COLUMBUS, Ohio – Last year, the Columbus Crew used the Re-Entry Process to add veteran defender Carlos Mendes. This year, they may use it to add a similar experienced player or two if the situation arises.
It's no secret the team is thin on the defense with only Eric Gehrig, Chad Marshall and Josh Williams under contract for 2103.
Marshall is a lock at center back – as long as he's healthy – and, while there are players such as young midfielders Bernardo Añor and Ethan Finlay, who are being tested at left and right back, respectively, the Crew are seeking players with pedigree for each spot.
"We have to be good at the start [of the season] and solve everything that we can," coach Robert Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com this week. “I would say definitely we would look to somebody outside the team to fill those positions.”
"I think we also have guys on the team that can play but they might take more time of getting those positions. The preseason will be a pretty good indication whether they are good enough for those positions or not."
Technical director Brian Bliss says Columbus will actively pursue players through Friday's Stage 1 Re-Entry Draft and the second stage on Dec. 14 – if the price is right, of course.
"Last year, it proved to be a good mechanism and I think we'll be as aggressive this year," Bliss told MLSsoccer.com. "We're picking ninth, which is where we picked last year. If there's something there we think can help us, a la Mendes, we'd be quite happy to grab somebody. We've got a chance to find guys who can help us right away."
The Crew may also seek help in the offseason to bolster the depth at forward where experience is lacking behind Jairo Arrieta and Federico Higuaín. The team released Tommy Heinemann and Olman Vargas, and Emilio Rentería may not return, leaving only Justin Meram, rookies Aaron Schoenfeld and Ben Speas and Homegrown player Aaron Horton, who has appeared in one regular-season game in two seasons, heading into 2013.
"It would be nice to have another experienced forward who can bring competition," Warzycha said. "Maybe the guy we get is in the league already."