2006 Club by Club
The 2006 Columbus Crew season was one of both frustration and promise. A season that had been eagerly anticipated following the offseason hiring of highly acclaimed head coach Sigi Schmid was ultimately derailed under the weight of an improbable string of injuries. But by the end of the year, it had provided a tantalizing glimpse of the future.
The Crew got out of the gates with a 4-4-2 record in its first 10 games, but by the end of the season had lost a remarkable 240 man-games to injury - on average of 7.5 per game-and the list of season-ending injuries included the club's top two goalkeepers, Jon Busch and Jonny Walker, and All-Star Frankie Hejduk. Five different players started in goal over the course of the season. That instability was ultimately reflected in a final record of 8-15-9, but the team never gave up on the season and closed with a 4-4-1 flourish in its last nine games, scoring 43 percent of its total goals in that span (13 of 30). Included in that run were a 1-1 tie vs. eventual MLS Cup champion Houston and a 3-0 victory over runner-up New England.
The emergence of dynamic newcomers Ricordo Virtuoso, Jacob Thomas and Joson Garey, the reigning M.A.C. Hermann Trophy winner, who all shined upon regaining full health and fitness, and the inspirational return of veteran Duncan Oughlon from experimental knee surgery after nearly-two year absence to provide an emotional lift and hard-nosed leadership were highlights.
Chilean Marcos Gonzalez, who would be named team MVP in his first season with the club and Chad Marshall, 22, formed the backbone of a solid young defensive corps and the midseason acquisition of Joseph Ngwenya, who tied Garey for the team scoring lead with five 5 goals and 2 assists, energized the attack.
Further fueling optimism for 2007 was the club's first major player-personnel move of the offseason, in which the Crew acquired local product Danny O'Rourke from Toronto FC. O'Rourke, a veteran of two MLS seasons spent with S.J. and N.Y., is a Worthington native who captained Worthington Kilbourne to the 2000 Division I state championship and Indiana University to the 2003 NCAA Men's College Cup title. Both of those matches, incidentally, were played at Crew Stadium.