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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

Crew’s Postseason Hopes Diminish in Loss to SKC

Photo Credit: Jeff Gossel/

The Columbus Crew’s playoff surge of late looks to have ended with a disappointing 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City. After Philadelphia’s win over Toronto, the Crew now sit 4 points off the final playoff spot, having played a game more than the 3 teams above them.

Kansas City were the better team throughout the first half and the key to this was the lineup of 5 central midfielders, enabling them to win the midfield battle. The Crew were playing a 4-4-2 formation, but with Dominic Oduro and Bernardo Anor both pushing high up the pitch, it left the midfield duo of Wil Trapp and Tony Tchani outnumbered and unable to have time to find their passes.

The deciding goal came in the 17th minute and in controversial circumstances with Agustin Viana on the ground with a suspected head injury. He fell after an initial challenge with Ike Opara from a corner kick. The ball was recycled and sent in again and this time Opara was free to head in at the far post.

Photo Credit: Jeff Gossel/

The other main talking point of the 1st half was a suspected injury to Federico Higuain early in the half. After falling awkwardly challenging for a ball, he spent most of the half holding his hip, though Crew head coach Brian Bliss was reluctant to remove his talismanic captain.

The second half did not bring a change to the pattern of the game and the Crew were relying on long balls to their front men. The Crew duo of Jairo Arrieta and Oduro were lacking discipline to wait in making their forward runs and were caught offside 5 times between them. The second half introduction of Ryan Finley only increased this number to a total of 8 times between them.

A couple of half chances came and went for the Crew with the best coming from the head of Marshall on 62 minutes, but his header was just wide. A final push for the equalizer finally came in stoppage time with a great play from the substitute Ben Speas as he set Finley free, but the ball did not settle and Sporting’s defense cleared.

Match Photos

Win #1 for Bliss

Photo Credit: Jeff Gossel/

Tonight was a start of a new era for Columbus following the sacking of Robert Warzycha as head coach on Monday and the new era started with a morale-boosting 2-0 win over Houston. Though the outcome could have been very different if Will Bruin had found his shooting boots after a poor first half from the Crew.

Houston should have been three goals to the good within the first 15 minutes of the game with the Crew defense serving up chances at will. First Eric Gehrig let Bruin get a toe to a ball he should have cleared as he rounded Matt Lampson in the Crew goal, but the weak shot was cleared by the retreating Chad Barson.

Bruin again found himself free minutes later after a long ball over the top of the Crew defense, but he hit his shot wide of the goal. He was then presented with his third chance on 11 minutes with Gehrig again at fault. He failed to clear a long ball which Bruin stole and was clean through on goal, though it was not third time is the charm as his shot rose high over the bar.

Photo Credit: Jeff Gossel/

Columbus finally started to create some chances as the half went on with Ryan Finley and Justin Meram testing the Houston keeper. The Crew’s best chance of the half fell to Dominic Oduro when Brad Davis of Houston played a poor crossfield ball which Oduro intercepted, but he overran the ball allowing Tally Hall to come out and block the resulting shot.

The second half was a different story for the Crew as they came out with an intensity that was missing in the first half and were rewarded immediately. Finley scored his first professional goal after some fine work from Bernardo Anor. He found Meram free on the left side of the box, who unselfishly squared for Finley to place into an empty net.

It should have been 2-0 just moments later after a soft penalty was awarded after a tug on Oduro’s shirt in the box. Finley, buoyant from his first-ever goal in the pros, stepped up to take the resulting kick, but his poor effort was easily saved by Hall.

The second goal finally came on 74 minutes when Oduro’s cross was awkwardly hit by Finley and fell kindly to Meram to dispatch his shot across Hall into the far corner. This capped a fine performance from Meram.

“Justin has individual talent a lot of guys don’t have in carving balls and slipping by guys, creating his own shots,” Crew Interim Head Coach Brian Bliss stated. “He can do that, whether he was doing it better the last six months or was doing it better today, I’ll leave you guys to judge that, he’s got that in his game, he just happened to be on today for lack of a better term.”

Houston never threatened to come back in the game and were looking tired with this their second away game in three days.

Match Photos