The 2022 MLS season started off pretty well for the Columbus Crew, as they had two wins and two draws in its first four matches. Then, a terrible slump derailed the 2020 MLS Cup champions' season, leaving the team on the outside looking in on the MLS playoffs as of matchweek 19.
In matches 5-12, the Crew scraped together just five points (1-2-5). The abysmal slump saw the Crew score just five goals while also allowing ten. In addition, the team was shut out in six of the eight games during the skid. The Crew had trouble creating chances, as in those eight games, the team had just eight goal-creating actions. The lowest point came after back-to-back losses to NYCFC and LAFC. From that point on, everything has been different for the Crew.
Since then, the Crew have started playing much better and more consistent. In matches 13-18 before this week's 2-2 draw with DC, the team has earned 12 points (3-3-0). The Crew are unbeaten in their last six matches, and in that time-frame, the team has also scored eight goals and allowed just five goals. In these six matches, the Crew had 13 goal-creating actions, showing improvement from the slump. A team that once looked poor is now looking like one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference, and let's not forget that it made a record-signing not too long ago.
During the team's turnaround, it played well against great opponents, drawing against two of the better teams in the MLS in the Philadelphia Union (second in the East) and Real Salt Lake (third in the West). Playing well against good competition will be key in getting back to the top of the standings.
Individually speaking, a few players have made their mark but nobody more than forward Erik Hurtado. The 31-year-old forward made his return from injury and scored in two consecutive games. He has been struggling to stay fit, but if he is healthy, the Crew will benefit.
New signing Cucho Hernandez scored in his 20 minute debut, and will continue to impact the Crew. The record signing will play more minutes going forward and consistently put the ball in the back of the net. He has the potential to propel the Crew to the top of the standings if he plays to the top of his abilities.
As of now, the Crew are trending upward and things are starting to look very good for the team that was in the MLS Cup Final just two seasons ago. A trio of Cucho, Hurtado and Derrick Etienne will be very good for the Crew going forward, and could propel the team to the top level. If all goes well, the Crew could find themselves making it deep into the MLS Playoffs once again.