Crew check off O'Rourke as locking up defense a priority

Danny O'Rourke

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Columbus Crew took another important step in shoring up a thin backline with Monday's re-signing of Danny O'Rourke.

"We wanted to get it done," Crew technical director Brian Bliss told MLSsoccer.com. "He wanted to get it done. It's been our intent all along to get something on paper, but we've had to get some other things worked out first."

Those included the re-signing of midfielder Tony Tchani two weeks ago and signing Homegrown midfielder Wil Trapp late last week.

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O'Rourke, 29, is only the fourth defender under contract for 2013, joining Chad Marshall, Eric Gehrig and Josh Williams.

"Obviously that's an area where we're concentrating a lot of our efforts this offseason," Crew president Mark McCullers told MLSsoccer.com last week.

One defender who likely won't be back is right back Sebastián Miranda, who started all but one match over the past two seasons but had his optioned declined by the club.

Still, Bliss held hope a new deal more amenable to the salary cap could be made.

"We extended an offer before or right after he left [for his home in Chile]," Bliss said. "He chewed on it a little bit and talked to his agent. Right now, there is no signed document.

"I don't like to use deadlines, but in our conversations with his agent via e-mail we hinted around to the fact we can't sit around forever and if there is a decision we need it as soon as possible."

On the other hand, there was little uncertainty in pursuing a contract with O'Rourke. The Crew liked his leadership and the fact he can play anywhere in the back and as a defensive midfielder, though he's been held back by injuries – the Columbus native played 21 games last season but only six in 2011.

READ: 2012 In Review: Columbus Crew

With O'Rourke – who will be returning for his seventh season in Columbus – in the fold again, the Crew have their sights set on re-signing forward Emilio Rentería, who is out of contract and is looking outside MLS for employment.

"We've made it clear that we want him back," coach Robert Warzycha recently told MLSsoccer.com."Sometimes other teams are more aggressive and have more money."