Crew stay focused on South America, trying to move Duka

Agustín Viana, Bella Vista jersey

Photo Credit: 
Observador

The Columbus Crew are keeping their eyes firmly fixed on South America in their effort to build a playoff-caliber roster following a disappointing 2012.

A week after signing Brazilian central defender Gláuber, the Crew announced on Monday that they came to terms with American-born Uruguayan defender/midfielder Agustín Viana (above).

Viana, 29, might be given a chance to nail down the left back spot, but he could also step in as a lockdown midfielder.

"He's a box-to-box guy who also plays left back," Crew technical director Brian Bliss told MLSsoccer.com of his latest signing. "We can put him [as a holding midfielder] and have him fight it out with Tony Tchani and Danny O'Rourke and those guys because he can get up and down the field."

Viana, who was born in Chicago and holds dual citizenship, comes to the Crew from Uruguayan Primera División side Bella Vista, where he started in all 15 of the club’s matches during the Apertura 2012 campaign. He's also played professionally in Greece, Italy, Romania and Brazil.

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Meanwhile, Columbus continue to negotiate with Argentine defensive midfielder Matías Sánchez.

"We're back and forth on some of the details," Bliss said. "Hopefully we can nail this thing down. They always take longer than you think."

Sánchez could be the latest piece of the revamping as the Crew continue to put last season's first playoff miss since 2007 behind them.

"You can't stand pat," Bliss said. "We weren't happy at the end of the season not making the playoffs."

The Crew have made wholesale changes in defense by parting with left back Nemanja Vukovic, center backs Julius James and Carlos Mendes and right back Sebastián Miranda. Central midfielder Milovan Mirosevic was also released.

"I'm looking for central midfield stability and a strong spine," team president Mark McCullers explained to MLSsoccer.com.

That begins with defense and to that end, the Crew have added Tyson Wahl, who can play both centrally and on the left, Homegrown right back Chad Barson and unsigned SuperDraft pick Drew Beckie, who plays centrally  or on the right.

Duka's status remains unresolved

The Crew are also working on a deal to send midfielder Dilly Duka to Chicago, Bliss confirmed, but the process has been slower than anticipated. Duka was told last week to stay home in New Jersey instead of reporting to Columbus.

"I thought we would have something done by now," Bliss said. "I'm not trying to absolve myself or the Crew for that matter for anything we can really do on the deal but it is truly out of our hands. It's between the league and Chicago and Dilly and his agent in terms of figuring out the best scenario to make it work for everybody."

Recent reports had Columbus receiving forward Dominic Oduro in exchange for the 23-year-old. Bliss wouldn't comment on the negotiations.

"I will say this," Bliss added. "If this thing doesn't go through with the team we're dealing with, then the next call will be to Dilly that he will have to pack his stuff up and head out to Columbus again."