Columbus Crew SC made several player moves today, including the surprising decision not trick up the option on Steve Clark. The goalkeeper had started 100 straight league games.
The team will be bringing back summer signings Nicolai Naess and midfielders Dilly Duka. Rookies Marshall Hollingsworth and Cristian Martinez will return for a second year. Berhalter stalwart Mohammed Saeid also returns.
They join Federico Higuain, Wil Trapp and Justin Meram as players the team picked up options on this offseason
The team made official that Cedrick Mabwati will not return by declining his option. His social media feed had already suggested he was leaving. Corey Ashe's option was also declined. Rookie Matt Pacifici will also not be returning. He was injured in mid season and was put on the season ending injured reserve list in July.
The team previously announced that Tyson Wahl and Conor Casey were retiring from professional soccer.
The headlining news is that apparently Clark won't return. The goalkeeper joined Crew SC as on of Berhalter's first moves with the team. He came over from Honefoss and the team traded for his rights from the Seattle Sounders.
Clark played 100 regular season games and seven additional post season games. After an outstanding 2014, he struggled at times in 2015, highlighted by his turnover in MLS Cup that lead to a goal in the first minute of the game. He rebounded in 2016 to have a solid year in front of a makeshift defense.
The team can choose to renegotiate the contracts of any of the players who had their options declined, but that has been rare for the team do do so. Michael Parkhurst and Chad Barson are out of contract. The Dispatch had previously reported that Parkhurst was extended an offer.
The roster currently stands at 20 with some significant holes to patch before the season with only two goalkeepers on roster at four defenders under contract. The roster as it currently stands is below.
Goalkeepers (2): Zack Steffen, Brad Stuver
Defenders (4): Harrison Afful, Waylon Francis, Nicolai Naess, Gaston Sauro
Midfielders (12): Dilly Duka, Ethan Finlay, Federico Higuain, Marshall Hollingsworth, Hector Jimenez, Cristian Martinez, Justin Meram, Mohammed Saeid, Rodrigo Saravia, Ben Swanson, Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp
Forwards (2): Adam Jahn, Ola Kamara