With the Crew looking to fill 13 spots on the roster, Homegrown signings will be important.
The Crew currently have 17 players under contract after this week's purge. Some may return under new contracts, but the team will have to plug quite a few holes. The Crew Soccer Academy is primed to start producing talent with some highly regarded college players. Three graduating seniors and and an impressive underclassman could fill out the roster as soon as January.
There are only three defenders on the roster and all of them are best at center back. Chad Marshall is a default starter on this team. Josh Williams is likely to be a starter somewhere on the back line, perhaps at right back or center back. Eric Gehrig is likely a backup. Columbus could really use help at the outside positions, but while the CSA has two good defenders in the pipeline, both are center backs.
Matt Wiet is a senior starter for UCLA and has built a very good reputation in college, but will likely require some time to adapt to the pro game. Brian Bliss is very familiar with Wiet with his time with the Crew Academy teams and probably is looking to extend him a deal now that he's used up all of his eligibility.
Chad Barson from Akron is also a senior. Barson has been highly rated by the staff at Top Drawer Soccer, very few people know the college scene as well as they do. He was recently seen as one of eight academy players that could make the jump to the pros by J.R. Eskilson and Travis Clark, Top Drawer's college soccer experts. He was rated as having first round draft pick talent. The Crew will be chasing him.
Another Akron talent is probably the Crew's best prospect. Sophomore Wil Trapp has a fine resume built from his time with the Crew Soccer Academy, Akron's fine program under the departing Caleb Porter, and with the U.S. Soccer Youth National Program. He is seen as one of the best midfielders in the college game and had a fine season in college.
Trapp is a technical defensive midfielder, the Crew are certainly short at that position. Top Drawer Soccer sees him as the other pro ready prospect in the Academy ranks. It's going to bear watching if Trapp feels he can make the jump to the pros and decides that it's time, especially with Porter leaving to the Portland Timbers. Trapp may be ready to fight for playing time if the Crew are able to get him to sign.
The team also can look towards Boston College's starting goalkeeper Justin Luthy. Luthy has been a stalwart between the pipes during his time in Boston. He's not as highly regarded as the team's other prospects, but he would fit in nicely as the Crew's third keeper as Hesmer is primed to move on.
The team should have the resources to bring in a couple of these players. Barson is likely the team's top priority. He's a pro ready prospect that would give instant depth to a thin back line. Surely, Bliss and the rest of the staff would also love to bring Trapp into the fold. He had a fine season in Akron and would quickly compete for minutes. Wiet and Luthy would certainly be prime candidates to come in and be given the chance to develop.
The Crew have three Homegrown players on the roster. Matt Lampson and Ben Speas have already shown that they can step up and play an important part in the Black and Gold kit. With several holes to fill, the coaching staff is likely hoping that they can look local as they check their offseason shopping list.