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Crew Roster Begins to Take Shape

The Columbus Crew announced today that it has exercised the contract options on 14 players from its 2013 roster, while four others were already under contract for next season, giving the club a roster that currently features 18 players.

The Crew picked-up the options of goalkeepers Matt Lampson and Daniel Withrow; defenders Chad Barson, Eric Gehrig and Tyson Wahl; midfielders Bernardo Anor, Ethan Finlay, Kevan George, Justin Meram, Shawn Sloan, Ben Speas and Tony Tchani; and forwards Ryan Finley and Aaron Schoenfeld.

The Black & Gold simultaneously announced that it has declined the contract options of defenders Drew Beckie, Glauber, Kyle Hyland; defender/midfielder Danny O’Rourke; midfielder Konrad Warzycha; and forward Jairo Arrieta. Contract options were also declined on midfielder Matias Sanchez and forward Aaron Horton, a move that was previously announced in October. Both players are eligible for next week’s MLS Waiver Draft, taking place on Monday, November 25.

“The process of building our 2014 roster is now underway,” said Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “Unfortunately, as part of that process difficult decisions are required. While we’ve declined options on certain players, we will continue conversations with those individuals to potentially return to the club next season. We look forward to shaping the team in the weeks ahead of preseason training camp.”

O’Rourke is eligible for the MLS Re-Entry Process, which begins after MLS Cup on December 7. A full list of players eligible for the Re-Entry Process will be announced by MLS at a later date.

Goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum, forward Dominic Oduro and defender Josh Williams are out of contract. The Crew is currently in discussions with all three players, and future roster announcements will be made in the coming weeks.

The Crew’s current roster follows:

Goalkeepers (2): Matt Lampson, Daniel Withrow

Defenders (5): Chad Barson, Eric Gehrig, Chad Marshall, Agustin Viana, Tyson Wahl

Midfielders (8): Bernardo Anor, Ethan Finlay, Kevan George, Justin Meram, Shawn Sloan, Ben Speas, Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp

Forwards (3): Federico Higuain, Ryan Finley, Aaron Schoenfeld

Akron vs. Creighton Men’s Soccer Preview

The University of Akron (18-1-2) is quite possibly facing their most challenging match of 2012.  Fresh off an electric 2-1 win over Michigan last week, the Zips now head to their next opponent, the Bluejays of Creighton University (16-3-2).

Creighton had four players drafted in January 2012, including Crew winger Ethan Finlay, a speedster that has a bright future in MLS.

But like every other top program, Creighton reloaded nicely for the fall season.  Bolstered by incoming freshmen and elite transfers like NPSL POY Carlos McCrary, the Bluejays entered the season with the 20th ranked recruiting class and a #14 preseason ranking from CSN.

Timo Pitter (9 goals) and Jose Gomez (6 goals) lead the Creighton attack, while Jeff Gal (43 saves) anchors the defense from between the posts.    Brent Kallman has developed into a great defensive player while Andrew Ribiero looks to be the next Bluejay in MLS.

But playing Akron is certainly no picnic for any team in the country.  We asked MLS scouts and former Akron players for what to expect in Sunday’s matchup.  Teams like Akron like to play quality opponents, those who play the game as it is supposed to be played.  When you compare Creighton to last week’s opponent Michigan, you see some major differences.

Big 10 soccer is big and physical, while Creighton focuses on finesse and possession. The Bluejays are one of the few teams in the country that can match Akron’s speed and athleticism.

But there is more to facing the Zips than that.  Akron is a team that is stacked at every position.  Between the posts is NCAA all-time shutouts leader David Meves.  In front of him is an elite backline that includes Chad Barson, DeAndre Yedlin, and Bryan Gallego.  The midfield is absolutely loaded with Eric Stevenson, Aodhan Quinn, Wil Trapp, and Scott Caldwell. Up top is AFC Cleveland alum Tommy Schmitt and Saad Abdul-Salaam as well as Alfred Koroma and Reinaldo Brenes. Their bench could beat most teams, even though Caleb Porter won’t make boatloads of subs just to make subs.

It is safe to say that the visitors face an uphill battle at FirstEnergy Stadium.

One of the biggest factors is the home crowd, the “12th Man Effect.” Student supporters come out in droves for the Zips.  In fact, the AK-ROWDIES are one of the largest such groups in all of North America. The ROWDIES are there regardless of weather and this provides motivation to the players on the pitch.

“They are willing to stand in the cold while we get to run around and play a sport we love,” former Akron defender Matt Dagilis stated. “They give us the extra confidence we need to make a special play.”

And special plays will come early and often from the potent, attacking style employed by Akron. Stevenson has been hot as of late.  He will be a player to watch, a player that is not afraid to fire away.  And there is Mr. Consistent, i.e. Caldwell, someone who can be counted on for a goal or an assist when it is needed most.

And Caldwell and Co. may need it Sunday as they fight to stay alive in the NCAA Tournament.