COLUMBUS, Ohio – Guillermo Barros Schelotto returned home to Argentina last week still disappointed by the Crew’s decision to cut ties with him, but reflective of the good times in Columbus.
He said the reception he received in Crew Stadium was like that at his former clubs Gimnasia y Esgrima and, later, Boca Juniors.
“I want to say thanks so much to the fans,” Schelotto told MLSsoccer.com over the phone. “I will never forget them. I feel so good every game in Crew Stadium and in the street, too. I know we will meet again in the future and perhaps sooner than many believe.”
The Argentine's name appeared on the list of unprotected players available in the 2010 Expansion Draft to take place on Wednesday. Despite expressing his desire to play one more season, the Crew decided last week not to renew their option on the 37-year-old forward in their attempt to rebuild the squad with younger talent.
“They said we are making new team, a young team,” Schelotto said. “I said, 'Why? We got in the playoffs the last three years. We won two [Supporters’] Shields and one MLS Cup.' I [told head coach Robert Warzycha], ‘You got a championship team two years and you are disarming it. I cannot understand why. You are looking to be like four or five years ago.'"
[inline_node:317124]Schelotto said he was taken aback by the move because, in late September, he had a discussion with Warzycha after the coach was quoted in The Columbus Dispatch as saying he preferred two forwards in the box rather than Schelotto playing underneath one striker.
“He said, ‘I never said that and we are looking for a striker for you to play with,’” Schelotto said. “At that moment, [technical director] Brian Bliss was in Argentina and Brazil looking for a player.
“That is why I am surprised now what happened,” added Schelotto. “I didn’t get angry because [Warzycha] is the boss and he has to make some decisions. But I said to him, ‘I am not agreeing with you. You are making a big mistake.’”
Warzycha counters with a slightly different version, but the message was similar.
“He didn’t say to me it was a mistake," the coach said. "He told me, ‘I think I can play another year, but I respect your decision. You are the coach so I respect your professional decision.’”
Whatever the case, Crew brass says this wasn't a fun decision but a necessary one. Crew president and general manager Mark McCullers has said the contributions of Schelotto and former captain Frankie Hejduk, who also won't be returning, will be "tough to replace."