At the one-third point of the 2005 Major League Soccer season, the Columbus Crew are the lowest-scoring team in the league and have struggled with inconsistency from their forwards. On Tuesday, they made another move in trying to turn that around when they traded disgruntled striker Ante Razov to the MetroStars for John Wolyniec.
"It is very important to add guy who has proven to score in the league. He is a good, hard-working and blue-collar guy," said Crew coach Greg Andrulis. "He has scored some very important goals for New York."
Many of the mentioned goals have come against the Crew. In fact, no MetroStars player has scored more goals against the Crew than Wolyniec, who has hit for five.
"He has been able to get the job done at critical times. Clearly, we hope he can continue that," said Andrulis.
Wolyniec scored his first MLS goal against the Crew during the 1999 campaign. He scored a last gasp game-winning goal during the 2003 season. Last season, Wolyniec was credited with the game-winner to spoil the Crew's home opener. But to get Wolyniec, the Crew had to give up a MLS stalwart that never completely fit in with Columbus.
Razov was acquired from the Chicago Fire for Tony Sanneh during the winter to fill the attacking presence the Crew missed last year. But after the season opener -- when Razov had a goal and an assist in the 3-0 victory against the Los Angeles Galaxy for his only points as a member of the Black & Gold -- the deal was largely a bust. He had not played in the last three matches for the Crew.
With the addition of Wolyniec, Columbus will have another chance to reinvigorate an under-performing attacking presence. Razov initially fell out of the starting 11 in favor of Trinidad & Tobago international Cornell Glen.
Recently however, Andrulis has opted for Kyle Martino as a withdrawn forward to pair with Edson Buddle. Buddle is the team's leading scorer with three goals, but he has not scored in the last seven games. In those seven games, the Crew have scored only three goals: two from defender Frankie Hejduk and one by rookie Dominic Mediate.
Wolyniec has the talent and attitude to fill a role in the starting lineup or as an energetic substitute.
"I think he can do both very well. It will depend on how things progress with the team," said Andrulis.
With the large amount of changes occurring during the season, the Crew boss suggests that it is going to take some organizing for the squad to be its best.
"I think John is about the fourth or fifth significant addition in the last six weeks. Our transition from the team we were in April to now has been significantly altered," said Andrulis. "It is going to take a little time to get everyone meshed together and figure out what the best role for everybody is."
The Crew have also added Chris Henderson (from the Colorado Rapids), Guatemalan international Mario Rodriguez, Glen and Panamanian U-20 midfielder Luis Gallardo since the season began. However, the changes are not yet done.
"We are trying to get another player signed this week that will give us a bit more experience and depth to the team," said Andrulis.
With the goalkeeping pair Jon Busch and Matt Jordan out due to injuries, Columbus also needs to add a 'keeper to the squad. The move will not be made in time for the weekend match against the Colorado Rapids, and the Crew will have to carry an emergency reserve 'keeper.
The numerous additions to the squad also became necessary with the serious injuries to Busch, Ross Paule and Duncan Oughton.
"With losing guys to season-ending injuries, we have been working incredibly hard to get things rectified," said Andrulis. "We are going to continue to work until we are satisfied with the group and can compete for the MLS Cup."
John Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.