Crew hope Finlay will add to new offensive impetus

It’s no surprise the Columbus Crew have used this offseason looking for players that can create or score goals.

Having already added attacking players Milovan Mirosevic and Olman Vargas earlier this month, Columbus used the 10th overall pick in Thursday's MLS SuperDraft to select Creighton University forward/midfielder Ethan Finlay. The Hermann Trophy finalist scored 43 career goals and had a hat trick during the MLS Combine.

The lively attacker was pleased to be joining a team that suits his style of soccer. 

“I’m excited to be coming to a team that’s made some changes but fits my style of play,” Finlay told MLSsoccer.com.

With Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers close to sealing a move to Leeds United, pending work permit approval, Finlay could have an immediate opportunity to showcase what he can do on the flank.

“We’ll see,” Finlay said. “I like playing on the right because I think I can swing a ball better with my right foot and I can cut in a strike with the left.”

Crew coach Robert Warzycha said creating more goal-scoring opportunities continued to be a priority, thus the Finlay selection.

“We have to have the players who have the quality to get assists or goals,” he said. “In the past — on the statistic line — we didn’t have too many goal or assists. That’s going to have to change. To be successful, we are going to have to score goals. That’s what people are coming to the stadium to see.”

When the Crew won MLS Cup 2008, they scored 50 goals in 30 regular-season matches (1.66 per game) but that number dropped to 43 in 34 games (1.26) last season. The addition of Finlay, along with Mirosevic and Vargas, will aim to transform Columbus into an offensive powerhouse and fill the void left by Designated Player Andrés Mendoza, who scored 13 times in 2011 but will not be back with the Crew in 2012.

The Crew brought in two more exciting prospects with their later picks, using the 26th pick to add South Florida right back Aubrey Perry and rounding out their SuperDraft activity by selecting Central Florida defensive midfielder Kevan George with the 29th overall pick.

Technical director Brian Bliss said the Crew filled two needs in the draft: in the center of midfield and down the flank in George and Finlay, respectively.

Bliss also voiced his delight at picking up Perry.

“We knew Aubrey Perry because he played with our [Crew Soccer Academy] 20s in 2010,” said Bliss. “He was the pick that, ‘He’s the best guy at that position right now so let’s take him.’ as opposed to pigeonholing a spot that we particularly needed to fill. We’re very happy with all three guys because all three can play and help us.”