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Examining Columbus Crew's Unprotected

I know Columbus seems like an odd place to start this series, but given some recent information I feel like we may actually have a couple choice picks, particularly for our still barren backline.

For those that don't yet know, the Columbus Crew FO came out with a list of players they have no intention of protecting during the off season. Basically meaning that those players are completely open for the Timbers to take come November 24th. Chief amongst those players? Star striker Guillermo Barros Schelotto and veteran captain Frankie Hejduk, along with midfielder Duncan Oughton and defender Gino Padula.

While I can't speak directly for the latter two players given that I don't have a terribly large amount of experience with the current Crew team, I will say that the former two could be choice pick ups for the Timbers, with Hejduk possibly being the better of the two.

Now, there is a reason why Columbus is letting both players go: they're both getting old and they want to go young. Schelotto is 37 and Hejduk is 36. But, given that out first 4 players signed are all relatively young, this doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing. Sure, Schelotto likely only has another year in him (especially as a striker) and Hejduk probably only has two years left, but their veteran attitudes and abilities could go along way in helping out our younger players, particularly Dike who is young enough to be taught new things without having to fight off old habits.

Of course, according to the Columbus Dispatch, for the 2011 season Schelotto is going to be charging DP price once again at a requested salary of $650,000/year. This is obviously too high of a price for the Timbers, in my opinion, to be spending on an aging striker (no offense Guillermo). As much as I'd love to have his abilities on our team, if we were to go after a DP I'd expect him to be younger than 37.

Hejduk, on the other hand, seems like an honest and realistic choice for building our team, possibly even captain material. Being a veteran backline defender he seems to have a good grasp on leading the backline, as he has done for Columbus the last few years. Additionally, if we were to bring in some younger defenders in the, we'll need a coordinated captain to get them into shape. MLS strikers are only getting better with each passing year and it's become plainly obvious this season that defense is what wins games.

Therefor, my call for Columbus is the Timbers will snag Hejduk.

[Columbus Dispatch]