Rebuilding the Crew: An End of an Era or A Simple Transition?

The last time I saw Brian Carroll was after the missed PK against the Rapids on November 6th.  Always considered to be a leader on and off the field (and a first-class individual), Carroll was the first to head to the Nordecke to show his appreciation for the Crew’s most hardcore supporters.  Many athletes would have sulked to the locker room to pout, but not Carroll.  What I didn’t realize was this was his final moment as part of the Crew organization. 

Carroll is the latest to leave Columbus as the Crew undergo serious changes.

Carroll, 29, was acquired by the Crew from San Jose on Nov. 26, 2007, in exchange for Kei Kamara. While in Black & Gold he started all but one of his 84 games played, logging 7,375 minutes and tallying two goals and three assists. Carroll has been instrumental in helping the Crew to two Supporter’s Shields (2008, 2009), one MLS Cup (2008), one U.S. Open Cup final (2010) and the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals for two consecutive years (2009, 2010).

“One of our expansion draft scenarios had Brian unprotected,” said Crew Technical Director Brian Bliss. ”As these discussions with Philadelphia arose, we began seeing an opportunity to achieve some objectives.  We acquired allocation money, a 2011 Superdraft second-round pick and solidified our expansion draft strategy while clearing some cap room to provide resources for our 2011 key priorities.  Unfortunately, we must provide value to get value and Brian Carroll is valuable.  He’s a great pro and a great person who helped us win two Supporters Shields and an MLS Cup and we wish him the best in Philadelphia.”

Prior to signing with the Crew, Carroll spent five seasons with D.C. United where he won one MLS Cup (2004) and two Supporter Shields (2006 and 2007) in 121 games played, recording two goals and 11 assists.

It is safe to say that the 2011 Columbus Crew will look much different than the 2010 version, a team that was booted from the playoffs by the now MLS Cup Champion Colorado Rapids.   With the trade of Carroll to the Union Monday, seven players have left the organization since the offseason began. 

Who knows who would be selected in the MLS Expansion Draft on Wednesday?  The Crew could be one of several teams to lose two players as they have made four potential starters (Adam Moffat, Andy Gruenebaum, Kevin Burns, Eric Brunner) available to the expansion teams. 

Columbus has already shed somewhere between $720,577 (base salary) and $859,327 (guaranteed compensation) in a little more than two weeks. Gone are Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Gino Padula, Carroll, Frankie Hejduk, Jason Garey, Leandre Griffit, and Duncan Oughton. All of these moves had to be terribly difficult decisions, but the Crew front office certainly believes it is for the best.  A statement from Crew President and General Manager Mark McCullers puts this into perspective: 

“Through this process, we have been able to maintain a core group of talented players. With the continuing emergence of future stars within that core, combined with the addition of quality players that fill our needs, compliment the roster and improve the team, our expectations are that we will continue to compete on a level that our fans throughout the region have enjoyed watching over the last few seasons.”

Change can be a scary thing, but it is important to put the club before all else.  Players come and go, but the club is the one mainstay that will always remain.

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