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Crew Keeping it Together Despite Important Absences

This time last season, the Columbus Crew were just "America's Hardest Working Team," always pretty good but hardly ever great. But after a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Houston on Aug. 2, 2008 left its injured/absent/suspended squad seemingly down for the count and a long shot for the playoffs, "America's Most Resilient Team" rallied to become MLS champs.

What a difference a year makes. Almost a year later, playing without both of arguably its two best players in Frankie Hejduk and Guillermo Barros Schellotto for the first time since 2007, the Crew gutted out a 1-0 road win over Colorado to stay atop the East and increase their unbeaten streak to six games (4-0-2).

More impressive than that stint is how the win adds to one of the most successful 12-month marks in MLS history. Since the loss to Houston, Craig Merz notes that the Crew "have suffered only four losses in 31 regular-season matches (16-4-11) and the record is a heavy 19-4-12 in 35 games" if you include their MLS Cup win over the Red Bulls.

"This year everybody knows we have a really good team. Teams were gunning for us and the first seven or eight games caught us off guard," says Eddie Gaven. "But we kept on working and kept on fighting and we're in the spot we want to be right now." What a difference a year makes.

Read the whole story at MLSNet.com »

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