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The Right Back Merry-Go-Round Spins for Columbus Crew SC

Last year's cycle at right back continues with the termination of Hernan Grana's contract.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn't until about the middle of last year when Columbus Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter finally found his starting lineup. When Ethan Finlay and Justin Meram began to find their form and lay claim to the starting winger spots, the lineup was set.

That is except for the right back position. Josh Williams began the season as the starter, but was eventually replaced by winger Hector Jimenez. Williams got back into the lineup, but missed most of the rest of the season with blood clot issues. Chad Barson, Eric Gehrig, and Tyson Wahl all saw time at right back, as the Black and Gold searched for the right fit.

In January, it appeared Crew SC found the missing puzzle piece when they signed Argentinian veteran Hernan Grana. The right back had vast experience playing throughout Argentina, most recently with giants Boca Juniors where he made 20 appearances in 2014.

Grana played and started seven games for the Black and Gold this season, but was suspiciously left from the 18-man game day roster for Saturday's contest with the Seattle Sounders. Jimenez once again filled in at right back, his second start at the position of the season, and the revolving door continued.

"It was a choice by me. It was a coach's decisions and I think different guys get chances at different times and it was time for Hector to perform and I think he did a good job," Berhalter said after the match.

"I've talked about us having a deep squad and guys getting chances and everyone has a time and we felt that this was time for Hector."

The cycle at the position changed once again on Tuesday at Crew SC training, where Grana was seen leaving while the rest of the team trained.

"We officially parted ways with Hernan effective immediently," Berhalter told the media after training. "Talking about bringing guys in and not knowing exactly how it's going to go, the toll of being away from his family and his newborn became too much to bear and as a result of that, we parted ways with the idea that he's returning to Argentina to be with his family.

"It hurts us obviously because he was a good player and he could obviously make an impact, but I firmly believe if a player is not right mentally and he's not settled, he's going to have a difficult time performing."

So what is next in this ongoing game of duck, duck, goose at right back for Columbus?

"As of now, until the next window opens, Hector, and Chad, and [Chris Klute] are the replacements, and those guys have proven to do a good job," Berhalter said. "Hector did a good job last week and did a good job last year, both Chad, Hector, and Chris have played there throughout their career. We move on with those guys."

When Grana and Klute were signed, Berhalter talked about the need for depth at the outside back positions and that couldn't be truer at this moment. It appears the Black and Gold will be back to where the team was a year ago, looking for the one guy while alternating from a collection, at least for now.

As Berhalter said, Jimenez did well last week at right back and Klute has shown he is capable in his time on the left side of the defense. If Barson can step in at times as well, along with Parkhurst and Wahl in emergency purposes, Crew SC should be able to continue on as they did at right back a year ago.

Round and round they go. Where it stops, no body knows.