‘09 Crew: The Defense
The third best defense from last year comes back intact, led by Chad Marshall. The Crew’s season last year was built of a stout defense that could transition into attack. Nothing changes.
Starting Central Defense – Chad Marshall Richly rewarded with a new contract for a breakthrough season last year. He won defender of the year with stellar weekly performances on both defense and offense. He matched up against some of the top strikers in the league and shut them down. His most impressive skill, aside from his ferocious headers, outstanding positioning, and strength, is the way he uses his legs. He can front a striker and toe poke the ball away. He is nimble enough to get in front of a shot. He is the total package. Enjoy him while he is here.
Danny O’Rourke He suffered from a rough start, giving up repeated penalties and dangerous free kicks as he struggled to adapt to his new central defenders role. He settled in under the tutelage of Chad Marshall to form a very effective pairing. His quickness was always an asset, but as he developed better positioning and decision making, his game really improved.
Starting Left Back – Gino Padula The last piece of the championship team really solidified the only weak spot on the Crew. The Argentinean joined at the beginning of the 2008 season, but struggled to regain fitness and overcome a couple of leg injuries. Once fit, Padula was a tireless and cerebral defender. He could even match up against faster players, using his veteran guile. Even being another year older, Padula gives the Crew a very good defensive left back.
Starting Right Back – Frankie Hejduk The tireless leader by example. Even at 34 he will run end to end for 90 plus minutes. He has also added a veteran savvy to his game. He no longer throws himself into as many poor tackles and picks his spots to overlap a little better. He really shows no signs of slowing down.
The Reserves – Andy Iro The second year pro improved throughout the year, providing great depth in central defense. He is deceptively quick for his size.
Jed Zayner The third year pro is finally healthy, but maddeningly inconsistent. He shows some pretty good one on one skills, but shockingly bad decision making when playing out of the back at times.
Eric Brunner The just acquired Brunner is another big player at home in central defense. He had a very good reputation in college, but was part of a roster squeeze in New York last year.