Danny O'Rourke's versatility has come in handy for the Columbus Crew before.

Danny O'Rourke's versatility has come in handy for the Columbus Crew before.

Last season, with the Crew in dire need of defenders, the Worthington Kilbourne grad moved from his longtime defensive midfield position to central defense. After a shaky start, he grew into a dependable partner for Chad Marshall, providing speed alongside Marshall's size.

Fast-forward to last Saturday's match in Seattle. Brian Carroll, a constant during the Crew's 2008 title run, was out with a separated shoulder, and O'Rourke found himself right back in his old position, albeit with a new outlook.

"Getting B.C. on the team, he's a great player," O'Rourke explained. "Being able to sit behind him and see things that he does and being able to talk to him and see what a defensive midfielder's supposed to be doing from a defender's standpoint, I definitely gained a different perspective."

O'Rourke played one of his best matches in a Crew kit against the Sounders. Coach Robert Warzycha praised him for using his speed to force Seattle's Freddie Ljungberg out wide, away from his most potent attacking space in the center of the park.

"That's what you want," Warzycha said. "You want the other team to change their tactics."

It was a solid rebound from O'Rourke's last appearance May 17 at Los Angeles, when an ill-advised, overzealous slide tackle on the Galaxy's Landon Donovan earned him a red card. Forced to play a man down for the duration of the match, the Crew eventually conceded the tying goal in stoppage time, earning yet another draw in a season full of them.

"It probably wasn't the right decision," O'Rourke admitted. "I was trying to make a play to get the three points for the team and just didn't think for a second."

With rookie center back Eric Brunner stepping up his game, O'Rourke will face some stiff competition when he returns to his defensive post. But he said he would rather see Carroll and the rest of his teammates healthy and contributing again than be guaranteed a spot on the pitch.

He is, however, impressed with how the team came together during the undefeated month of May. Yes, the season started out rocky, but O'Rourke argued that last year has come and gone, and there are many routes to a championship season.

"We keep battling," he said, "and good things are going to happen."

E-mail Chris DeVille at cdeville@columbusalive.com