Before Wednesday's scheduled game at Vancouver, the Crew had logged 17 MLS matches, putting them exactly halfway through the regular season schedule. Now they have a rare weekend off, which should give them lots of time to ponder these midseason grades - surprisingly low for a club that's contending for the Eastern Conference title.

Before Wednesday's scheduled game at Vancouver, the Crew had logged 17 MLS matches, putting them exactly halfway through the regular season schedule. Now they have a rare weekend off, which should give them lots of time to ponder these midseason grades - surprisingly low for a club that's contending for the Eastern Conference title.

Forwards : C

Before Andres Mendoza's recent explosion for six goals in six matches, the Crew's forward corps looked hopeless.

Emilio Renteria is injured. Jeff Cunningham is still waiting for his first goal. Tom Heinemann has somehow been even clumsier than his forebear Steven Lenhart. Rookies Justin Meram and Bernardo Anor only recently got a chance to shine, but their play has been promising.

Midfield : C-

On the plus side, fresh faces like Meram, Anor and Rich Balchan have contributed speed and smarts. Emmanuel Ekpo is finally figuring out how to thrive in the middle. When healthy, Dilly Duka plays well.

On the other hand, Robbie Rogers is a human black hole, and Eddie Gaven vacillates between fearless veteran and The Invisible Man from match to match. Dejan Rusmir and Kevin Burns have been non-factors.

Despite some beautiful combinations and moments of dominance, inconsistency has been the rule.

Defenders : C+

Back in April, when Columbus set a club record 414-minute shutout streak, defense looked to be the Crew's strong suit. Since then, Columbus has developed a habit of conceding early goals; their 19 goals allowed, while tied for sixth best out of 18 MLS teams, suggests the Crew defense is growing more porous as the season wears on.

Sebastian Miranda, Josh Gardner, Julius James and Balchan have been welcome additions to the backline, and Chad Marshall continues to play like a captain should. So why is it so terrifying to watch opposing teams attack?

Goalkeepers: B-

William Hesmer has come up with some stunning highlights, but few would argue he's been in top form this season. One minute he's making impossible saves, the next he's conceding soft goals.

Coaches: B +

As noted last week, the Crew's rebuilding strategy is looking smart. They've done a good job of grooming newcomers and working them into the lineup. Sometimes Robert Warzycha's substitutions are puzzling, but for the most part everybody is getting the minutes they deserve.