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5 Key Players To Columbus Crews’ 2014 MLS Season

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5 Key Players for the Columbus Crew in 2014

5 Key Players for the Columbus Crew in 2014
Jonathan Dyer - USA TODAY Sports

It is a new era for the Columbus Crew and the preseason ended well as they claimed the Disney Pro Soccer Classic. Now Gregg Berhalter and the new regime head to the regular season with momentum but will still do their fair share of experimentation until they find the right tactics. Perhaps more than any coach in MLS, Berhalter will call upon a core of players, some new and some old, to keep the Crew afloat.

Preseason success doesn't necessarily equal success in the regular season. However, the Crew really needed something to go right. Before heading on their last training trip Berhalter spoke of lots of tweaks that needed to be made. The players were not working right in the formation and he spoke of various formations that he might deploy this season.

New owner Anthony Precourt has decided to build in the back and not add to the attack. However, the additions in the back make this list as they look to replace long time Crew member Chad Marshall. There will also be a change in goal as Steve Clark and Matt Lampson fight for the number one spot. The defense is slowly morphing into a more modern, aggressive type of back line.

The way the team is shaping up seems to show that Berhalter wants to play a more attractive style of soccer. That will be welcome in Columbus where interest is waning during a downward trend. The supporting cast will be important but they are still maturing, so the following five players will be looked at for leadership and solid play. The Crew could be the surprise team of MLS if it all goes right, but that means these guys never have a let down.

Douglas Smith is a soccer writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DFresh39, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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5. Wil Trapp - Defensive Midfielder

Wil Trapp
Trevor Ruszkowski - USA TODAY Sports

At one point in time while at Disney, Wil Trapp got to wear the captain's armband and that is saying a lot for a homegrown player. He could be the full time captain for his reliability and performance. At a young age, Trapp has become quite vocal as well. Trapp could play various roles depending on the formation that is deployed, but right now he looks to be in a more defensive role. He will still be called upon to orchestrate.

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4. Giancarlo Gonzalez - Defender

Giancarlo Gonzalez Columbus Crew
Jonathan Dyer - USA TODAY Sports

Replacing Marshall in the back will not be easy but signing a veteran center back like Giancarlo Gonzalez will surely help. He comes to the crew after two seasons in Norway and is known for his one-on-one defending. Gonzalez has made 31 appearances for the Costa Rican National Team including two against the United States in 2013. Gonzalez just recently joined the club but quickly becomes an important part of the team.

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3. Michael Parkhurst - Defender

Michael Parkhurst Columbus Crew
Jonathan Dyer - USA TODAY Sports

The USMNT international is expected to start at center back. However, Michael Parkhurst has the flexibility to play out wide as well. A pairing with Gonzalez seems fitting as Parkhurst's intelligence would compliment the physical ability of Gonzalez. However, Berhalter has threatened to go to a 3-5-2 formation which would put even more pressure on Parkhurst. It would be fun to watch, but it may be some time before that risky formation is used.

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2. Dominic Oduro - Forward/Midfielder

Dominic Oduro Columbus Crew
Trevor Ruszkowski - USA TODAY Sports

A lot hinges on the formation again, but Dominic Oduro was able to have a great year on the wing in 2013. Oduro will miss the first game due to a carryover suspension, but will be placed back in the starting eleven for pace and finishing ability. The trend says that even years are not good for Oduro, but the Crew will try to make sure he has space.

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1. Federico Higuain - Forward

Federico Higuain Columbus Crew
Greg Bartram - USA TODAY Sports

Another option to captain the team will be last year's MVP, Federico Higuain. He has an incredible ability to finish as was demonstrated in the Disney final. He also has the ability to create and take risks. Higuain may get called for the occasional offside, but it is that ability to play on the edge that makes him so vital.