The Crew are heading back to Florida today for extended training and the Walt Disney Classic. By the time the Crew return to Ohio, the roster should be sorted out. Trialists signed or dismissed. Tentative lineup cards filled out in perpetration for the opening game against Chivas USA on March 2nd.
The Crew have 24 players under contract out of a possible 30 and several positional battles remain. Aaron Horton's trial with FK Sarajevo wasn't successful so he's back on the full roster. He has a guaranteed contract for this season, but neither side seems to want him in a Crew uniform this year as Horton's camp is looking for a loan and the team is doing everything they can to make it a reality.
Matias Sanchez is one of the unsigned players on the roster, but is expected to make the team. The team has been looking at him for a while, but wanted a closer look. He's in competition with Kevan George and Agustin Viana for a defensive midfield spot. Brian Bliss and Robert Warzycha says a decision will come as soon as next week on signing the Argentine.
The team has already said they will carry three goalkeepers this year. Andy Gruenebaum and Matt Lampson are in the one and two slot on the depth chart. The competition comes between Daniel Withrow out of Marshall, Hami Kara out of Pittsburgh and Samir Badr. Withrow came to the Crew through the draft. Kara is a free agent who has been with the team since the beginning of Florida training.
Badr is an interesting name. He's a 20 year old Virginaian who had a contract to play with Egyptian team Haras El-Hodood last year before the league shut down. He's bounced around on trials, but hasn't secured a contract in MLS yet.
With a possible four spots remaining, seven players are battling it out. Konrad Warzycha, Drew Beckie, Shawn Sloan, Reed Matte, Kyle Hyland, Jordan Gafa, and Surcan Guvenisik are on the preseason roster.
Guvenisik is the only trialist forward left with the team. A quick recovery and a continued strong showing could help him secure one of the last remaining slots, but Horton's return may push him out.
Beckie, Matte, Gafa, and Hyland are battling to provide depth along the back line. Hyland has played extensively at left back and the Crew are quite thin. Beckie has played at both right back and center back. Gafa is a right back by trade, but was undrafted. The team is still thin out wide and at least one of the draft picks is likely to make the team.
The midfield battle is tight as well. Warzycha and Sloan are playing for perhaps one spot on the team. The Crew could use depth in central midfield which helps Warzycha's chances. Sloan is a winger on a team that has several options there already.
While most of the action will be going on further down the roster, the Sanchez situation bears closest watching. He's the team's biggest hope to solidifying the middle. Signing Beckie, Guvenisik, Warzycha, or Matte likely won't make or break the Crew's season. Sanchez is likely the key to the rest of the team working.