After coming up short in the 2015 Audi MLS Cup, being defeated at home by the Portland Timbers, it can't go unnoticed how they made it to that point. A huge improvement from last season, Columbus Crew SC had a great season and one that will be remembered as the years pass on.
At the end of last season, while the Crew was in the playoffs against the New England Revolution, they made a huge signing in Kei Kamara, the former Middlesbrough striker. Unfortunately, they were eliminated and had to work through the offseason on how to make it back to the playoffs. The work began, and must have paid off.
To start the 2015 season, changes were made. The club got a new logo, and new name. The 'Columbus Crew' and the three men crest, were no more. It was now introduced as 'Columbus Crew SC' and a shield showing the identity of the club from certain parts of the beloved city. That also came with a new uniform combination, and one which seemed to be, that one kit came in favor of the other. So, not only did the club get a new name, crest, and uniforms, but they also introduced MAPFRE Stadium. The team earned stadium naming rights from MAPFRE Insurance, coming out from Spain.
As far as roster changes go, Columbus brought in multiple players to strengthen their core identity of how they play. Austrian defender Emanuel Pogatetz was introduced as the new center back to give the backline the big man that they need. Later in the season during the summer transfer window, they signed Argentine defender Gaston Sauro to replace Pogatetz.
In the midfield, they signed Congo winger Cedrick Mabwati, who instantly came in and made a statement. The midfielder came into the team as a third sub late into the game, but moved his way up the line to becoming the first off the bench during any game. His agility is what gets to the opposing backlines the most. Also in the midfield spot, was short term starter, Mohammed Saeid. Fans didn't see too much of Saeid as the season neared its end, but he did start most of the games at the beginning, after homegrown fan favorite Wil Trapp suffered a concussion in the second game of the season. Finishing out the midfield was Kristinn Steindorsson from Iceland. Making limited appearances, Steindorsson spent the majority of his time on the bench.
As we move to the forwards, only two major signings took place in the 11 spot of head coach Gregg Berhalters' 4-2-3-1 formation. The first was none other but the man himself, Kei Kamara. Kamara was the target man all season long. Notching a career best 26 goals (including four goals in the postseason); Kamara was just the striker the Crew needed in order to get where they ended up at the end of the 2015 season. Finally, Columbus made a signing that brought fans to shock. As the summer transfer window came to an end on 'Deadline Day,' former Impact forward Jack McInerney signed a deal with Columbus that lasted for the rest of the season. McInerney appeared in several games for the Crew, including the Eastern Conference Semifinal against his former team in leg two, and the MLS Cup final against the Portland Timbers this past Sunday.
Notable key wins for the club this year came against rivals Toronto FC, Seattle Sounders, Orlando City, Chicago Fire, Montreal Impact, and the New York Red Bulls.
Defender Waylon Francis, midfielder Ethan Finlay, and Kamara were gifted with an All-Star vote to play in the MLS All Star Game held in Colorado, coached by Colorado Rapids head coach, Pablo Mastroeni. It was all three players first time playing in an all-star game.
Columbus finished the season with a 15-8-11 (W-D-L) record, worthy enough of second place. Advancing to the postseason for the second time under Berhalter, the Crew has "started from the bottom, now they're here."