Columbus looking to add depth in Re-Entry Draft

TD Bliss says Crew, with 10th pick, have their eye on two players

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Adding to the bench will be the priority for the Crew in Stage 1 of the MLS Re-Entry Draft on Wednesday.

While high-profile players such as Juan Pablo Angel, Jimmy Conrad and Jeff Cunningham will be available, the Crew are unlikely to go top end with the 10th pick.

“We’re interested in two players,” Crew technical director Brian Bliss said. “One is a probably a little high-priced. The other guy is probably OK-priced and could fill the need for us not as a starter, but as depth, so we’re probably looking at taking one guy.”

Crew president-general manager Mark McCullers gave an indication which way the team is leaning.

“If we can find somebody that can add to the depth a little bit, that would help,” he said. “Obviously, we’ve got some roster spots to fill; with the loss of [Eric] Brunner and [Adam] Moffat we’re losing some depth.”

Brunner, a defender, and Moffat, a central midfielder, were selected by Portland in last month’s Expansion Draft as part of an overhaul that saw nine players from last year’s team depart: Jason Garey and Brian Carroll were traded and Leandre Griffit was waived.

Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Frankie Hejduk, Gino Padula and Duncan Oughton had their options declined and will be eligible for the draft.

The Re-Entry Draft consists of players at least 23 years old with a minimum of three years of MLS experience whose options were declined and those out-of-contract players who are at least 25 years old with a minimum of four years of MLS experience and/or at least 30 with a minimum of eight years of MLS experience.

A second stage will be held Dec. 15 for players not selected in Stage 1, although those players have the right to negotiate with their old clubs prior to Stage 2.

Bliss said he doesn’t envision any of the four players who did not have their options renewed returning to the Crew.

“You never say never, but that’s not the philosophy here,” he said, adding that Stage 2 might be more productive for the Crew. “The lower price or out of contract guys, that’s where the second draft comes in and makes it a little more interesting."

Coach Robert Warzycha said the Crew will draft Wednesday according to need.

“We have to go for position,” he said. “We have to fill the holes we have right now and go for the best player at the best position. We have to do what makes the most sense for us.”

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