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Three options for the Crew in the MLS Waiver Draft

There’s not a lot of talent available, but some players could be worth a bet.

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at FC Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Soccer’s offseason officially started on Tuesday with the League’s Expansion Draft, in which Columbus Crew SC lost midfielder Luis Argudo to new side Inter Miami FC. Now, however, comes the fun part, the one in which the Black & Gold can actually add players who were in the League last season to its roster.

The first opportunity will come on Monday when the League runs the end-of-year Waiver Draft, in which players with limited MLS experience who are out of contract will be made available to other teams for selection.

Columbus will be the fifth team to pick, which means there could still be some value on the table when the Crew is on the clock. Even though there are some big names on the list, including Chicago Fire midfielders Nicolas Gaitan and Aleksandar Katai and Philadelphia Union veterans Harris Medujanin and Marco Fabian, don’t expect huge additions here.

The Waiver Draft is designed so teams can add low-impact pieces to their rosters at no cost and if the Crew is willing to do so, here are three names that could be worth a look:

Tomas Hilliard-Arce

MLS: Los Angeles Galaxy at Philadelphia Union Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The center back was selected second overall in the MLS SuperDraft not long ago, 2018, and even though he did little to live to the expectations in his two seasons with the LA Galaxy, in which he played in only five matches (four starts), there could still be some value to get from him, especially for a Crew team that already has three proven defenders under contract and is very likely to add at least another starting-caliber player to the mix. At 24 years old, it’s hard to believe Hilliard-Arce, a three-time collegiate champion at Stanford, could drastically transform his game, but the Black & Gold certainly don’t need it from their fifth center back, so he may be worth the gamble in the end.

Gedion Zelalem

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Sporting Kansas City Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The 22-year-old midfielder is another low-risk, high-reward option available for selection. The German-born American international spent six years in the youth and senior levels of English Premier League giants Arsenal, but never saw the field for the Gunners. He did play, though, for Scotland’s Glasgow Rangers and was also used in nine matches for the Sporting Kansas City during the 2019 season, his first in MLS. He’s been a frequent name for the U.S. Under-20 and Under-23 national teams, having played in two U-20 FIFA World Cups already. The Crew has three potential starters for the center midfield spots in Wil Trapp, Darlington Nagbe and Artur and can afford the risk of giving a talented, yet under-developed player a chance to flourish.

Adam Grinwis

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-NYC FC at Orlando City SC Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Black & Gold have only two goalkeepers under contract right now and they will need to add a couple more before the start of the season. In that regard, the Waiver Draft offers the opportunity of filling one of those spots with MLS veterans at basically no cost, as most of the players available won’t command expensive salaries. The 27-year-old Grinwis is one of them and, even though his League experience consists of five matches in 2018 for Orlando City, he is a 2015 USL Cup winner with the Rochester Rhinos and could be a decent option behind Eloy Room and Jon Kempin, especially with him not demanding an international slot.