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Questions around Columbus Crew Stadium this morning

Newcastle United v Columbus Crew - Pre Season Friendly

COLUMBUS, OH - JULY 26: Head coach Robert Warzycha of the Columbus Crew walks on to the field before a game against Newcastle United FC on July 26, 2011 at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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The little question around the Columbus Crew following last night’s 3-2 loss to D.C. United, which eliminated the club from 2012 playoff contention, centers around Chad Marshall. In two words: what happened?

Marshall, a former two-time MLS Defender of the Year, reported an ankle injury Thursday morning, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Manager Robert Warzycha seemed as confused about it as everyone else about a previously unrecognized ailment. What the coach told the Dispatch:

It popped up Thursday morning at practice. He was getting treatment and we thought everything was going to be OK but today when he came to the stadium he went on the field but he was in too much pain.”

When the Crew’s veteran, unquestioned leader in the back could not pass a pre-game fitness test last night at RFK Stadium, he was scratched from the lineup for a game in which the Crew absolutely had to get a draw at very least.

So, that one deserves some further looking-into.

But it pales next to the big issue around Columbus Crew Stadium, which is Warzycha’s status.

The former Polish international took over for Sigi Schmid before the 2009 season, when Schmid left for Seattle just weeks after bringing the MLS Cup to Ohio.

Columbus won the Supporters Shield that year, raising hope that some kind of real Columbus run of hardware may be at hand. It’s safe to say that was the high point of Warzycha’s time in charge. Because in Warzycha’s first playoff game in charge, a controversial coaching decision (the manager left his top player on the bench to open a playoff series against Real Salt Lake) went dreadfully wrong. The Crew fell in the first round.

Columbus reached the playoffs in each of the next two seasons, but has yet to win a series and move past the opening round.

This year, with no playoff action at all, the trend is clearly going in the wrong direction.

Warzycha signed a multi-year extension just last year, so economics with the famously frugal Hunt Sports Group will certainly be in play in this choice.

And that’s assuming there is a decision to make at all. HSG tends to be fairly conservative in its actions. So, in all honesty, this one could swing either way. The team does not appear to be going in a positive direction – but history says status quo my rule nonetheless.