With the goal to add some offensive punch through the acquisition of a Designated Player stalled, the Columbus Crew have turned toward the guys already on the roster for answers.
And hopes are that Chilean vet Milovan Mirosevic will be one of those who responds.
The midfielder was signed in January with the expectations that he and another newcomer, Costa Rican forward Olman Vargas, would help offset the loss of Andrés Mendoza, who scored 13 times as the DP last year but was not re-signed.
So far, neither Mirosevic nor Vargas has contributed much to the stat sheet. The pair scored in the second game of the season against Montreal on March 24 for their lone points.
“I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Vargas,” Crew technical director Brian Bliss said. “We know he’s a good player. He’s got goals in him.”
Vargas missed two games in May with a hamstring injury and has started seven of 13 matches.
Mirosevic also sat two matches in May because of an adductor strain. He returned last Saturday against New England but was feeling discomfort again during practice this week. Coach Robert Warzycha was awaiting the results of an MRI on Thursday to determine if Mirosevic will be available Saturday at Chicago (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
Warzycha said Mirosevic’s slow start belies his importance.
“He makes everybody around him better,” Warzycha said. “He is so composed on the ball. He’s very calm and that’s what he passes on to other players.”
Said defender Sebastián Miranda: “He’s smart. He’s a leader on the field,."
The addition of another Costa Rican forward, Jairo Arrieta, when the transfer window opens on June 27 should help boost the offense. But the Crew had hoped to also announce the signing of a DP by then. It won’t happen because talks with an undisclosed Argentine forward broke down last week.
Bliss said it became apparent that the player and his club were not serious about making a move because every time the Crew and MLS met a demand, new ones were given.
“I said this, ‘This is a joke,’ so we pulled the offer and actually reduced the offer back to what it was five weeks ago,” Bliss said.
He emphasized that the team has until July 27 in the current window to make a deal and that waiting another month or so is not critical because the acquisition will likely sign for two or two-and-a-half years.
“We’re getting him for the long haul,” Bliss said.
Columbus have now set their Designated Player sights on two players in Europe and one in Ecuador for the lone spot.
And as for any immediate improvement? For the time being, that will have to come from within.