While it's not going to be Rafa Marquez, the Crew will soon be adding a defender pending approval of league paperwork according to Adam Jardy of the Dispatch. The Crew are also looking to bring back Sebastian Miranda to a more budget friendly deal.
Jardy got a chance to chat with Crew Technical Director Brian Bliss, the message was simple, the Crew are looking to get younger. With the 17 players on the roster, the team's average age is now below 25 years old. Milovan Mirosevic is the only player over 30 currently under contract.
It's no surprise that the Crew are going to keep looking for youthful talent. Homegrown signings and draftees are at the beginning of their careers and perhaps more importantly, relatively inexpensive. This comes with an obvious downside. It can be hard to find a pro ready player, especially at left back and defensive midfielder where the team is likely looking to solidify.
Even clearing out 13 contracts, the team still likely has limited room to work with under the league's budget number. Several Crew players likely got big salary bumps. Federico Higuain's contract will be a max deal given his Designated Player status. Jairo Arrieta probably met some bonuses with his excellent performance since arriving. These eat up free space.
Only two Homegrown player contracts can be off budget, so those contracts will have to come out of the team's salary budget number. Wil Trapp and Chad Barson can likely negotiate substantial contracts for rookies, given how highly they are rated. This leaves any other signing hitting the budget. This goes for all non-Generation Adidas draft picks.
Columbus likely will be trawling the lower leagues to fill out the roster. USL/NASL players are a bargain compared to established MLS veterans or most foreign talent. However, many of these players are unproven. The Crew have had some success with Adam Moffat, Josh Gardner, andTommy Heinemann all coming from the lower leagues and made an impact.
With substantial holes remaining in the team along the back line, at defensive midfield, and on the left wing Bliss, Robert Warzycha, and the rest of the staff will be busy trying to get things set for the 2013 season. They will have to put together a defense that doesn't leak goals while trying to fill out an offense that relies on the magic of Federico Higuain and the industry of Jairo Arrieta and Eddie Gaven. First Kick is less than 90 days away.