Columbus Crew 2014 season predictions

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From the March 6, 2014 edition

What fun is a season preview without some goofball prognosticating?

KEY DEPARTURES:

Eddie Gaven, Chad Marshall, Andy Gruenebaum, Matias Sanchez, Glauber, Robert Warzycha

KEY ARRIVALS:

Michael Parkhurst, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Steve Clark, Hector Jimenez, Daniel Paladini, Waylon Francis, Gregg Berhalter

BREAKOUT PLAYER:

Justin Meram, midfield/foward

The obvious choice is Wil Trapp, but Meram has shown enough flashes of brilliance in previous campaigns to convince me that with some confidence (and perhaps more forward play) J9 will produce consistently enough to warrant this selection.

NEWCOMER:

Steve Clark, goalkeeper

You could make the case for defenders Giancarlo Gonzalez and Michael Parkhurst, but I think goalkeeper Steve Clark’s calm, accurate distribution will have a bigger impact on dictating how the Crew play (build from the back and strike quickly if possible).

X-FACTOR:

Tony Tchani, central midfielder

Some fans might vehemently disagree, but simply put, when Tchani’s engaged physically and mentally, he’s one of the most dominating central midfielders in MLS. The problem, once again, is consistency. A more clearly defined role should make a huge difference.

MOST ENTERTAINING:

Dominic Oduro, forward

The Ghanaian forward with a Papa John’s crush is a freaky fast, electrifying and streaky goal-scorer. If the Crew have playoff hopes, Oduro must come correct with boatloads of dynamic goals (and celebrations).

MVP:

Federico Higuain, forward

Because Pipa.

SEASON PREDICTION:

MLS Cup finalists

I’m drinking the Crew kool-aid following Saturday’s 4-1 dismantling of MLS champs Sporting KC. Even if it was just a preseason tournament, I saw more sexy soccer than all of last year combined. With an anticipated summer (large) signing, I’m calling it now, homerism be damned. To MLS Cup we go!