Crew close to signing Costa Rican striker Olman Vargas

Columbus also eyeing recognizable players from South America

The frustration has eased a bit for the Crew, with Wednesday’s first of what they hope is several signings in the coming days.

Now that Chilean midfielder Milovan Mirosevic is under contract, attention has turned to acquiring Costa Rican forward Olman Vargas.

“It’s close [to being done]," Crew coach Robert Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday afternoon. “We’re very interested in him. He’s 6-foot-1. He’s physical. He has good speed. He has a good touch. More than anything he works very, very hard.”

Vargas, 26, has spent the past two seasons for Costa Rican side Herediano and had six goals in the 2011 Apertura of the Primera División. He previously played for several clubs, including Deportivo Saprissa.

Warzycha said the Crew still have offers to several attacking players in Uruguay and Peru and are separately pursuing several options for a Designated Player, although no contracts have been tendered.

“We have some names,” he said. “They would all be recognized by the fans.”

The Crew’s search for offense had reached a roadblock in the days leading to Mirosevic’s signing and technical director Brian Bliss told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday that he was annoyed that several targeted players were being held back because their clubs had not sent the final paperwork allowing their releases.

“I’ve never had this experience before in terms of getting documentation signed,” Bliss said. “It’s crazy. We’re frustrated it’s not happening, but also worried that a couple of them won’t happen.”

Presumably, some of the anxiety has been lifted. Columbus’ big offseason signing after the 2010 season – Chilean defender Sebastián Miranda – came on Dec. 30 of that year, but the date came and went in 2011 without an announcement and hopes of getting some new players by the first day of training on Jan. 19 were beginning to fade.

Speas not in fold yet

Home Grown Player Ben Speas, who scored the winning goal for North Carolina in last month’s College Cup final, is still considering an offer to leave the Tar Heels for the Crew.

“There’s no decision yet by him,” Warzycha said of the junior forward from Stow, Ohio.

The Crew recently signed former Ohio State goalkeeper Matt Lampson to a Home Grown contract, joining Aaron Horton as two Home Grown products on Columbus' roster.

Strike force

Jamaican left back Lance Laing of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers will be invited to the Bradenton, Fla., portion of preseason beginning Feb. 1, Warzycha said. The 23-year-old was named to the NASL Best XI in 2011.

“Maybe that’s a guy we’re looking for,” Warzycha said. "Look at Josh Gardner last year, he did pretty well."

The Crew signed Gardner from the Carolina RailHawks last season and the defender started 21 matches and scored two goals before being selected by Montreal in the MLS Expansion Draft.