OBETZ, Ohio – The Crew’s CONCACAF Champions League match Tuesday against Santos Laguna of Mexico might be another chance for Leandre Griffit to earn minutes in league play.
The French midfielder has had trouble getting much playing time in MLS since signing May 13, totaling just 43 minutes in three appearances.
“Of course, as a player, as a competitor, to play so few minutes – I have been here five months – it’s disappointing,” said Griffit. “I’m waiting to play more, but it is the coach’s decision.”
Griffit, 26, entered late in a match against Houston (the club that released him prior to the start of the season) on July 24 and scored two minutes into his MLS debut.
“Every time I play I try to score and help the team win,” he said.
For Saturday’s 4-0 loss to Seattle Sounders FC, Griffit again was not on the Crew’s 18-man roster. The benching recalled his time with Southampton in the English Premier League from 2003-05, when he played only seven first-team matches and scored twice.
“If you need me, take me. If you don’t need me, don’t take me,” Griffit said. “It’s frustrating when you don’t play. I’d love to be [out] there and try to do something to help the team.”
While the Frenchman hasn’t contributed much to Columbus in league play, he’s done his fair share for the team in CONCACAF Champions League action.
Griffit has started the past two Champions League games and his goal early in the second half on Sept. 14 broke a scoreless tie and sparked the Crew to a 3-0 win against Joe Public.
Crew head coach Robert Warzycha likes Griffit’s offensive acumen, but he worries about the midfielder’s ability to play on both sides of the ball.
“[Griffit is] not a player from 18 to 18 [goal box to goal box], so you have to really, really think who you are playing against,” Warzycha said. “If you are playing a Mexican team buzzing and interchanging and working without the ball, is he going to be a guy who is going to help [defensively]? I don’t know.”
That’s exactly the kind of team that Columbus will face in Santos Laguna. Los Guerreros lead Group B with seven points (2-0-1) midway through the group stage, and scored five goals in their most recent CCL match against Joe Public .
The Crew (2-1-0), four points ahead of Municipal’s Guatemala for second, would go a long way towards advancing to the second stage with a victory over their Mexican foes.
“If we beat Santos, basically we’ve qualified for the next round and there’s not so much pressure on the guys and they can concentrate on something else,” Warzycha said.
Perhaps Griffit, who hasn’t contributed much to Columbus’ MLS glory, can help the Crew to Champions League splendor.