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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

Back on Track

The Precourt Era is underway in Columbus.

For the first time since the sale of the team to Anthony Precourt, the Crew played in front of their home fans and gave them a look at what things would be like under their new owner, taking on the first place New York Red Bulls.

If the match was any indication Columbus has a bright road ahead.

Having struggled for most of the summer not much was expected from the Crew on the night, but a wonderful brace from Federico Higuain was enough to shock the Red Bulls and pull out a much needed victory 2-0.

Earning a penalty in the 66th minute on a questionable call, the captain stepped up to the spot for Columbus and rocketed a shot past the diving goalkeeper for the one goal lead.

Just nine minutes later Higuain scored his second with a cheeky ball over Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles.

Wil Trapp recorded his first career assist when he played the ball forward to Higuain, who caught Robles off his line and chipped the ball into the far corner to make things 2-0.

The Crew continued to play without their No. 1 keeper Andy Gruenebaum, but Matt Lampson made his presence felt with two wonderful diving saves and earned his second shutout this year.

It was the first win for Columbus since July 7 and could not have come any sooner.

Coming into the night on 23 points, 10 out of the fifth playoff position, Columbus needed the win if they hoped to keep their playoff hopes alive.

“We played hard, we scored more on the other team, and we got three points,” Lampson stated.

The Red Bulls, who played without both Tim Cahill and Thierry Henry, fell to second place just a point behind Sporting Kansas City.

Still seven points behind 5th place Houston, Columbus will look to win back-to-back matches August 17 when they play host to Toronto FC.

Subside Sports Man of the Match: Matt Lampson

Although Higuain scored both of the goals for Columbus on the night, they would have meant little if it hadn’t been for the young goalkeeper. A diving save across his body in the 60th minute barely kept the Red Bulls from opening the scoring and another wonderful save in the 74th kept the Crew ahead late in the match.

Honorable mention goes to Wil Trapp who had a quiet but influential game, controlling most of the traffic through the middle of the field, in both directions, and recording his first career assist.