COLUMBUS - It wasn't that long ago when the Columbus Crew were starting a rookie goalkeeper and relied on the league to provide a second netminder to back up Bill Gaudette and play in the reserve matches. But much has changed since late May when Jon Busch went down for the season with an injury to his right knee and now the club boasts a strong contingent of talent between the pipes.
After Gaudette started five games, the Crew acquired Jonny Walker for the MetroStars. Walker has been nothing short of brilliant in his 16 matches for the Crew, with the second-best goals against average in the league despite playing for the Eastern Conference bottom feeders.
"Jonny Walker was one of our brightest spots this season," said interim coach Robert Warzycha.
Even though Walker has been one of the best 'keepers in MLS during his stint with the Crew, Columbus decided to give Matt Jordan an opportunity at the end of the season.
"It was my idea to play Matt Jordan the last two games," said Warzycha.
In his first start of the 2005 season and just his second appearance for the Crew in two seasons, the former Dallas standout kept his squad in the match last Saturday with a number of fine saves, including stopping a penalty kick by the Fire's Jesse Marsch that kept the game scoreless early in an eventual 2-1 Crew win.
Last and most certainly not least, Jon Busch is in the midst of recovering from his early season knee injury. Busch is thus far happy with his road to recovery.
"Last Friday was four and half months," said the 2004 All-Star. "We have been catching for a couple weeks but added the footwork in this week. I am just working on getting the strength back."
While Busch is looking forward to getting completely healthy, he sees no reason to hurry back too quickly.
"There have been no setbacks, but right now we are still taking it slow," said Busch. "There is nothing to rush back for."
Still, Busch anticipates no problems with being fully prepared for the beginning of the 2006 campaign.
"I'll be back to full training by the first of December," said the Crew's all-time shutout leader. "I'll spend the whole offseason doing my normal training schedule."
John Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.