Crew and Schelotto “Far Apart”
A mere minutes after the final game of the Crew’s 2009 season, an obviously spent Guillermo Barros Schelotto very clearly said he wanted to stay in Columbus. Warzycha and the Crew want him back too. Seems simple? Just make the deal happen.
Unfortunately, there are over 600,000 reasons that this will not be as easy as just bringing back the best player to put on a Crew uniform. Steve Goff was first to report that upper management at the Crew want the Argentine maestro to take a 50% pay cut. Shawn Mitchell then filled in some details surrounding the negotiations.
The team, either owner Clark Hunt or team president Mark McCullers is looking to get the 36 year old Schelotto back in 2010, but at a non Designated Player salary. The initial offer however is drastically reduced from his $650,000 salary last year. Mitchell tags the offer in the neighborhood of $225,000, a very big drop. I certainly understand why Schelotto would feel slighted.
This does seem very like the team is aggressively looking to cut costs; it would give the Crew much needed salary flexibility for the upcoming season. It would free up a Designated Player slot to use on a big name striker or midfielder.
Possibly more importantly it would free up some money for some of the rest of the team. Several younger players are in line for serious pay increases. Jed Zayner is out of contract and will need a bigger contact than the one that paid him $40,000 last year. Robbie Rogers, Danny O’Rourke, and Eric Brunner are in contract, but are probably due for raises.
As for Schelotto, he still has options. He certainly can go back to Argentina and play or coach. His options in MLS are a little more limited for now. The Crew hold his rights and other teams would have to trade for him under the current CBA. I would expect the Crew could get a decent return on a player who scored 12 goals in 2009 and was league MVP in 2008.
Perhaps this is wishful thinking, but I am confident a deal can be reached. Both sides are posturing on the deal, but I hope they realize that they are a good fit for each other. Schelotto has a good setup living in Columbus. The Crew must realize that Guille also provides something that MLS teams consistently lack, an inventive offensive force.
With a possible Friday deadline looming for the Schelotto situation, Columbus will have a good idea which direction the 2010 version of the team is going.