Crew Back Line Still Down to Three

Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

Mendes and Miranda won't be returning to the Crew in 2013

Carlos Mendes returned home to sign with the New York Cosmos and Brian Bliss isn't in communication with Sebastian Miranda according to a conversation with Adam Jardy. The Crew defense is even more unsettled than right after the season.

Mendes was a consistent pro that was hampered by injuries during his one season with the team. He played 12 games, but was a solid presence in central defense when he did get to play. It was obvious that Mendes didn't cover as much ground as other players on the back line, but he was rarely beaten and put his passes exactly where he wanted. It was a sign that the veteran had adapted to his declining physical skills to still be a good player.

While not official, Miranda won't be returning. At 32, it appears that his overseas adventure is over and he's likely looking to return to his native Chile. The dependable Miranda started 67 of a possible 68 games during his tenure with the Crew at right back. He was outstanding in 2011, but did slip a little bit in 2012. Still a very solid right back, the team declined his option number that likely pushed his salary above $150,000. That's a considerable pay day to a player with declining skills.

The Crew has coverage for both Mendes and Miranda in the starting lineup but it's the same player, Josh Williams. Williams played his best soccer at center back this year and should be the starter at center back. The team also likes the effort he put in at left back, even if the result was far less even. The right footed Williams can swap to the other side of the defense to play right back. It's a position that he's played once during his career.

Columbus may be adding two home grown defenders in the coming weeks. Chad Barson and Matt Weit have offers on the table; both are central defenders. Realistically, the Crew should be looking for a natural right back to better use Williams' skills. This is in addition to the left back the team has already said they are looking for.

It's certainly understandable that the Crew decided to decline Miranda's option and Mendes is a New Yorker at heart, but these decisions means that the team lacks back line help as the offseason trundles on.

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