MLS 2022 Team Preview: Columbus Crew
COLUMBUS, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 29: Columbus Crew fans celebrate a 2-0 win over Cruz Azul during the 2021 Campeones Cup at Field on September 29, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

If just missing out on the playoffs last year after winning MLS Cup two years ago is any indication on how the Columbus Crew will perform this year, it's trending in the right direction. 

Columbus just missed out on making the playoffs to defend their 2020 championship, and now look forward to reclaiming glory this upcoming season. 

Now in their 27th season, Columbus Crew are looking to find its rhythm to make a push for the playoffs again. With new faces and returning players, Head Coach Caleb Porter who is now in year four with the Black & Gold, can hope that the team steers the ship in the right direction. 

  • Players signed in offseason

Columbus has a plethora of new faces joining the Black & Gold to help bolster the squad to returning to the playoffs. Among the many to join is Austrailian center back Milos Degenek, Yaw Yeboah, James Igbemeke, Jake Morris, Brady Scott, Jalil Anibaba, and Will Sands. 

Plenty of options in the midfield from those names alone, with Degenek and Sands helping to boost the defense. 

  • Who left Columbus?

As in every other season, the Black & Gold bid farewell to many players such as Aboubacar Keita, Vito Wormgoor, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Erik Hurtado, and Eric Dick, just to name a few. 

Who they didn't want to say goodbye to, was fullbacks Harrison Afful who joined expansion side Charlotte FC, and Milton Valenzuela who could not negotiate a contract in order for him to stay. 

So what happens?

Columbus have a fullback on the right side in Steven Moreira, but no solid leftback, which is probably the highest priority on Porter's list. 

After all, the season is only 25 days away. 

  • First match

The Crew are set to participate in the Carolina Challenge Cup -- which they have won four consecutive times -- with the Charleston Battery, Charlotte FC, and Inter Miami CF. 

Columbus, now playing its first full season at Lower dot Com Field will host the Cascadia side Vancouver Whitecaps FC, before round out their first four fixtures with the San Jose Earthquakes, Toronto FC and the New York Red Bulls. 

  • Return to the playoffs?

Staying healthy is one thing that Columbus has not done very well these past few years. However, being healthy and being able to perform week in and week out are two different things. 

Columbus have a tendency to struggle on the road, going 3-9-5 last year. 

With road struggles being at forefront, it's clear something has to change within the road tactics. But Columbus cannot be riddled with injuries again. It's becoming to be the same old story, same old song and dance (for you Aerosmith fans out there). 

Can Columbus right the ship and return to glory? Let us know what you think in the comments below!