The search for a designated player, the Crewzers, and defense at Crew Stadium are among the topics covered in the inaugural edition of Crew mail. Send your questions to email@example.com. Crew mail will be answered every Thursday afternoon.
What do you feel will be the key when it comes to the Crew making Crew Stadium a fortress this year and do you think that we can repeat the impressive defensive form at home that got us off to such a good start last season?
As always, the key to making Crew Stadium a fortress will be the supporters. The Nordecke was sold out for First Kick against Montreal. I like what the Supporters' Groups are doing for the next home match against New York with their #InviteOneFriend campaign on Twitter. Hopefully, the Nordecke will continue to sell out throughout the 2012 season. The players can feed off that energy and atmosphere the supporters create to continue to produce results at home.
After having a week off to regroup from the Colorado loss on opening day, the Crew's back line was nearly inpenetrable against the Impact. When Montreal did get a quality shot off, Andy Gruenebaum was fantastic in goal, picking up six saves in the victory. Gruenebaum was also voted Man of the Match by his teammates to recognize his performance. After getting his fair share of criticism after Week One, Shaun Francis responded with a quality performace at left back.
So far, the defense has been solid. With veterans Julius James and Carlos Mendes continuing to work their way back from injury, the Crew's back four can only get better with the increased competition in training.
What's the status of the Designated Player search? There was much to-do about it in the off season, but now the roster's full and the team's starting to gel and... So I'm just wondering, have we decided the current squad is what we go with, or do we look for a big name in the summer transfer window?
I had the chance to talk with Crew president and general manager Mark McCullers on Friday morning regarding both subjects.
"I'm definitely happy with how the roster shaped up. I think we're seeing what Mirosevic and Vargas, our two international signings can do," McCullers said. "Are we done? Are we comfortable? No. I don't want us to ever get comfortable, but I like this team. I like their personailty. I always talk about the 'culture of winning' that we've developed and I still have that sense of spirit in this group"
When it came to the designated player search, McCullers noted that front office's focus has shifted to the summer transfer window.
"I met with the coaching staff and Brian (Bliss) yesterday to review the prospects that are on ourt radar and also to talk about how we continue the scouting process to bring more prospects into consideration," McCullers told me. "It's different now, but it's ongoing."
What happened to the Crewzers? Why were they eliminated from the Crew organization? What will halftime shows consist of?
I posed this question to representitatives from the Crew front office and this is the statement I recieved:
"Although the Crewzers have been a significant part of the Crew history and valued ambassadors for the team, we made the difficult decision to discontinue the program following the 2011 season. This decision was not made without thorough research with our fans and research provided by Major League Soccer. We clearly discovered that our fans were looking for a more authentic soccer experience at our games, and wanted to see scores from around the league, first-half highlights, and soccer-related content during halftime. Moving forward, we plan to create and deliver these authentic soccer elements."
Are you going to put Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Frankie Hejduk, or Jeff Cunnigham's name up around the stadium after they retire like you did with Brian McBride?
The Crew is definitely looking in to adding a name to the Columbus Crew Circle of Honor this season, but first the front office will begin to review the qualifications for the presitgious honor. Brian McBride's qualifications were obviously a given. Crew president and general manager said he wants to add more structure to the selection process.