Okay, so SuperDraft can be just as hairy as it can be exciting. For me, being a Columbus Crew fan, I was a bit nervous as to what it would bring.
In case you don’t keep up with the Black and Gold, let me just tell you that – once again – there have been some big moves and changes in the squad since the end of the season. Ones fans saw coming and others that made me personally go “Whaaaat?” Head Coach Robert Warzycha isn’t afraid to mix things up and release players that are actually pretty favored among fans. We all remember the Steven Leinhart thing, right? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Anyway, what the Crew needed going into this draft was defense. Other areas need work, yes. Concerning the attack, the Crew now have a whole season with Higuain and Arrieta up front; a perfect opportunity for us all to see what that partnership is really made of. We saw glimpses of it here and there toward the end of 2012, but it was never consistent enough for my liking. Our midfield could use some stability too, especially with winning and keeping the ball.
And as for keepers – though the Crew let go long time goal tender William Hesmer after his season long injury absence, I would say the team is pretty set with Andy Gruenebaum; the kid had a league-leading 124 saves and is pretty much the reason Chris Wondolowski is short that one goal last season.
So it was really a strong, promising defensive player I wanted out of the draft. When the Crew came up on the clock with the No. 9 pick in the first round, I have to say I was more than a bit surprised when they chose forward Ryan Finley from the University of Notre Dame.
Not to knock Finley or his talent – just looking at reports and his college accomplishments, this kid is pretty fierce on the attack; during his college career at Duke and Notre Dame, he scored 56 goals and has numerous awards, including being named 2012 Big East Offensive Player of the year – but I just wasn’t so sure about bringing in a forward with our first pick. But like I said, he’s been a big asset on the attack for ND. And that’s something the Crew could definitely utilize.
I just find myself wondering if he’ll stay in the forward position or if Coach Warzycha might try to make him more of a midfielder. Given his talents though, I don’t think that will happen.
When the Crew’s second pick came round, I finally got my wish. The team picked up University of Denver defender Drew Beckie. Yes, a centerback! Just what the Crew could use in the back line! Beckie is Canadian and appeared 78 times for Denver through his four years of college. He’s also apparently versatile in the back, which is a quality the Crew could also greatly benefit from.
At the end of the draft, I found myself not overly disappointed. Columbus did pick up a promising defender and even a promising attacking player. Couldn’t ask much more than that?
Other news that Crew fans are probably paying close attention to is the talks of Milovan Mirosevic and Dilly Duka leaving. Oh and then there is the news that former midfielder Robbie Rogers was released from Leeds earlier this week.
According to mlssoccer.com, on Friday Crew technical director Brian Bliss and coach Warzycha said Mirosevic and Duka were staying put as far as they knew. While both players did not report to training on Friday, Bliss and Warzycha said Mirosevic had talked to the two and assured them he would be in practice on Monday. As for Duka, the Crew are talking to three teams in the MLS about him (including the Chicago Fire, ew) but at the moment, Duka is still under contract with the Crew and expected to show on Monday.
Then there’s the curious case of Robbie Rogers. When Rogers was released to go play with Leeds in England, the Crew opted to retain his rights, should he decide to return to MLS. Leeds and Rogers parted ways by “mutual consent,” which begs the question, where will Robbie go now? I haven’t heard any rumors, but unless he has something lined up with another team in Europe, the logical choice would be back to MLS. However, I don’t see him coming back with the Crew.
As of right now, Rogers isn’t listed on the roster for preseason training. So I can only imagine if he does decide to come back, Bliss and Warzycha will be making deals with another MLS team.
The Columbus Crew will kick off the 2013 MLS season March 2 in California against Chivas USA!