The long offseason for the Columbus Crew is more than halfway over, and fans’ attention has turned to this week’s MLS SuperDraft, scheduled to take place Thursday in Baltimore.
The Crew enter the draft in the midst of one of the biggest rebuilding efforts in their history, with a total of nine players having left the team since their first-round playoff exit to the Colorado Rapids. Among them are former league MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto, team captain Frankie Hejduk, and stalwart defensive midfielder Brian Carroll. Measured in terms of minutes played, the Crew have lost nearly 40% of last year’s team.
To fill these gaps, the team has recently acquired a pair of players, with several others in various stages of negotiations. The highest profile addition so far has been Chilean defender Sebastian Miranda, who is projected as the starting right back. Also new is forward Tom Heinemann, who signed last week after two years with Charleston and Carolina. A trio of players are in various stages of negotiations; French midfielder Leandre Griffit – who played sporadically last season before being asked to renegotiate his contract – has reportedly been made an offer, as has Swiss defender Kwaku Nyamekye. The two players taken in last month’s Re-Entry Draft, meanwhile – forward Jeff Cunningham and defender Aaron Hohlbein – are looking increasingly unlikely to join the team this season. Other signings are reportedly in the works, but the team has kept the details on their identies secret.
With rosters set to expand to 30 players for the 2011 season, Columbus finds itself after all the turnover with only 17 players under contract. Using salary and cap information from last year, the team seems to have almost a million dollars in cap space with which to sign players.
It is in this context, then, that the Crew’s scouts are attending this week’s player combine, looking for players to fill the numerous gaps on the depth chart.
The following is a projected depth chart, assuming that coach Robert Warzycha does not make significant tactical changes: (projected starter in bold)
ROGERS ekpo EKPO
gaven BURNS renteria
o’rourke IRO MARSHALL o’rourke
o’rourke o’rourke williams
williams williams burns
Please note that Leandre Griffit and Kwaku Nyamekye have not been included in this chart as their signing has not been officially announced.
Do you think this depth chart is accurate? What do you think the Crew should do with their first round draft pick (12th overall)? Should they try to move up via trade, or hope that a marquee player falls into their lap?
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