COLUMBUS, Ohio – Japanese defender Shintaro Harada is realistic about his chances to make the move from the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the USL Second Division to the Crew.
“It would be a very big jump,” he said. “I’d love to be here and make the team as soon as I can. I know it’s tough to make it, but I’ll keep trying.”
Having been an All-Star in the lower divisions the past four seasons (the first three with Crystal Palace Baltimore), the 30-year-old former J-League player is among four trialists with the Crew this week.
“I’m enjoying it,” he said. “They are top of MLS right now. They have quality players, quality coaching staff and a quality stadium.”
Bringing in players for evaluation is practical for the Crew on several fronts.
“Because of all the injuries, we have only 21 players today with the four guys we added,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “We have to have at least 20 [field] players for practice if we play 11-v.-11 to be competitive.”
Harada’s Pittsburgh teammate, midfielder Tommy Gray, and two Ironbound Express (USL-Premier Development League) players—forward Andrew Konopelsky and midfielder Frank Alesci—have also been training at Crew Stadium this week.
Crew technical director Brian Bliss said none would be signed this year, but the team is looking at players with an eye toward the 2011 season.
“That’s the way to do it,” Warzycha said. “Bring them here this year and so how they do then make a decision. We’re making plans for next year.”
Defender Gino Padula (ankle) did not train Wednesday and is doubtful for the weekend although he might try to practice Thursday. Midfielder Emmanuel Ekpo (groin) trained full speed, and Danny O'Rourke (back) did side work. Midfielder Robbie Rogers (knee surgery) is expected to resume training next Wednesday.
Also, forward Emilio Renteria returned to Columbus on Wednesday after playing 67 minutes Tuesday for the Venezuelan National Team and will be available for Saturday’s match at Los Angeles. Rookie defender Kwaku Nyamekye is expected to arrive from Switzerland on Thursday to fill the final roster spot.
PROCEED WITH CAUTION
The Crew’s appeal of the 1-0 loss at Mexico's Santos Laguna in Champions League play on Aug. 24 was denied by CONCACAF as expected.
To refresh, Rentería re-entered in the 20th minute following a jersey change after he was bloodied. He then set up a goal by Andy Iro off the restart. The Crew said the referee told them he disallowed the goal because Rentería had no number on the new jersey.
However, that is not a violation, and after the game the official’s report said Rentería came onto the field without authorization by the referee. Rentería was also given a yellow card that was not rescinded and will miss Tuesday’s game against Joe Public of Trinidad.
The loss could be eased because Peruvian forward Andres Mendoza, who made his MLS debut in stoppage time Saturday at D.C. United, will be eligible.
Warzycha was asked about the possibility of someday using a South American triangle with Rentería, Mendoza and Argentine forward Guillermo Barros Schelotto.
“I don’t know the history between the countries whether they like each other or not,” he joked.