Gehrig Arrieta
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Berhalter focused on building strong team after Expansion Draft

It's been a wild week for Crew SC in the player movement department.

After the proactive trades of Josh Williams and Bernardo Anor ahead of the Expansion Draft, the Black & Gold lost two players that they held the rights to during Wednesday's Draft: Jairo Arrieta and Eric Gehrig. While Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter acknowledged that it wasn't optimal to lose talent, in the end, he was pleased with the development and where his club remains as of this moment.

"I think Orlando picked up two good guys, two good players," said the Crew SC boss. "As far as we're concerned, they're guys who were good leaders and a pleasure to have on the team. As far as our group right now, I'm comfortable with it. I think we did a good job of protecting the young core of the team and we look forward to building a stronger team for next year."

Arrieta's option was declined by the club earlier in the offseason, and Gehrig, while out of contract, had remained in negotiation with Crew SC. Berhalter acknowledged the loss of both, saying that Arrieta was a striker who had value in the League and also that Gehrig, later traded from Orlando to the Chicago Fire, was an important presence because of his intangibles.

"Eric is a fantastic guy and he had a very positive impact in the locker room," said Berhalter. "We knew by exposing him that there was a risk that he would be taken. Like always, we try to find situations for our players and we hope that he's going to end up in a good situation where he can continue playing and making a good impact in the League."

After the selection of Arrieta, Crew SC was entitled to move one exposed player onto the protected list. That choice, Ben Speas, was made quickly by Berhalter and his staff.

"To be honest, Ben was one of the last guys that we were deciding on, whether we were going to protect him or not," said the Crew SC boss. "He's another guy that we see a lot of potential in. His situation this year, playing behind Federico [Higuaín], wasn't easy. Federico is on the field a lot. We want to get him more game time next year. We want to play him in different positions next year. The decision, at the time, when Orlando picked Jairo, we had to pull someone back and he's a guy that we want around next year. We wanted to make sure he stayed."

Although Crew SC passed in Wednesday afternoon's Waiver Draft, the club has both phases of the Re-Entry Draft coming up, as well as the potential to make additional offseason signings. That's what's next for the Black & Gold as they attempt to replace the talent lost this week.

"Looking at the Expansion process, we wanted to be proactive," said Berhalter. "Having said that, we're looking at four players gone from our roster. There's about 5,200 minutes of playing time lost, 11 goals and three assists that are going. We're going to have to replace that. What we gained was allocation and the ability to keep a lot of the guys together the way we wanted within the salary cap. We have work to do now to replace them but we're confident we'll be able to do so."

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