New Crew signing Griffit not likely to play just yet

French midfielder needs to regain fitness, coach Warzycha says

 

The newest Crew will likely not play anytime soon, Crew coach Robert Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com on Friday.

French midfielder Leandre Griffit was signed Friday after spending about a month training with the Crew but Warzycha said his recent 10-day trip home to secure a visa and attend to personal matters decreased Griffit’s fitness level.

“I don’t think he’s even fit enough to be on the bench [Saturday] and obviously the way we are playing he needs to wait,” Warzycha said.

The Crew (3-0-2) host Chivas USA on Saturday then play at New York on Thursday and Kansas City on May 23. The tight schedule next week will probably preclude Griffit from dressing for those games as well.

“If I have him on the bench he won’t be running and doing training here,” Warzycha said. “With the travel and everything he’s basically going to lose a week. He needs to get fit and adjust to the speed of play here and life here. It’s going to take some time. I’m guessing after the break we’re going to have in June he’s going to be ready to play.”

That could push Griffit’s debut to at least June 26.

After the KC match, the Crew are home to Los Angeles on May 29 then play away vs. San Jose (June 2) and Colorado (June 5) before taking time off for the World Cup.

“The week before LA we’ll evaluate him and see what happens,” Warzycha said.

Griffit, who turns 26 on May 21, takes the spot of midfielder Kevin Burns, who will undergo sports hernia surgery next year. Burns won’t be eligible to come off injured reserve until the June 26 match against D.C. United so the Crew have time before having to jettison someone to make room for Griffit.

Warzycha feels Griffit brings an attacking mentality to the central midfield.

“He wants me to be a connection between the midfield and the striker,” Griffit said. “I think I am that player. I’ll try to give the team a different look. I’m here to try and win a championship. My goal in America is to do something special.”

He spent much of the preseason with Houston before being released and being invited to Columbus.

Griffit began his career with French second-division club Amiens S.C. in 2002. He signed with Southampton FC of the English Premier League the following season, where he made eight appearances in two seasons before going on a string of loans in England’s lower level.

From there, he played 21 games for Sweden’s Elfsborg from 2005 to 2008 and was part of a championship team in 2006 that qualified for the UEFA Cup and the qualifying stage of the Champions League.

The next stop was England’s Crystal Palace where he played in only five matches in 2008-09 before asking for his release. He then joined the Belgium third-division club URS Centre because Griffit said he could be closer to his ailing father in France.

“We like his passing ability,” Crew technical director Brian Bliss said. “His possession rate is good. Hopefully, he’ll help bring us more goals.”