The futures of Jairo Arrieta, Glauber and Danny O'Rourke still hang in the balance as the Columbus Crew decide what to do with the players who had their contract options declined. In November, head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter said that the club would talk to all players about returning, but now it seems unlikely that all will be back, even at a reduced cost.
“We're beginning discussions [with all three], and there's no real progress, but with all three of them we're able to have open dialogue,” Berhalter told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Tuesday. “So I think we'll be able to come to a conclusion on them rather soon.”
Despite the uncertainty, Berhalter says that it seems that all three players want to return to the club. Arrieta, for example, has continued to discuss “the possibility” of re-signing with the Crew on Twitter, especially after the club's signing of fellow Costa Rican Waylon Francis last week.
To all my friends in Ohio wondering about my future @ColumbusCrew: we started a negociation process and we hope to secure a deal.— Jairo Arrieta Obando (@JairoArrieta25) November 22, 2013
“I think that's what we're hearing from all three of them, and that’s great news and speaks highly of the organization,” Berhalter said. “It's just seeing how they fit into plans based on the financial situation and performance.”
Veteran goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum and journeyman winger Dominic Oduro face their own uncertainty as the last two out-of-contract Crew players from 2013. Berhalter echoed his “optimistic” sentiments throughout November, but seemed to take a step back.
“Like any negotiations, there are good days and there are bad days,” he said. “We're working through it all, but I think we'll find resolutions in both situations ... We'll position ourselves to do the right thing for the club moving forward, whatever that is.”
The Crew also selected former MLS pool goalkeeper Brad Stuver in the MLS waiver draft Nov. 25. But despite Stuver's addition as the third 'keeper on the Crew roster, Berhalter says it won't affect the potential of Gruenebaum making it four.
“I wouldn't say that's too much of an issue,” Berhalter said. “We want to go into preseason with four goalkeepers, so I wouldn't look into that either way. We want guys that are going to be competing for positions, whether it's the number one spot, the number two spot or the number three spot. By adding Brad Stuver, we can do that.”
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Last week, the Crew did manage to re-sign young defender Josh Williams, the first of the club's trio of out-of-contract players to rejoin the club.
Berhalter was happy to have secured a deal with the 25-year-old, and said that the two sides were in agreement on Williams' future.
“He was eager to stay, and we were eager to keep him, so it worked out nicely,” Berhalter said. “He's a player who I think has a bright future, and it's going to be fun working with him.”