In any training camp, regardless of the sport, there are usually a few position battles going on. Guys fighting for a spot in the starting lineup when the season begins is always a lot of fun to watch as camp progresses. When you look at the Crew’s roster, do they may have just one battle like this?
So, just what position seems to be an open competition? It certainly isn’t up front. Cucho, Diego Rossi, and the gang are pretty well set. Center midfield? Please. Darlington Nagbe and Aidan Morris are the league’s best duo. How about the back line? Steven Moreira and Rudy Camacho aren’t going anywhere and I think Malte Amundsen has a solid grip on left center back. Some feel the team could do with an upgrade from Mo Farsi at right wingback, but he’s done nothing but improve in the last year. That leaves left wingback and this is where some think the fight to be in the starting 11 will occur.
The incumbent is Yaw Yeboah who took over in late April when Will Sands went down with a major knee injury that kept him on the shelf the remainder of the season. While Yeboah may not have been spectacular, he was solid enough to help the Crew win a championship and even scored the game-winning goal in the MLS Cup final. He also understands head coach Wilfried Nancy’s system and that gives him a leg up, at least in the early part of the season, on newly acquired Marino Hinestroza. Many pundits already have Hinestroza penciled in to be the starter at left wingback. I’m not ready to concede the position to him just yet, because I think Yeboah is going to put up a real battle. The wild card in all of this is Sands. The Crew has made it clear they want to see where he is in his recovery before pushing him too much in camp. I don’t doubt Sands will be a factor here as the season progresses and he rounds into form, but at this time I don’t think he’s a threat to be the opening-match starter.
Regardless of who takes the field to open the season against Atlanta next month, all three of these guys are going to be needed in 2024. The Crew will be playing a lot of games and quality depth is going to be paramount. At any position, having three guys you can trust in any situation is a luxury.