Trialists battle for spot on Crew roster during preseason
In addition to unsigned draft picks Drew Beckie, Reed Matte, Daniel Withrow and Shawn Sloan, six more players will be fighting to make the Crew's roster ahead of the Black & Gold's first match against Chivas USA on March 2. The seven trialists' experience varies, but all have a shot of impressing Robert Warzycha this preseason.
Blake Brettschneider - It wouldn't be preseason if Brettschneider wasn't playing for a roster spot. Selected in the Second Round of the 2011 MLS Supplemental Draft by D.C. United, the forward impressed Ben Olsen enough to earn nine starts his rookie season to score one goal and record three assists in 15 total appearances with the Black-and-Red. Waived by D.C. the following offseason, Brettschneider earned a contract with the New England Revolution during preseason in 2012. The University of South Carolina product played in 17 matches for New England to find the net twice and notched one assist. He was released by the Revs in November.
Brettschneider played 23 minutes on Saturday against D.C. United, holding the ball up well and finding a way to create his own shot on a couple occasions. Brettschneider had a nice headed goal in the Crew's 11-on-11 scrimmage Sunday morning, putting Sercan Güvenisik's cross from the right flank into the net past Matt Lampson. If Brettschneider makes the roster, he could be a viable replacement for Tommy Heinemann to add depth to the Crew frontline.
Nate Bascom - What First Round SuperDraft pick Ryan Finley was to NCAA Division I in 2012, Bascom was to Division III while at Ohio Northern University. The tall, lanky forward scored 18 goals and tallied 18 assists in 2012 for the Polar Bears. In his four seasons at ONU, Bascom tied a school record with 56 goals while setting a new record for assists with 43.
Bascom only saw five minutes in Saturday's friendly, but has shown a decent ability to finish in shooting drills in training thus far in preseason.
Sercan Güvenisik - The 32-year-old journeyman forward joins Crew camp following a season with the San Jose Earthquakes. Güvenisik became the first Turkish player to play in MLS after a decade of playing in Germany and Turkey where he earned a reputation as a potent goal-scorer in the German second and third divisions.
Güvenisik stepped up to take the game-winning penalty kick Saturday and has shown his attacking abilities during training scrimmages, providing an assist to Blake Brettschneider in Sunday's training session. The Turkish forward would occupy a valuable international roster spot, which could make the decision to sign him a difficult one for the Crew.
Kyle Hyland - The diminutive midfielder/defender played in 72 matches over four years at IUPUI and has featured on Crew Soccer Academy teams in the past. During his collegiate career, the Bay Village, Ohio native scored 10 goals and notched 10 assists for the Jaguars, including eight tallies in 2012.
Hyland has primarily featured as leftback during preseason camp and has performed admirably at times when marking veteran Eddie Gaven in scrimmages. The Crew technical staff will be watching Hyland closely this preseason as the Black & Gold needs depth at fullback and Hyland may provide that as a non-Homegrown Academy product.
Hami Kara - The Turkish-born goalkeeper recorded six shutouts in two seasons at the University of Pittsburgh after posting a 34-6-2 record and earning NJCAA First Team All-American status in two seasons at Manchester Community College.
Kara hasn't seen any game action thus far during the Crew's preseason camp. He will battle with Supplemental Draft pick Daniel Withrow for the vacant third goalkeeper spot behind Andy Gruenebaum and Matt Lampson.
Konrad Warzycha - Warzycha joins Crew camp following two seasons with Sporting Kansas City. The Ohio State product missed extensive time during his rookie season due to injury, but returned in 2012 to help Sporting in its Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup campaign.
The son of Head Coach Robert Warzycha, the 23-year-old central midfielder will play with a chip on his shoulder during his trial to prove he's worthy of wearing Black & Gold next season. There will be no preferential treatment as his father observes every player fairly.
Krystian Witkowski - Coming out of Marist College, Witkowski made the Philadelphia Union's roster in 2012 after being taken in the Supplemental Draft. He was released in November after suffering concussion-like symptoms for most of 2012.
Witkowski provided a presence in central midfield in the second half of Saturday's match against United, partnering with rookie Wil Trapp. Witkowski handled most of the corner kicks against D.C.