As the season approaches the three teams in the Eastern Conference with the biggest question marks are in the Midwest with the Columbus Crew, the Kansas City Wizards, and the Chicago Fire. All these teams are trying to catch up to their counterparts on the east coast, who have significantly improved their lineups, especially DC United. Here are some concerns of Columbus, Kansas City, and Chicago.
The biggest question mark is with the Crew’s defense. They do need a solid striker but unless they bring in a free agent before the season starts they will not find that need in their camp. The Crew have several players who may start defensively but they have question marks of their own. Ezra Hendrickson is 36 years old, Chad Marshall is coming off a serious concussion, Danny O’Rourke is not a true defender but a converted midfielder, and Andy Iro looks to have a bright future but he is a rookie and it remains to be seen if he can start right away. If Columbus can find a good mix with their defense and find a someone who can score some goals, they may surprise some teams this year, but if they cannot look forward to another season near the bottom of the division.
Kansas City Wizards
The big question mark for the Wizards is if their new defensive scheme will work. The Wizards lost veteran defensemen Nick Garcia and Jose Burciaga, but stacked the defense in this year’s Super Draft, especially picking up #1 pick Chance Myers, who has impressed in cam so far. One holdover is Jimmy Conrad who will be the centerpiece of the Wizards defense. If the Wizards can come up with some offense and their defense plays up to expectations the Wizards may improve on their playoff run of last year. But do not expect too much, as it is very difficult to revamp a team’s defensive scheme with mostly rookies.
How many scorers can the Fire have on their roster? They do not have a star striker but they have a lot of solid players up front. The Fire also recently signed Andy Herron from Costa Rica, who gives them yet another forward. Even with all their forwards the Fire drafted one in Patrick Nyarko, with the #7 pick in the Super Draft, but he was too big a talent for the Fire to pass up. As camp nears the Fire may be looking to make a deal to bring in a few more midfield players by dangling their myriad of forwards as trade bait. San Jose and defending champion Houston are in the markets for some strikers, so the Fire may get some solid midfielders before the season starts. Even Herron who was just signed is not off limits, as the only player that will definitely not be traded is rookie Patrick Nyarko, who has been impressive in camp. The Fire have a decent defense and many scorers, but the question will be who will be able to set the table for the forwards?