COLUMBUS, Ohio – Technical director Brian Bliss said the Crew’s newest signing, Chilean defender Sebastián Miranda, reminds him of another South American defender who until recently played for the team.
“He’s kind of like Gino Padula,” Bliss said, referring to the Argentine who did not have his contract renewed after the 2010 season. “We always said Gino was a career left back. He knew how to play that spot. You plopped him in there and you don’t have to worry about him unless he’s injured.
“I know (Miranda) is faster than Gino was,” Bliss added. “He’s got that sense about him. He’s relatively calm under pressure. He has enough experience that if things don’t go right for him for a couple of games you don’t have to sit him out for a while. He can play his way through it because of his experience."
Miranda, 30, was signed Thursday after spending all but a few months of his career in Chile. He had a short stint at Austria's Red Bull Salzburg in 2005 but played the past three years with Unión Española of the Chilean first division.
He is 5-foot-8, 154 pounds and speaks very little English.
“He is quick to defend in 1v1 situations, tactically sound and brings a lot of experience to our back line,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said.
Miranda can play anywhere on the backline but was acquired to replace the 36-year-old Frankie Hejduk on the right side.
“He’s not an overly aggressive guy that’s going in and smashing guys,” Bliss said. “He’s more of a good tactical defender. His positioning is good.”
Bliss is not worried that Miranda will need time to adjust to a new country, league and team.
“We’ve got enough Hispanic guys on the roster,” said Bliss. “Our locker room in general is relatively friendly, sometimes too friendly for my liking, but that can be to the benefit of the player coming.”
Miranda has a wife and young child that will join him in Columbus once preseason ends in mid-March.
Cunningham talks still ongoing
In other Crew news, Bliss said talks with former Crew forward Jeff Cunningham are still at an impasse. Cunningham, the second leading scorer in MLS history, was chosen by the Crew on Dec. 15 in the second stage of the MLS Re-entry draft.
Bliss said no deadline has been set but he did tell Cunningham’s agent the current offer might be off the table when training camps open Jan. 20.
“We have a certain type of player we want,” Bliss said. “If have to wait until the June (transfer) window to get him, we’ll hold onto that money and do that then.”
Bliss said if Cunningham does not sign, the club would be interested in former Crew forward Stern John, a free agent who is rehabbing in Columbus from knee surgery last summer.
Also, hopes are dimming that the Crew will sign former Kansas City Wizards defender Aaron Hohlbein after he was selected in the first stage of the Re-Entry Draft on Dec. 8.