When Columbus traded Steven Lenhart last offseason to sate the mischievous striker's longing for his native California, a gap opened in the Crew roster. Columbus needed a scrappy, wild-haired forward who could be counted on for fearless, if erratic, play.

When Columbus traded Steven Lenhart last offseason to sate the mischievous striker's longing for his native California, a gap opened in the Crew roster. Columbus needed a scrappy, wild-haired forward who could be counted on for fearless, if erratic, play.

Enter Tom Heinemann, a St. Louis native who tore up the minor-league USL for double-digit goals in stints with the Charleston Battery and Carolina Railhawks last season.

Those stats have trailed off a bit this season as Heinemann adjusts to the faster play and better decision-making of MLS. On the plus side, this league is just the sort where a tree trunk like Heinemann can thrive.

"It's a very physical league," Heinemann said. "I'm a little more physical of a player."

Heinemann has been known to screw up easy opportunities, but he's won fans over anyway with relentless fiery play and childlike enthusiasm. He's the best goal celebrator in a Crew uniform, both for teammates' tallies and his own.

It only takes a few stats to paint a spot-on picture of Heinemann's presence on the pitch. In 17 appearances with Columbus this year, he has two goals and 21 fouls. Yup - sounds like he's just the man for Lenhart's job.

One more way Heinemann carries the torch for Lenhart: He is very public about his Christian faith. Heinemann even fronted a Christian rock band called Stones Cry Out in college at Rockhurst University; Crew fans can purchase the group's album on iTunes or hunt down Heinemann to buy one of the many copies in his basement.

"I haven't been able to play with the band. A lot of those guys are still back in Kansas City, but you know, music travels with you. My guitar travels with me," Heinemann said. "I just got a Mac computer, so hopefully I can start to utilize that and make some music."

In the meantime, he'll keep up his antics on the pitch.

"I feel like I can play and succeed at this level," Heinemann said, "so I'm trying to work hard and play one day at a time."