After draft, Crew still have plenty of work

COLUMBUS – Trips to South America late last year have produced one signee so far — Chilean defender Sebastian Miranda — and several other internationals are expected to trial either in Columbus or later in Arizona.

However, the Crew chiefs will hit the road again.

Technical director Brian Bliss told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday that he and head coach Robert Warzycha will be in England next week to “to take a look at this kid in the central part of the midfield. If he does something close to what the video shows us, this might be our guy to fill that spot.”

Bliss said the player is on a Premier League roster but could join the Crew soon if a deal is struck.

“My understanding was there’s an indication the club will let him go,” he said. “He has six months remaining on his deal but they would do the guy a favor.”

The Crew will also be busy trying to finalize agreements with Leandre Griffit to return for a second season. They'll also look to add 2010 draft pick Kwaku Nyamekye to the roster in time for the start of training camp on Jan. 20.

Also, unsigned forward Jeff Cunningham remains a possibility.

All four college players selected in Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft are expected to arrive in Columbus shortly to begin their pro careers.

With MLS rosters expanding by six to 30 due in part to the resumption of the reserve league after a two-year hiatus, every draftee has a good shot of making the team.

[inline_node:326472]Two years ago midfielder Alex Grendi was the lone pick while only Shaun Francis and Dilly Duka (a Generation adidas product) made it through this past season after the 2010 draft.

There are plenty of open spots because nine players from last year’s club are not returning. The latest to leave was forward Steven Lenhart, who was dealt to San Jose for allocation money and the Earthquakes’ pick (15th overall) in Thursday’s SuperDraft.

The Crew then selected Michigan forward Justin Meram.

“He goes after defenders,” Warzycha said. “He’s a little bit different player than [Lenhart].”

The offseason has seen the Crew shed one their all-time best players (Guillermo Barros Schelotto), their longest tenured (Duncan Oughton), their captain (Frankie Hejduk) and one of the most popular (Lenhart).

“It’s hard to take the emotion out of it,” Bliss said. “You’ve to make the hard choices and hope the new choices you make will work out for you.”

Who will become the locker room leaders now remains a big question.

“There are going to have to now be some guys who assume the role and say ‘This is my team, this is my locker room’ instead of deferring to some of the guys we let go,” Bliss said.

He felt the team had become complacent.

“I would enjoy a little bit more streakiness or nastiness in the locker room,” he said, “because maybe there was too much ‘Hey, you’re my buddy and forget that. We’re cool.’ ”


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