Brian Bliss said on Friday that the Columbus Crew needed to see Matias Sanchez before they signed him. He announced on his twitter feed on Saturday that he was boarding a plane for Ohio. He then sent out an update he landed around noon on Sunday.
That's a quick turnaround. More likely the Crew had lined up a quick trial for Sanchez and Friday's comment by Bliss was his way of saying that they would know in short order if he's fit for the kit.
Sanchez has a long history with Estudiantes, appearing in 94 games since joining the team in 2008 from Racing Club. He was part of the resurgent Estudiantes club that won the 2009 Copa Libertadores, claimed the 2010 Apertura, and lost in extra time to Barcelona in the 2009 Club World Cup. He was also part of the 2007 U-20 World Cup winning team.
The Argentine has seen his playing time diminish under newly installed manager Diego Cagna. He and the club came to an agreement to terminate to his contract during the summer break last month. Sanchez is now free to find a new club.
Sanchez comes with a solid defensive reputation. He's played defensive midfield and right back for club and country, however he's most comfortable screening the defense in midfield. His 30 minute YouTube highlight video shows a player who is comfortable snuffing out attacks and looking for an outlet to spur the counter.
The Crew could definitely use a player who can hold down the defensive midfield spot. The first choice player is currently second year player Kevan George while Danny O'Rourke recovers from another injury. Sanchez won't be an offensive juggernaut, given he's scored two goals in 140 Argentine Primera games, but he will provide a screen for the defense, recover the ball, and recycle it to the offense.
Sanchez's arrival would also restore more balance to the team. The dual central midfielder setup that Warzycha used last year suffered from a lack of definition when certain personelle were in the lineup. O'Rourke was a stay at home defender, but Chris Birchall often pressed more forward. The now departed Milovan Mirosevic would be the other central midfielder, but pushed forward often. This left the side a little unbalanced at times.
Now, Sanchez or O'Rourke would stay at home, providing that defensive cover, while Tchani would play the more offensive position, pressing forward. Both players would have clearer defined roles.
Signing Sanchez would nearly complete the Crew's offseason "To-Do" list. The defense has been revamped and the team added a bit more scoring punch, but they were missing someone in the center after Mirosevic's departure. In Sanchez, the Crew hope they have a player that can control the game, but from a defensive standpoint. Its something that they have lacked since the departure of Brian Carroll.