Friday, December 6, 2013

The 31st Player

Brian Bliss was hired as the Technical Director for the Chicago Fire today and with him goes most of the 'boots on the ground' player knowledge the Columbus Crew had in the midwest region of the US.


Bliss has his hands all over the 2014 Crew roster.

The most notable moves shaping next year's roster were made right before he was let go when he dropped Aaron Horton and Matias Sanchez from the Crew roster ("Those guys are done," was the quote he gave the press).

On top of that, Bliss also orchestrated the signing of C.S. Herediano left back Waylon Francis.

If that were it, you could probably say it was busy and surprisingly well executed work by Brian Bliss in a very short period of time.

But that wasn't it. In fact, his best work is possibly the one team watchers have just found out about...


Reports have recently surfaced that Bliss parked Matt Wiet with the Dayton Dutch Lions of the USL Pro division last summer with the intention of putting him in a Crew uniform for 2014.

What makes this interesting is that the Crew don't have any formal relationship with Dayton and signing Wiet last summer made him the 31st player on a MLS mandated 30 player roster max.

Adam Jardy, beat writer for the Columbus Dispatch, recently confirmed that Wiet was a summer(ish) Crew signing.

"According to the league, Wiet technically signed with the Crew prior to signing with the Dutch Lions. When Berhalter discussed the signing, he said it was done before he was hired."

What this suggests is that the Crew/MLS were paying for Wiet (or at least a percentage of salary).

I've spoken with a few folks down in Dayton about this and one anonymous source has echoed the fact that Bliss did place Wiet with the Dutch Lions. I've also been told that after his ACL injury Crew representatives were in the locker room with him.

The Crew were the only team in MLS to not officially make any roster moves all season. They sat at 30 players all year long despite season ending injuries to Eddie Gaven and Glauber.

Matt Wiet signing during the summer represents the 31st roster player on a capped roster size of 30 (again, as mandated by MLS).


In his recent "State of the League" address, Don Garber admitted that MLS pretty much makes it up as they go along so something like this Wiet situation isn't likely to ruffle to many feathers or make any major news. Hell, Garber's admission that the league is making up important rules and regulations didn't make news.

Why the Crew didn't wait till this offseason to sign him is up to speculation but it is likely that he had some other offer out there and the Crew had to jump on it.

All of this would have been a shrewd bit of business had Bliss not been let go by new owner Anthony Precourt after the season ended.


There isn't enough information out there to tell me if Matt Wiet is a good enough player to make it in MLS or not. I saw him play during the game he got injured but there wasn't much there to note other than the fact that a Crew target was starting for Dayton. At the time I thought it was Dayton being proactive or Wiet getting impatient with the Crew.

Instead it was Bliss locking down a player for a franchise he is no longer with.

What a tangled web.

Matt Wiet should be back to full training sometime in the the Spring of 2014.

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