The 2013 SuperDraft is only one developing story around Major League Soccer as the new season rapidly approaches. The Columbus Crew have been posting regular profiles of possible draft targets to their website, and Duncan Oughton has been updating followers on Twitter from the player combine. Outside this main attraction, however, the team has been busy on other fronts.
Roster moves continue, particularly on defense
After trimming ten players from their roster at the end of last season, with another trio out of contract, the Columbus Crew's roster was looking very bare - particularly on defense. Those empty spots have slowly started to fill, although many vacancies remain. One of the out-of-contract players, Danny O'Rourke, has signed a new contract. Veteran defender Tyson Wahl has also joined the Crew. The 28-year-old Wahl has previous experience with Kansas City, Seattle, Montreal and most recently Colorado.
While the team has retained O'Rourke, another defensive target was lost. Defender Carlos Mendes, who frequently partnered Chad Marshall in the center of the back line, has instead chosen to join the New York Cosmos of the lower-division NASL. He was the club's first professional signing.
The team's third signing - also a defender - is Chad Barson. Barson is the fifth player signed from the team's youth academy, and the second this off-season after Wil Trapp made the jump in December.
The third out-of-contract player, Emilio Renteria, will apparently not be returning. The forward/winger, who endeared himself to fans with his physical style of play, told team officials that he wanted to pursue opportunities in his native Venezuela.
Crew snubbed from national team
US National Team coach Juergen Klinsmann named no Crew players to his roster for the traditional January training camp. It has now been more than a year since any Columbus player was called up; the last was Robbie Rogers, who joined the team in November 2011 for a pair of friendlies against France and Slovenia. Rogers has been the only member of the Black and Gold to play for Klinsmann.
While the senior team has been unable to place a player with the full national team, the club has seen younger players called up to age-level teams. The most recent is rookie midfielder Wil Trapp, who has been tapped by coach Tab Ramos for a training camp with the U-20 National Team. Ramos is attempting to lead the USA back to the U-20 World Championships after the country failed to qualify in 2011. This year's qualifying tournament takes place in Mexico in late February.
Four members of the Crew Academy have also been called to residency with the U-17 National Team. Goalkeeper Carter Richardson, midfielder Ben Swanson and forwards Nathan Kohl and Ahinga Selemani will join 27 other players as the U-17s prepare for their qualifying tournament later this year.