Saturday, February 27, 2010

Roster Deadline Looms

Not exactly a really worrisome deadline, but Monday, March 1st, all MLS teams are supposed to have their roster narrowed down to the 24 player limit. That doesn't mean that there won't be any other players coming in, or staying in camp, but it means that the Wizards will have to make sure all they only have 24 players under contract. By my count the Wizards have 23-24 players currently under contract, depending on whether or not Korede Aiyegbusi is officially signed at this point or not.

First, the team can have 4 developmental roster players on the team. Generation Adidas players fall under the developmental category. That means that the Wizards have 3 of those developmental slots filled already by the team's 3 GA players, Teal Bunbury, Roger Espinoza, and Chance Myers. That means the team has 1 developmental slot left. Last year, Matt Marquess and Boris Pardo were the team's two other developmental players. Pardo, who is likely still under contract, could be kept for the time being as the 4th developmental, but once the season starts, I don't expect him to be on the roster.

That leaves the Wizards 18-20 senior roster slots for this season. Let's break those spots down by position.

Goalkeeper: Eric Kronberg and Jimmy Nielsen. Both these players are currently under contract and will likely be there come opening day.

Defender: Matt Besler, Jimmy Conrad, Pablo Escobar, Michael Harrington, Aaron Hohlbein, Jonathan Leathers, Lance Watson. I think both Leathers and Watson are two players on the bubble at this point, they both are potential right backs and at this point, Myers appears to be the favorite for that spot, and with Jack Jewsbury being able to play that position, one or both of those two could be making way for other senior roster players.

Midfielder: Davy Arnaud, Stephane Auvray, Santiago Hirsig, Jack Jewsbury, Igor Kostrov, Graham Zusi. The midfield seems to be a position the Wizads continue to bring in plenty of trialists this preseason. All 6 of these players seem likely to make the roster this year though.

Forward: Kei Kamara, Michael Kraus, Josh Wolff, Zoltan Hercegfalvi. The Wizards seem to be set here, although I'd be a little worried if I was Kraus, as he could be one of the odd men out of the senior roster players. The other 3 I would expect to be safe for this season.

With those 19 out of the way, it's time to look at the players still in camp that are not under contract (or are but not officially in the case of Aiyegbusi). Come Monday I still expect most, if not all, of those trialists to still be in camp. You have goalkeeper, Louis Crayton, who according to Peter Vermes in the Star is the "favorite" of those goalkeepers currently in camp to win the starting spot. With Nielsen under contract I don't expect Crayton to be on the 24 man roster come Monday, but he could still be in camp.

The team's other Moldovan trialist, Alexei Casian is still with the team, and is a midfielder or froward that could still have a shot. Birahim Diop, who has been spending a lot of time this preseason playing with the "first team" in games is likely to stick around as well. Of the remaining trialists, the newest is Iranian, Shahriar Dastan, who is a central defender, but appeared to play in the midfield on Friday against LA. Mauro Fuzetti is the Wizards lone unsigned draft pick still in camp (if Aiyegbusi is in fact signed). Finally, Ryan Smith, the former Arsenal youth player, appears to be the most likely trialist to be earning a contract. Will that be announced before Monday's deadline? I doubt it, but if we do in fact sign Smith, we'll be seeing at least one more senior roster player leaving (or one drop to a developmental salary and see Pardo dropped).

Either way, the Wizards shouldn't be very active come Monday's roster deadline.

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