Ahead of submitting its protected list to MLS by this afternoon's deadline, Crew SC was faced with a quandary: armed with substantial depth, the club knew that in its given state, it would have to leave quality players unprotected and risk losing them.
While the Black & Gold are still armed with a similar problem entering Wednesday's Expansion Draft, the trades today of Bernardo Anor to Sporting Kansas City and Josh Williams to New York City FC helped Crew SC get higher amounts of allocation money for two players that, if left unprotected, would have had a high probability of being selected in the Draft.
"First and foremost, these are always tough decisions," said Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. "You're building a group and you're confident in that group, but unfortunately, the Expansion Draft affects your thinking and affects how your roster is going to look in the next year. In these two particular cases, we felt like we were able to maximize their value and get more out of them than we normally would if we had lost them in the Expansion Draft. We wish them well as they continue in their careers."
It was the culmination of what Berhalter said was a lot of talk between clubs during today's Half-Day Trade Window.
"There's a lot of communication with a lot of teams. You're reaching out to them, they're reaching out to you and you're trying to see what the market is like for your given players."
Crew SC has prided itself on being a player-first organization, and it was important to Berhalter that both Anor and Williams were placed in situations where they have a good chance to succeed.
"We want to take care of our guys. This is an example where we feel like they're both in good spots. Bernardo is going to the 2013 MLS Cup Champs and Josh is going to an upstart club with huge potential. In both cases, we found them good homes and they're going to continue in their development."
The news on Anor, specifically, might come as a surprise to some given that he was recently signed to a new contract by the Black & Gold.
"He was out of contract, so we wanted to reward him for the work he's done this season," explained the Crew SC boss. "Secondly, when we moved him, he was in a situation where clubs knew exactly what they were getting for him. They still wanted him at his new value. That says a lot about his quality."
The focus for Crew SC now shifts to Wednesday's Expansion Draft and beyond. The club has placed a high priority on replacing the talent lost, something that Berhalter is working diligently toward.
"Part of this is that Bernie has done a good job of replacing his value in the League," said Berhalter. "We would look for someone who we feel has similar potential, that we can take him from one level and develop him to a higher caliber player. Josh is similar: we're missing a good player and we're going to have to work hard to find a replacement."
Above all, today's moves help ease the sting of the Expansion Draft for the Black & Gold. Moving Anor and Williams today was the lesser of two evils in that sense. It also helps clear up the Expansion Draft picture for Crew SC, but Berhalter still cautions that Wednesday could result in additional players being selected from the Black & Gold.
"I still think we have some quality guys available. Anything's possible."