The offseason started today with the Crew's 1-0 loss against the New England Revolution. There is no head coach, but the team will have to get down to business addressing the roster. The team will have to make decisions on player contract options and tendering offers to current Crew players approaching the end of their contracts.
When asked after the game, Crew technical director and interim head coach Brian Bliss how the team will decide he was direct with his criteria.
You look at the eight games, but you've also got to look at the overall body of work over a guy's tenure here whether it's been two years, 18 months, three years, that's what we're going to make decisions on.
Bliss also elaborated on the difficulty facing the Crew in the weeks and months ahead navigating the team through the hoops of MLS roster rules.
We've been pushing the salary cap almost every year to try and keep a core of guys together, and you know what? We're running out of time, we're running out of money, and there's going to have to be some serious decisions made in order to get underneath the cap. Those are hazards of the salary cap. All of that will play into deciding who stays, who goes, what guys we'll try to acquire.
Many of these are the problems all MLS teams face, but the Crew appeared to be especially hamstrung by their salary budget woes. Columbus was the only team not to make a move during the summer transfer window. The last player move the Crew made was to sign up backup goalkeeper Daniel Withrow on March 7th. They could not make any moves even after Eddie Gaven and Glauber went down with season ending injuries before the summer transfer window even opened.
There will certainly be roster turnover, but Bliss' comments point to a significant shakeup on some of the top of the roster, including core players. Designated Player Federico Higuain isn't going anywhere as he has a guaranteed contract through 2014 with team options in 2015 and 2016, but there are other players where the math is much more complex. Glauber, Chad Marshall, Matias Sanchez, and Jairo Arrieta all make over $200 thousand. The Crew also have Danny O'Rourke and Eddie Gaven approaching that number.
Needing breathing room with salary, Bliss, Mark McCullers, and the new coaching staff will have to quickly decide which of the current core is no longer indispensable. Long serving players such as O'Rourke, Gaven, andMarshall have injury histories that muddy any appraisal of their value to the team. Performance questions follow around Arrieta and Sanchez after less than stellar seasons.
The Crew likely will have to cut some of the bigger names on the roster after the latest salary increases hit. The budget will go up, but not enough to cover raises. That makes a tight situation even tighter.