tBG) The new Columbus Crew logo is sharp. Will any part of you miss the hard hat guys? What were the best/worst comments people have said over the years about them?
MR) I think there will be some nostalgic people who will miss the original logo, especially those that have been around since 1996. I think the biggest thing will be people having to buy new apparel, although some will likely just keep what they already have.
The most common joke, that is appropriate to repeat, about the three men was they reminded people of Village People. I actually overheard someone at a game once say they had always thought, when they'd seen the logo around town, that it was for a construction company. Needless to say, this is what the new ownership group wanted to get away from. Now people can look at the badge and know it's a team, and specifically a soccer team.
tBG) It's been lean times for the Crew since 2011 or so. How did the fans cope, and how good does it feel to now be back among the best teams in the East?
MR) The last two years were certainly difficult for Crew fans, especially considering how the team performed from 2008 through 2011. I think after last season, most fans were just happy the year was over after everything that occurred. There was a sense new owner Anthony Precourt had a vision and would make a good hire, which he eventually did in Gregg Berhalter.
As for this year, fans are genuinely excited to see how this team does in the playoffs. After the lean summer months, most Crew fans were ready to scrap the season, but the team has rebounded wonderfully and clawed its way up a tight Eastern Conference. I believe there is a sense that this team could make a bit of noise in the post season with their end of year form and the fans are excited to see what is yet to come from this team.
tBG) Bringing Kei Kamara back next year is going to strengthen an already strong squad. What would be your 2015 Opening Day roster, and what needs if any are expected to be addressed?
MR) I think the team is fairly strong with where it is currently. The addition of Kamara should address Columbus' biggest weakness this year, goal scoring which actually hasn't been a problem of late. If the Black and Gold had a striker who could finish somewhat regularly this year, I don't think it would have taken them until the second-to-last Saturday of the season to clinch a playoff berth. Most of the struggles throughout the summer came from an inability for the man up front, whoever it was, to finish chances.
Obviously there will be some natural attrition, but I would expect the team to stay fairly similar. Berhalter has finally found a starting 11 that he likes and is producing and I wouldn't expect him to mess with that too much over the offseason. I could see the need for a right back, as that has been one of the most rotated positions after the loss of Josh Williams, a player who could be taken in the Expansion Draft, with a blood clot issue.
Predicted lineup: Steve Clark; Hector Jimenez, Michael Parkhurst, Tyson Wahl, Waylon Francis; Ethan Finlay, Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp, Justin Meram; Federico Higuain, Aaron Schoenfeld
Predicted score: 2-0 Columbus