COLUMBUS, Ohio – The numbers say that the Columbus Crew will survive and maybe even thrive without Guillermo Barros Schelotto next season. But that doesn’t mean he will not be missed.
Schelotto, whose option will not be renewed by the Crew, has been the leader on offense since his arrival in May 2007 and finished his stay in Columbus with 33 goals and 41 assists in 102 regular-season games.
However, in his final three full seasons, the Crew did remarkably well without him in the lineup. They were 9-0-1 in the regular season when he did not dress and outscored opponents by a combined 21-6. During the same span, the Crew were 1-1-1 when he was a substitute.
In 2009, Columbus won all six regular-season games he missed by a combined score of 13-3 (though he was famously benched for the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Real Salt Lake, and the Crew lost 1-0). Schelotto sat only one game this season and the Crew won 3-1 at New York on May 20 while he served a suspension.
There were times Schelotto and head coach Robert Warzycha did not seem to be on the same page, particularly after the playoff benching in 2009, but he never publicly criticized his boss.
This season, Warzycha expressed a desire to see the Crew attack more aggressively, but felt he couldn’t do that with the 37-year-old Schelotto. Warzycha likes to go with two forwards while Schelotto was more comfortable settling in behind the front man. That will change next season with Schelotto gone.
Also, the Crew want more from open play. Of Schelotto’s 33 career goals in MLS, 13 were on penalty kicks and 23 of 41 assists were from set pieces. In the past two seasons, 10 of 11 assists came via free or corner kicks. Those are impressive stats, but Warzycha admitted the team got away from what he calls “attractive soccer” with Schelotto at the helm.
“Who we had on the field determined how we played,” Warzycha said. “That’s what we want to change. We don’t want to be a team that people are saying we can only score on set pieces. “We want to be a team that is dangerous from the run of play. That’s what we didn’t have this year.”