In soccer, the goalkeeper is like a coach on the field.

“Part of being a goalkeeper is barking out orders and you’ve got to be louder than everyone,” Columbus Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer said.

He is in charge of directing the team’s defense and setting up its offense with goal kicks and throws.

Hesmer, now in his fifth season as the Crew’s starting goalkeeper, is off to a hot start in 2011. Through 10 games, he is allowing an average of only one goal per contest and has had four shutouts, putting him on pace to break his career high of 10.

“That’s a reflection of the team,” he said of his performance so far. “For the most part, we have done a terrific job of team-defending and making it difficult for other teams to break us down.”

After losing several key players in the offseason, such as defender Frankie Hejduk and offensive maestro Guillermo Barros Schelotto, coach Robert Warzycha said Hesmer has increased his role as a team leader.

“Losing so many players from last year, he is one of the guys that is leading the team,” Warzycha said. “His good performance is very important to us.”

As successful as Hesmer and the Crew defense have been so far, the offense has struggled during the first two months of the season. Columbus is in last place in the MLS in scoring, averaging 0.8 goals per game.

Strong performances by Hesmer and Co. during the first month and a half of the season, including a streak of four straight shutouts, made up for the team’s offensive struggles. The Crew recorded a seven-game streak without a loss from March 26 to May 7.

At that point, the team had 13 points and was tied for fifth in the 18-team league.

However, the team has gone goalless in its past two matches and has yet to win a game in May. It fell into a tie for 10th place in the league.

Warzycha said there’s one thing his team needs to do: score goals.

“It is as simple as that,” he said.

The Crew will look to rebound against Chivas USA at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at home.