Crew hope to hit gold with former running mate of Aguero
LEWIS CENTER, Ohio – The Columbus Crew have one more international player on their shopping list, and they won't have to go far to find him.
Argentine midfielder Matías Sánchez joined the team on Monday for the first of two indoor sessions before the team heads to Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday for the second phase of preseason training.
While Sánchez has not yet been signed, it's a good possibility the 25-year-old holding midfielder will be the latest addition if all goes well in the practices and likely in at least one preseason match at the Disney Pro Classic. The Crew open the tourney Saturday against Toronto FC.
"We know he has a good résumé, but we have only seen him on DVD, " Columbus head coach Robert Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com. "I am looking forward to seeing him play."
Sánchez spent the past four years with Estudiantes de La Plata in his home country – where he was a teammate of Juan Sebastián Verón's in their 2009 Copa Libertadores win – and is a former Argentine youth international. He was part of the star-studded squad that won the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada, alongside now established stars such as Sergio Agüero, Ángel di María, Ever Banega and Emiliano Insúa.
Crew technical director Brian Bliss said it's unusual to make someone with Sánchez's pedigree try out but that the unexpected departure of Chilean midfielder Milovan Mirosevic last month put the team in quick search of a replacement.
"Because of the late dealing with the Milo situation, we had less time to get a full, detailed scouting report on [Sánchez]," Bliss told MLSsoccer.com "A couple of days in Florida and I think it will be an easier decision for us."
Warzycha said signing Sánchez would complete the major offseason moves.
"He's going to be the last piece if we sign him," he said. "We were trying to bring somebody else. Obviously, that didn't work so we went to plan B."
The roster is starting to come together with the recent signings of Uruguayan defender/midfielder Agustín Viana and Brazilian defender Gláuber, both of whom trained for the first time Monday.
Also, the trade that sent midfielder Dilly Duka and the rights to midfielder Robbie Rogers to Chicago for forward Dominic Oduro was completed Monday.
"With Dominic, we haven't had that kind of speed in awhile, at least since I've been here [since 2008], so you have to pay a price for that," Bliss said. "He's got a record of scoring some goals in this league and he's a known quantity. It was worth it for us."