Gonzalez "ticks a lot of boxes" along backline

New signing adds clarity to Crew's defensive picture

New signing Giancarlo Gonzalez may be the missing piece in the Crew's backline with just two weeks to go before the Black & Gold's first regular-season match of 2014 on March 8 at D.C. United. The Costa Rican centerback is likely to pair in the middle of defense with either U.S. International Michael Parkhurst or veteran Josh Williams, both of whom can also play on the right. Offseason addition Waylon Francis and rookie Ben Sweat continue to battle for the starting spot the left side of the backline.

"There are a lot of aspects that [Gonzalez] brings," Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said. "First and foremost is leadership. He has a good history of winning. I think he has good aerial ability both on defensive and offensive set pieces. He's a good passer of the ball.

"I think he ticks a lot of boxes in that defensive area."

Gonzalez was a mainstay in Costa Rica's 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying efforts and is likely headed to Brazil this summer with La Sele. Bringing in a player of Gonzalez's caliber was important in Berhalter's building of the Crew roster. The Sporting Director and Head Coach hopes the centerback's international experience will pay dividends for the Black & Gold in 2014.

"He's familiar with a lot of the forwards in this League," Berhalter said of Gonzalez. "He's played against them -- Hondurans in [FIFA World Cup] Qualifying, some of the American forwards in [FIFA World Cup] Qualifying. It won't be a shock for him to play against these guys again."

Gonzalez could see action as soon as Saturday afternoon as the Crew takes on the Philadelphia Union in its third preseason match of 2014 at 1:00 p.m. ET.

"He wants to play," commented Berhalter. "He's here to play.

"I could definitely [see him playing against Philadelphia]."