After carrying 34 players through the beginning of the preseason, the Columbus Crew has released midfielder Shawn Sloan and parted ways with midfielder trialist Konrad Warzycha, and have signed rookies Ben Sweat and Kingsley “Fifi” Baiden to their first MLS contracts.
Sloan was re-signed by the Crew after not making an appearance for the first team in 2013, and Warzycha, who made 13 appearances for Columbus in 2013 and was the son of former Head Coach and Crew player Robert Warzycha.
“It's the worst part of the job, and I honestly believe that,” Berhalter told reporters after the Crew's last training session before departing for Orlando. “These are guys who put in three weeks of really good effort, and you have to tell them they're not a part of that anymore, and that's not easy.
"Hopefully we can get them connected with another team and keep their careers going.”
Berhalter said that the efforts of both Baiden and Sweat have impressed him in the preseason, and both earned their first contract with hard work in training, especially Baiden.
“They've been good,” he said. “[Baiden] has been a warrior out there in training and working really hard... With [Sweat], I think we see a lot of potential in him, and he's going to be a good player.”
Both players, Berhalter said, could see playing time as early as in 2014, though he expects both to be long-term projects.
“I wouldn't be surprised if they both got on the field this year,” he said. “I would hope so. That's our goal, to get them on the field.”
The club now sits at 30 players under contract, with third-round draft pick Adam Bedell and trialist Patrick Slogic joining the team on its trip to Orlando this week.
Though Berhalter had said previously that he only plans on keeping three of his four signed goalkeepers on the roster for the season, he seemed to appreciate what having the four 'keepers meant for training purposes.
“I like the ability to train with four keepers,” “They've been doing a good job, and I think we'd like to have four keepers around in preseason.”
Another option for trimming the roster would be putting Homegrown signee Matt Wiet on the disabled or season ending injury list, which would leave one open roster spot for the club. Wiet has been rehabbing from ACL surgery last fall.
“We have to see how [Wiet] comes out of this injury,” Berhalter said. “He's progressing well... but we'll keep evaluating him, and IR might be the route we're going.”