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Commentary:Crew wants to be younger team; fans upset Schelotto, Hejduk gone

(courtesy of MLS)

The Columbus Crew said goodbye recently to several players by declining to pick up their options.

That group included Frankie Hejduk, Gino Padula, Duncan Oughton, Leandre Griffit, Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Jason Garey.

As a member of the media, all of these players were fun to be around and talk to. They were always professional and willing to help us get whatever information we needed to do our jobs.

Personally, the Crew really don’t need Jason Garey, Gino Padula and Leandre Griffit. Those three aren’t goal scorers and were basically role players.

As for Schelotto and Hejduk, I diasgree with the Crew on those two players.

The fans in Columbus and Ohio, come to the games to see Schelotto and Hejduk. Schelotto can score on anybody, any team and was most electrifying player and most popular player since Brian McBride, Edson Buddle and Jeff Cunningham.

In Hejduk, he was the team leader, captain and epitomized what the Crew’s term of “hardest working team” meant. He could score goals, but his job was to settle all the young players down.

When the Crew announced that they were severing ties with the teams top two leaders, fan reaction to me when I asked several folks were: “Where’s the goal scoring coming from”; Where’s the leadership coming from”; “the Crew are a cheap organization; “Robert Warzycha didn’t want Schelotto around” and “We won a championship because of those players. Why show them the door.”

General manager Mark McCullers says there are several reasons they have to do this. Salary budget cuts, an aging roster and the desire to play a quicker, more unpredictable style are the main reasons. They want more team speed and better one-on-one defending.

The management did say that they’ll try to re-sign Griffit at a lower salary. He did show promise in limited duty when he joined the team in mid-season.

Head coach Robert Warzycha says that all MLS teams are used to the way the Crew plays now. They have to have more team speed and be more dangerous and not only score off set pieces which the Crew were really good at for several years.

My only question is, where will the scoring come from even if the team gets quicker and plays more uptempo. You still have to have someone who is a threat to score every time down the field. It seems like the Crew will fall back into the ‘having trouble scoring’ mold they suffered when Brian McBride left to play overseas.

Technical director Brian Bliss says the Crew can improve by acquiring players from the international market, MLS SuperDraft and homegrown talent.

Another question. Can they find another goal scorer and a leader like Schelotto and Hejduk? The 2011 season will tell!

compiled from staff & Columbus Crew news

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