After weeks of rumors, the Crew is set to mutually part ways with midfielder Milovan Mirosevic. The Chilean joined the Black & Gold in January 2012 and scored four goals in 26 appearances during his lone season in Columbus.
"[Mirosevic] asked us about three or four weeks ago if it was possible to let him out of his contract for family reasons," Crew Technical Director Brian Bliss said on Sunday. "He has a wife and a daughter, and just his overall comfort with Catolica factored in. We were able to come to an agreement over the weekend and unfortunately, that's the way things work out sometimes. It was a mutual agreement based around his family."
"[Mirosevic] was prepared to come [back to Columbus]. But as it turns out, he really wants to stay in Chile with his family being the primary factor for personal reasons, personal choices. Our players are people, and in extreme situations like this, we do our best to accommodate them," President and General Manager Mark McCullers added.
Though Mirosevic didn't provide the punch in the attack many expected in 2012, the Chilean was a steady contributor in midfield and a leader in the Crew locker room. The Black & Gold are currently working hard to replace him.
"Milo was a big part of this team and unfortunately he had some issues around his family at home," Head Coach Robert Warzycha said. "We had to let him go and be with his family, but we're working very hard to replace him. We have several players in mind and I'm sure before the First Kick, we're going to have someone who is as effective as [Mirosevic] was."
The Crew is already engaged in discussion for a high-profile player to fill the void left by Mirosevic's departure.
"Milo was a high-profile international acquisition and we think that we're going to bring in another high-profile international player that will really help our team," McCullers explained.
During last week's MLS SuperDraft in Indianapolis, trade rumors circulated around Crew midfielder Dilly Duka. On Sunday, the Crew technical staff confirmed it was looking to deal the 23-year-old winger.
"We had a lot of interest in Dilly leading-up to the Draft and he's part of an ongoing discussion with a club right now within the League to consummate a trade," Bliss explained. "At this point, we've asked Dilly to stay out of training for the potential risk of injury and accommodating the possible trade. He's part of an ongoing discussion and hopefully within the next few days we'll be able to close that up."
Entering his fourth season in MLS, Duka may benefit from a change in scenery, as McCullers believes the New Jersey native was never fully comfortable in Columbus.
"Sometimes players don't fit in with the club culture," the President and General Manager said. "I think from Dilly's perspective, he wasn't comfortable here. Sometimes, it's hard to get in a groove or hard to fit in when you're on and off the field like he's been."
"I think Dilly is a good player, but sometimes a player doesn't find a home," Warzycha added. "And even for some good players, they don't fit our system or they can't find the optimum performance. That's why they try to find something different and hopefully, things work out for Dilly."
HORTON ON TRIAL
Bliss and McCullers also confirmed that Homegrown forward and Lewis Center native Aaron Horton is currently on trial with FK Sarajevo in Bosnia. If his trial is a success, the Crew could look to send Horton on loan for a few months to get match experience that has been hard to come by for the 20-year-old striker.
"Horton came to us right around the time Milo did, asking us to explore some opportunities in terms of getting a loan in Europe to help him work to develop his game," Bliss explained. "We talked about it internally and we thought this might be a good opportunity for him to get some valuable playing experience for another team. We hope his trial goes successfully, and maybe we're able to get a loan for him over a six-month term that would give him playing time in a different environment that might be needed."
Added McCullers, "It's a chance for [Horton] to get some minutes in a different environment and improve his game. We agreed to allow him to go do that. We're going to watch his progress closely and we think it will be a good experience for him."
Since being signed as the Crew's first-ever Homegrown product in May 2011, Horton has played just one minute in MLS play. He showed some progress in 2012, scoring the equalizer in the Black & Gold's 2-1 victory over Stoke City FC in an international friendly.
FILLING OUT THE ROSTER
After adding Ryan Finley and Drew Beckie in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, the Black & Gold are positioned to make several player aquisition announcements over the coming weeks.
"We've had some ongoing discussions with guys that are currently on our discovery list who are players from outside the League," Bliss stated. "We'll continue to work on those and we hope to close some of that business up in the next week. We've also got domestic-type discoveries and the remaining picks we own in the Supplemental Draft. Between those three or four mechanisms, we're going to fill out our roster."
"We're trying to find players that will fit in our system," Warzycha added. "We have a couple guys in mind. One is a central defender and one is a central midfielder. They are good players, playing for good clubs, that will give us more depth and they are proven players."
The Crew has also invited several players to next week's training camp at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. that may be capable of making the final roster.
"We've invited a few guys in to preseason camp. We've invited a couple goalkeepers that will take part in the camp at IMG and the camp in Orlando," Bliss revealed. "We have a couple of other players coming in, Blake Brettschneider is a forward who's played in the League and is without a club. We're going to bring him in to take a look at as well. There are some guys who are invitees that we'll have at training camp that will help round out what we need in terms of filling out our roster."
Brettschneider has scored three goals and tallied three assists in 32 appearances over the past two seasons with D.C. United and the New England Revolution.