As the international transfer window opened, the Crew waived defenders Shaun Francis, Aubrey Perry and Korey Veeder today. The team was expected to make moves with the semi-guaranteed contracts deadline looming.
Francis is the biggest name to be leaving. He appeared in 10 games this year, starting six, but he soon lost his starting position to recent addition Nemanja Vukovic. With Francis eating up a listed $44,100 of guaranteed salary, and perhaps more important, an international roster slot, the team felt they couldn't hold on to him as a backup. He finished his Crew career with 28 games, 21 of them starts. He hadn't scored a goal, but he did tally four assists in his 3 year career with the team.
Perry and Veeder were reserves who hadn't appeared in a league game during their tenure. Veeder had come to the team via a weighted lottery in 2011 and Perry was a 2nd round draft pick in this year's MLS SuperDraft. Veeder hadn't been able to beat out Josh Williams or Eric Gehrig to move up the depth chart and was scheduled to make $45,875 in guaranteed salary. Perry had played in this year's Open Cup game and six reserve matches, but wasn't impressive. The move will free up part of his rookie minimum $33,750.
These moves put the Crew roster at 28 active players, with William Hesmer and Rich Balchan both on the injured list. Tom Heinemann is out for the year with an injury but hasn't formally placed on the season ending injured list.
The picayune MLS roster rules may give the Crew a little more budget flexibility. Veeder and Perry were Off Budget roster players and likely in the "Apprentice Roster" group. MLS allows for a team to leave two of these slots vacant and use the money in other ways. The MLS Roster Rules are unclear if that means even if the move was during the season.
Clubs may elect to leave up to two of these roster spots (25-30) vacant and use $35,000 for each empty spot as allocation money.
If the Crew does get a prorated allocation, then they have further budget flexibility. I've asked for further information regarding the interpretation of this rule and will provide an update when available.
This now gives the Crew much more roster flexibility and may mean the Crew are close to sealing a deal with a Designated Player. A DP would likely take an international roster slot; waiving Francis of course frees one up. He however could have been waived in the post July 1 date, but either the front office is confident a deal will get done or really needed that small measure of cap relief if a deal does happen. Either way, by making the cuts now, the FO is betting on bringing in someone during the now open transfer window.