Thursday, June 26, 2014

US Open Cup Loss Highlights Roster Management Challenge for Crew

The Columbus Crew dropped out of the 101st Lamar Hunt US Open Cup last night by way of 4-2 aet loss in Chicago to the Fire. Outside the result, this match might be remembered for a couple things - one being tied to the other.

1) The Crew only had 15 players available (one was a pool 'keeper)
2) Berhalter implemented a new formation system just hours before the game started

“Today in the pregame, we basically unrolled a new system and explained it to the guys and said, ‘This is how we want to play, and go out and do it,’  ” Berhalter said. “That’s not easy to do." (Columbus Dispatch, June 26, 2014)

Not often that we see a professional team just flat out not able to field a full 18. I've seen it a couple times by choice in the US Open Cup (LA Galaxy comes to mind) as well as in Reserve matches but can't think of a time where a team had to do it out of necessity and only able to pull together 14 players.

Here is a quick rundown of the roster, as I have it:

NAME - STATUS
Jairo Arrieta - Okay
Hector Jimenez - Okay
Tony Tchani - Okay
Bernardo Anor - Okay
Steve Clark - Okay
Chad Barson - Okay
Justin Meram - Okay
Tyson Wahl - Okay
Ben Speas - Okay
Eric Gehrig - Okay
Ben Sweat - Okay
Kevan George - Okay

Wil Trapp - Okay, recovering
Michael Parkhurst - Okay, recovering

Josh Williams - Okay - Healthy scratch(?)
Giancarlo Gonzalez - Out, World Cup
Waylon Francis - Out, World Cup
Aaron Schoenfeld - Out, Loan with Dayton, Cup Tied
Ross Friedman - Out, Loan with Dayton, Cup Tied
Matt Walker - Out, Loan with Dayton, Cup Tied
Alvaro Rey - Out, International transfer window not open yet
Adam Bedell - Out, Red Card Suspension
Daniel Paladini - Out, Red Card Suspension

Ethan Finlay - Out, Appendicitis
Fifi Baiden - Out, Injury
Agustin Viana - Out, Injury
Matt Lampson - Out, Injury
Brad Stuver - Out, Injury
Federico Higuaín - Out, Injury
Matt Wiet - Out, Still on IR

After a strong start to the season and a couple months of stability at the player level, all the sudden the Crew have players in numerous stages of availability. Plenty of excuses out there, World Cup being the big one, but not being able to field enough players when 30 is allowed is worrisome for the team.

While the team was more than competitive with Chicago in the match the Crew will not be able to hold on to there table position with a roster in pieces like it currently is. Not only will results suffer but practices will as well with half the team not available.

MLS regular season starts back up this weekend as FC Dallas are in town. Crew will have to be at there best to navigate the next few weeks or they will risk falling off pace to make the MLS Cup play-offs.

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