Columbus Crew SC

The Columbus Crew had a fantastic season in 2015, finishing with the Eastern Conference's second best record and making the MLS Cup Final. They didn't win, but last season was the opening of their championship window, not the closing.

Three Crew players broke into the U.S. national team over the last year -- Wil Trapp, Tony Tchani and Ethan Finlay. Key veterans like Kei Kamara, Federico Higuain and Michael Parkhurst are still in Columbus. Nothing's broken, so the Crew's leadership has opted nothing needs fixing. A small handful of new recruits replace a similarly small handful of departed role players, but this is basically the same team as last season. That's a good thing.

2015 record 15-11-8, 2nd place in Eastern Conference

2015 Playoffs MLS Cup Finalist

Key additions Emil Larsen, Amro Tarek, Ola Kamara

Key losses Jack McInerney, Emanuel Pogatetz, Kristinn Steindorsson, Chris Klute

Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1) Steve Clark; Harrison Afful, Michael Parkhurst, Gaston Sauro, Waylon Francis; Wil Trapp, Tony Tchani; Ethan Finlay, Federico Higuain, Justin Meram; Kei Kamara

Q&A with Patrick Murphy, Massive Report

Why should a new fan support this team?

After a run to the MLS Cup Final a year ago, there is no time like the present to jump on the Crew SC (you better believe we're using the "SC") bandwagon. Head coach Gregg Berhalter has the team not only playing winning soccer, but attractive soccer that even non-MLS fans are enjoying. If you want to cheer for an exciting team that is built to win for the next several seasons and isn't one of the major markets, the Black and Gold should be your team.

Our season hinges on...

Defense. Last year Crew SC conceded 53 goals, second-most among the 12 teams who qualified for the postseason. But only three of those goals came over the final five games of the regular season. The back line went through a lot of changes throughout 2015, but by season's end Gaston Sauro and Harrison Afful were acquired and established themselves as featured players on the defense. This year they will be with the team from the start and that should help what was a leaky defense for much of last season.

Who will use MLS to break into their national team?

While these three players have already made their U.S. National Team debut, Wil Trapp, Ethan Finlay, and Tony Tchani could use this season to go from just January camp players to guys who receive regular call-ups. Trapp and Tchani run the center of the midfield for the Black and Gold and if they stay healthy, they will continue that partnership this season. Finlay showed last year that 2014 wasn't just a fluke, but rather the way he can play at the MLS level. All three players will be important for Crew SC this year and there's no doubt that Jurgen Klinsmann will have his eye on Gregg Berhalter's team this season.

What we're scared of derailing our season

If there's anything that can hurt this team this year it's complacency. It's weird to say because Crew SC hasn't won anything, but it's been the same group of players for the last two seasons and you have to hope guys aren't getting bored. The new additions will provide a spark and add some new feel to the team, but if things begin to go south for a team that didn't lose more than two games in a row last year, you can bet it has something to do with players in the locker room not bringing their game as consistently as they have recently.