Friday, November 22, 2013

Shawn Sloan: Part 1 of 6 !

During a damp summer Sunday Ohio morning reserve match at the Obetz training facility I joked with Fox Sports Ohio writer Rick Gethin that I was going to write a six part series about first year Crew player Shawn Sloan.

Rick rolled off a laugh as I made my case. I had seen Sloan play a couple times previous and thought he had something but the joke was that no player like him could possibly make it in a league structured like MLS. As the game progressed... I think both of us became more of a believer.

Sloan started in the back line but was moved up into the middle part of the field later on in the match. This type of thing is the hallmark of a player that is being used as filler on this less than glamorous Crew side. A competent warm body that fills the role of MLS reserve dummy. Or cone. Or what have you.

Seems there was something different in Sloan, though. It wasn't uncommon to see him barking at other players, frustrated that they were not where he thought they should be. In the wrong hands this type of behavior would earn him a spot on the bench. Or worse, disapproval from teammates. I'd seen it before, but neither happened.

I've been around MLS quite a bit since the size of rosters jumped from the low twenties to the thirty it is now back in 2010. Dozens of players like Sloan are left behind to continue on to whatever career track they were on in college a year before (in Shawn's case he could probably make more money not playing soccer).

Turns out, Shawn Sloan has been picked up by the Columbus Crew for the 2014 season.

After a year in which the team saw a new owner and along with a brand new coaching staff, this is pretty remarkable. All of the non-budget/cap players the old regime picked last year (Drew Beckie, Kyle Hyland, Konrad Warzycha) were let go after just a year with the team.

The decision to keep Sloan is a good one and tells me that new head coach and director of soccer ops Gregg Berhalter isn't moving about the early off season flippantly.

What's interesting to me is that Sloan likely matches Berhalter's thinking mind the most out of anyone on the team. Excited to see what's next.

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