OBETZ, Ohio — Rookie Aubrey Perry has watched not with envy but with anticipation, as the list of players to earn minutes with the first team shrunk after a recent swath of injuries hit the Columbus Crew.
“I’m happy for those guys,” Perry said. “It’s not an anxious thing for me. Everybody who’s been called upon has done well so I’m hoping if my number is called I can do the same.”
Perry, a first-year right back from the University of South Florida, is one of four Columbus players who have not been injured but have yet to see the field this season. The others are rookie goalkeeper Matt Lampson and second-year players defender Korey Veeder and forward Aaron Horton.
WATCH: Perry at the combine
While four fellow rookies and third-year defender Josh Williams have made their MLS debuts, Perry sits behind veteran Sebastián Miranda and others on the depth chart.
“Right now, it’s Miranda,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “I can also play Williams over there. Obviously he has to be better than those two guys.”
Perry is USF’s career leader in games and starts (both 83) so not being part of the lineup has been an adjustment.
“I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself and I wouldn’t want to feel sorry for myself,” he said. “I’m happy the way the team is going.”
He has started all four Reserve League matches and the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup loss to the Dayton Dutch Lions last week.
“Aubrey brings something for sure in his pace and athleticism but he needs to get better at making decisions on the ball and being as good as Seba, who is very calm on the ball and makes good decisions,” assistant coach Mike Lapper said.
“Seba will look for that withdrawn forward coming back and checking it and playing it there. Aubrey will play it down the line for that second forward because that’s the safer ball. ”
Despite the lack of game situations, Lapper said Perry has made steady progress since being the 26th pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.
“I’ve been taking every day to get better just as everyone else here has,” Perry said. “To me, that’s what it’s all about. When you do get opportunities to play you’ve got to give it your all. In practice you have to make sure you’re working because you don’t want the fitness levels to fall behind.”
Warzycha preaches patience to Perry and the others waiting for their chances. He points to second-year midfielder Cole Grossman making his first career start May 23 at Seattle Sounders FC.
“He waited for a year-and-a-half and finally got his shot,” Warzycha said. “He’s proved that even if you’ve not been playing you can step on the field and help the team.”