By Casey Ward
Pitiful is the soccer fan who must suffer the agonies of a bye week. When all of winter has been spent ruminating on negotiations, transfers (actual and rumored), player fitness, even alterations in kit design, what is a fan to do when the season at long last begins, only to stutter instantaneously into two early bye weeks? How is the energy stored during the fan’s winter hibernation to be spent? On a Serie A match? Ridiculous. On a late afternoon MLS match featuring lowly Colorado and lowlier Toronto FC? Risible. On a meaningless though internationally broadcast tie between Liverpool and West Ham United? Absurd. For a Crew fanatic, the only option, of course, is a pair of 45-minute Columbus scrimmages against vastly inferior competition, namely Duquesne and Louisville, on a cold and blustery Saturday afternoon without a single vendor hawking beer, domestic or otherwise.
Duquesne presented few threats to the defending Supporter’s Shield winners, though all three Crew goals came only in the final ten minutes of play. Louisville, on the other hand, was a structured outfit, and tallied the only goal in the exhibition with Columbus. Admittedly, the Crew fielded weak and/or makeshift sides against the opposition, allowing trial players and fresh signings to stretch their legs. Sergio Herrera, coach Robert Warzycha’s forward acquisition presumably brought in to replace Alejandro Moreno,
Photo from fOTOGLIF
failed to make any sort of an impact on either game. In fact, he was quietly jeered off the field by the dozens of Crew supporters in attendance when the coaching staff opted for a more potent attacking substitute (a young Nigerian that no one was able to name or whose name no one was able to pronounce) in the second match.
The most interesting player in the lineup for the Crew’s scrimmages was Leandre Griffit, a French attacking midfielder who has played for Crystal Palace and Leeds United, among other European clubs. Griffit revealed two very important things about himself during the Louisville match: he is more assured in possession than anyone on the current roster excepting Schelotto and he is nowhere near match fitness. His skills are such that they fit a niche currently open in the Crew formation, as my previous article has argued, and are forcing the Crew management to open a roster spot by trading or waiving a player without a guaranteed contract. Of those without such a contract, Kevin Burns, Shaun Francis, Othaniel Yanez and Andy Iro are likely on the shortlist. After four league games without even a substitute appearance and an ineffective and languid display against two college squads, Sergio Herrera should be at the top of that list.