Crew head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter has gotten to know his team over the past two weeks enough to make two key decisions. He's going to trim the roster to 30 players by the end of the week and he also intends to line the Crew up to feature Federico Higuain as the string pulling offensive maestro.
Despite only playing one game so far in the preseason, Berhalter is quickly setting his team as he cuts the roster down to the limit well before the March 1st deadline for roster compliance. The Crew and many MLS teams carried extra players through the preseason and leave final decisions until the final days before the official cut day.
There 34 players on the preseason roster. First round draft pick Ben Sweat is currently unsigned, but is likely to make the squad. Supplemental draft pick Fifi Baiden and trialist Patrick Slogic both impressed enough to get playing time in the win against Malmo, but will have to displace a player with a contract to make the team.
Berhalter also has seen enough of his team to craft a formation to head into the season. After briefly flirting with the idea of playing a three man back line, Berhalter has settled on a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Higuain guiding it from the center, just behind the strike.
The formation is similar to how former head coach Robert Warzycha lined up the team last year. The goal was to get Higuain into position to control the game, but defenses just ended up collapsing on him. Devising a way to unchain the Argentine playmaker will be the first test of Berhalter's acumen.