Although the USA isn't done at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, our nation's top League has wrapped-up its break, and the Crew is set to continue MLS play on Saturday when FC Dallas visits Columbus. It's been an up-and-down first few months for the Black & Gold, but the club is in fine position entering the de facto second half of the season. Columbus is currently tied with New York Red Bulls for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and will look to bolster its placement with a strong performance against the Hoops this weekend.
That being said, let's dig a little bit beneath the surface to find out what (and who) has gone well for the Crew this season.
The Crew, aided by Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter's newly implemented style, has been a possession monster in 2014. The Black & Gold currently rank second in MLS with 56.16% total possession in all matches, trailing only Sporting Kansas City in that regard.
In fact, the Crew has only played two matches this season where it had less than 50% of the ball, and in one of those occurrences (May 4 at Sporting Kansas City), it checked in at 49.94%.
The Black & Gold has been a passing machine this season. The Crew has attempted 7,189 passes, exactly 350 more than its next closest competitor (Sporting KC). With 479.27 passes per match, the Crew sends out, on average, just over 20 more passes per clash than any other MLS team.
Here's the really impressive part: not only does the Crew attempt more passes than anyone else, it succeeds on more passes than anyone else. The Black & Gold's 82.46% passing accuracy leads MLS, and the club has completed over 300 more total passes than any other club.
Who's been the driver of this distributive success? As you might expect, it has been the tremendous central midfield triangle of Federico Higuain, Wil Trapp and Tony Tchani. All three rank in the League's top 10 in successful passes:
|Player||Successful Passes||Accuracy||Passes into Final Third||Chances Created|
In the above chart, you can see Columbus' "midfield big three" and how influential they have been. Of note: Higuain's 184 passes into the final third leads the League by 26.
It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the Crew has been a possession and passing stalwart this season. That's how Gregg Berhalter wants his side to play, and it has showed through the first few months of the season.