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Eric Gehrig: Filling a Need

Gehrig has stepped up when asked. It's unclear that the team has the same needs.

Jonathan Ferrey

Eric Gehrig was another player who took a step forward this year. He was able to fill in early in the year when the defense was decimated with injuries. Gehrig earned 12 appearances, making 8 starts and nearly doubling his minutes played after playing 8 games with 4 starts in 2011.

Gehrig was slated to be the fifth center back behind Chad Marshall, Danny O'Rourke, Julius James, and Carlos Mendes coming into the season. Injuries to James and Mendes pushed him up the depth chart and O'Rourke's reoccuring injuries led him to get his first start against Toronto in late March.

After winning player of the game plaudits in the Crew's 1-0 win in Toronto, he started the team's 4-1 debacle, getting manhandled by Kenny Cooper then followed it up with a struggling performance where he was called for a penalty, giving Philadelphia the only goal of the game.

Gehrig would earn a couple of games on the bench as Josh Williams would his first starts of his career. Gehrig would get another chance as Marshall came up with concussion like symptoms that kept him out of action for 8 games. Gehrig lost his starting spot as soon as Mendes was healthy. He would make two further starts and a handful of substitution appearances the rest of the year.

Gehrig isn't a supremly athletic defender like Williams. He defends through reading the game and hard work. Given his middling pace, he's a liability at outside back, but has shown in the past he can play defensive midfield.

Final Grade - 4: He's an inexpensive player with that can step up in a pinch. It's clear that Robert Warzycha has plenty of options he prefers more in defense which muddles his 2013 roster status.