did win the 2021 Campeones Cup. Despite lifting a trophy it was still a disappointing season for the Black and Gold.
The early parts of the 2022 season have shown some of the same struggles in MLS play but it is a long season with time to turn things around.
Season So Far
So far during the first part of the season, Columbus has gone 3-4-4. Five of those eleven have been at home with a 3-2-0 record at Lower.com Field. Two of their three wins came against the Vancouver Whitecaps and D.C. United both of which are on the bottom of their divisions.
The 3-0 win against D.C. United on April 30 got the Crew back in the win column for the first time since March 12. The win ended a five-game winless skid and avoided a third consecutive home loss. It also marked the first time that the Black and Gold got on the scoresheet in four games. That match showed glimpses of what the club is looking to achieve on the field and it just might have been what they needed to get back on track.
Part of the success of that match can be chalked up to a formation change. Instead of coming out in the usual 4-2-3-1, Caleb Porter has gone with a 4-3-3. The new-look formation has allowed them to focus on being dangerous in transition. It’s allowing them to be stronger defensively while also opening up pockets of space in the attack.
The strength of this team has been the midfield so far but they don’t have the attacking power to optimize it. Offensively they have been led by Lucas Zelarayán and Derrick Etienne who have scored seven of the Crew’s 13 goals. At the forward position they are leaning on Miguel Berry who beat out Gyasi Zardes for the starting position but through nine games he’s only got one goal.
On April 22, Gyasi Zardes was traded to the Colorado Rapids for $300,000 of General Allocation Money but that number could go up due to performance incentives. The midseason trade leaves Berry as the go to striker. Columbus will have to figure out a formation to get on the scoresheet and be dangerous in the attacking third if they want to climb up the Eastern Division standings.
Defensively things are improving but they have struggled with allowing early goals. Through nine games they’ve conceded nine goals and five of those have come before the first half. They’ve allowed three goals within the first 15 minutes. For a team struggling to find the back of the net, getting behind early is a difficult hole to climb out of. In the new formation though they have earned clean sheets in the last two matches and are making it difficult for opponents to break down.
On the road, Columbus has yet to pick up a victory and has only got three points in four away matches. They’ll need to find a way to pick up some road wins as seven of their next ten games are away.
Luckily for the Crew, three of their next four matches are against teams that have struggled as of late. New England Revolution, New York City FC, and Atlanta United are all in the bottom half of the standings. If they can build on their last performance all three of these games are winnable.
The toughest matchup on the horizon is a May 21 meeting with LAFC. LA is the second highest-scoring team in the league right now and is currently sitting on top of the MLS standings. They have 22 points and a 7-1-1 record to start the season.
If the Crew can get some positive results and grab points in their next few games they’ll be right back in the Eastern Division.
Crew fans will soon be able to place bets on the Black and Yellow in Ohio. The sports betting bill in Ohio has been signed into law, meaning that at some point this year sports betting will launch. Crew fans can familiarize themselves with the best Ohio sports betting bonus offers so that when it does launch they can place bets on the MLS and the Crew right away.