Crew exercises options on 10 players

17 players already under contract for 2013

Andy Gruenebaum

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COLUMBUS —The Columbus Crew announced today that it has exercised the contract options on 10 players from its 2012 roster, while seven others were already under contract for next season, giving the club a roster that currently features 17 players.

The Crew picked-up the options of goalkeepers Andy Gruenebaum and Matt Lampson; defenders Eric Gehrig and Josh Williams, midfielders Bernardo Anor, Dilly Duka, Ethan Finlay and Kevan George; and forwards Justin Meram and Aaron Schoenfeld.

The Black & Gold simultaneously announced that it has declined the contract options of goalkeeper William Hesmer; defenders Rich Balchan, Julius James and Sebastian Miranda; midfielders Chris Birchall and Tony Tchani; and forward Tommy Heinemann.

“Offseason roster decisions are never easy, and this year is no different,” said Crew Technical Director Brian Bliss. “While we’ve declined options on a number of players, we will continue conversations with some of those individuals to potentially return to the club. Further roster announcements will be made in the weeks ahead, and we’re excited to build upon the successful core we developed throughout 2012.”

Hesmer was an instrumental cog in the Crew lineup for six seasons en route to becoming the most prolific goalkeeper in club history. Acquired from Toronto FC in 2006 after being selected in the Expansion Draft, Hesmer proceeded to backstop the Crew to two Supporters’ Shields, an Eastern Conference Championship and the 2008 MLS Cup. He currently holds several Crew goalkeeping records, including games played and started (130), wins (59), shots faced (623), saves (412) and shutouts (41). Hesmer was sidelined throughout 2012 after undergoing hip surgery in April.

“We want to thank William Hesmer for his six outstanding years of service in Columbus,” said Crew President and General Manager Mark McCullers. “William has been a consummate professional during his time with the Crew and he helped this club achieve its highest honors during his tenure.”

Birchall, Hesmer, James and Tchani are eligible for the MLS Re-Entry Process, which begins December 7. A full list of players eligible for the Re-Entry Process will be announced by MLS next week.

Defenders Danny O’Rourke and Carlos Mendes, as well as forward Emilio Renteria are out of contract. The Crew expects to extend offers to all three players. Forthcoming roster announcements will be made in the coming weeks.

The Crew’s current roster follows:

Goalkeepers (2): Andy Gruenebaum, Matt Lampson

Defenders (3): Eric Gehrig, Chad Marshall, Josh Williams

Midfielders (6): Bernardo Anor, Dilly Duka, Ethan Finlay, Eddie Gaven, Kevan George, Milovan Mirosevic

Forwards (6): Jairo Arrieta, Federico Higuaín, Aaron Horton, Justin Meram, Aaron Schoenfeld, Ben Speas