By: Marco D'Onofrio
Despite the result in the 2015 MLS Cup against the Portland Timbers, it was one of the most exciting seasons in franchise history for the Columbus Crew. Not only did fans get to watch striker, Kei Kamara, chase the Golden
Boot all season long, the club prospered on the pitch and won the right to host the 20th edition of the league's most prestigious match.
Understandably though, Sunday's loss will sting Crew fans for quite a while. They were so close to reaching the pinnacle of Major League Soccer, and on home soil nonetheless. However, with a solid core and a strong foundation, Columbus should be more excited for the future than upset about the past.
Both Designated Player, Federico Higuain, and the aforementioned, Kamara, turned 31-years-old in 2015, but neither one of them missed a beat.
If it hadn't been for Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco having the greatest individual season in league history, Kamara would have been a lock to take home the Landon Donovan MVP award. He finished level with the
Italian scoring 22 goals, and was one of the league's most exciting players to watch throughout the campaign.
Much like Kamara, Higuain will be satisfied with the year he had. The Argentine played in more matches this season than he had in his three previous with the Crew, and his nine assists were a big reason Kamara was able to find the back of the net 22 times.
Along with a strong veteran presence, Columbus also possess a plethora of youthful talent. Justin Meram,
Ethan Finlay, and Will Trapp, are all still in their twenties and made significant contributions to the Crew's on-field success.
It is no secret that the club is currently reaping the rewards of drafting well and developing local talent. Four of the team's starters on Sunday night were either drafted by the franchise or signed to a homegrown contract,
while Portland had just two.
Other teams might be willing to spend massive sums of money to sign internationally recognizable names, the Crew's dedication to consistency and scouting has paid off for them. They may only have one Designated Player and no past World Cup winners on the squad, but they proved themselves to be a cohesive and unified front.
So while the entire organization and its fans will find it difficult to smile for the time being, there is plenty of reason to still be optimistic. Berhalter inspired the Crew all season long, and even after the difficult defeat in the MLS Cup, he refused to give up on his team or his players.
“We’ll be back though," Berhalter ensured. "This team will be back.”