The Crew has solidified some early question marks in the first day MLS rosters became unfrozen. This week the Crew have added four more players to the roster, three are familiar names. Defender Josh Williams re-signed with the team. The team brought in defender Matt Wiet on a home grown contact, picked goalkeeper Brad Stuver in the Waiver Draft, and officially signed Costa Rican left back Waylon Francis.
Williams has been an emerging talent on defense. He's played all three spots on the back line, holding down the right back spot throughout much of the 2013 season. He played in 27 games, starting 25. He also tallied a career high three goals.
Williams has earned his new contract with steady play since breaking through in 2012. The deal should greatly improve on his rookie contract that earned him $52,313 in his final year. He is also now at a crossroads for his development. Williams impressed early on as a center back before being pushed left. He was solid during the 2012 season, but it was clear he was out of position.
In 2013 he was the opening day starter at right back. He was a danger on set pieces, but struggled when asked to push forward. Williams also struggled when asked to slot into the middle of the back line after the injury to Glauber. Now going into this third year as a starter, Williams will have to develop consistency and polish to his defensive technique. Finding a permanent spot on defense would aid in his development.
The Crew's Costa Rican import isn't looking for his best position. It's clear he's a left back. Waylon Francis is a left footed speedster who is likely expected to vie for a starting job. Columbus cycled between Tyson Wahl and Agustin Viana, but Francis, 23, can be the team's left back of the present and future.
The Black and Gold's other moves are definitely geared toward the future. UCLA product Matt Wiet graduated last summer, but signed with the Dayton Dutch Lions. He played four games before tearing his ACL against the Crew in the second USL-Pro v. MLS game. Wiet went through college collecting plenty of individual honors, but struggled a little more his senior year. He'll be recovering through summer, but will add to the depth at the central back position once healthy.
The Crew now have built solid depth on the back line. Francis will compete for a starting spot at left back with Viana and Wahl also available. Williams can either slot into right back or central back. He joins Chad Barson as options on the right or becomes a possible starter at center back. Wiet has played centrally and can play on the right, providing more depth.
Stuver's selection is the most odd. He's a Cleveland State Viking and played a little bit with Josh Williams before his time with the Crew, but he hasn't stuck on an MLS roster yet. He was a league pool keeper throughout 2013, but will be with the Crew next year. This creates a crowded field at goalkeeper with Matt Lampson and Daniel Withrow already under contract. The team has also said they want to bring back Andy Gruenebaum.
These signings put the roster at 22 and solidify the defense. The Crew still have significant cap room to continue to shape the roster and now can focus on adding scoring punch. The team has said they are working to bring back Dominic Oduro and Jairo Arrieta has tweeted his desire to return. The team also has the fourth pick in the January SuperDraft. There will be plenty of chances and even some salary to fix the Crew's scoring problems.