MLS Eastern Conference Preview, Predictions

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Columbus Crew SC

Last year’s results: 14-10-10, lost in the conference semifinals to New England

Head coach: Greg Berhalter, in charge for a third season

Big offseason addition: Kei Kamara, from Wigan Athletic

The Crew made the playoffs last year, but ran into the New England steamroller in the conference semifinals. This year, the team has a new crest, new jerseys, and an equally slick team on the field.

Hopes are high again in Columbus.

The big offseason addition for the Crew actually came late last season, when they signed Kei Kamara from Wigan. He gives Columbus something they lacked in 2014: a center forward whom they could rely on to get goals. In his best MLS season, 2012, Kamara had 11 goals and eight assists for Kansas City. Both of those totals would have led the Crew last year.

Kamara brings veteran leadership to a side that already has plenty of young talent. If you don’t know these names already, you will soon. 22-year-old Wil Trapp recently got his first cap for USMNT, but he’s been a regular presence in the Columbus midfield, just in front of the back line. When he wasn’t with the Costa Rican team in Brazil, 24-year-old left back Waylon Francis had six assists for the Crew last year. 24-year-old winger Ethan Finlay had 11 goals last year. The Crew also picked up former Rapids full back Chris Klute.

Glass half full: With a mix of youth and veteran talent, there’s a hint of last year’s New England about this Columbus team. They’re unlikely to make a big summer signing, but the Crew are poised to become bona fide contenders in 2015. Look for Finlay to have another big year in front of goal, while the partnership of Trapp and Tony Tchani continue to boss around opposing midfields.

Glass half empty: With youth comes risk. The Crew’s young talent could plateau, rather than continuing to grow after a successful last season. They were demolished by the Revs last fall; perhaps they just don’t have what it takes yet to succeed in the playoffs. Columbus is probably bound for the playoffs in the year ahead, but there’s no guarantee of anything beyond that.

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  • Anonymous

    Six teams make the Eastern Conference playoffs this year. As ridiculous as that may sound, even worse is that NYRB will not be one of them. NYCFC has a better chance.

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