After losing three players to World Cup call-ups, Crew coach Gregg Berhalter put the kibosh on losing a fourth during the same time period.
Defender Kevan George will not leave for a Trinidad & Tobago team camp due to a lack of depth on the Crew’s defense, Berhalter said.
“A decision has been made, and unfortunately we’re not going to release him,” Berhalter said after today’s training session at Crew Stadium. “We need him here. If you look at the depth that we have on our back line at center back, we don’t have many options right now due to the loss of (some) guys. We had to keep him here.”
George’s call-up was announced May 13. Trinidad & Tobago called up 22 players for a camp that was scheduled to start Tuesday. The Soca Warriors will face Argentina on June 4 in Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires and Iran four days later in Sao Paolo. However, club teams were not FIFA-mandated to release players for the friendlies.
“Their coach was really gracious and really accepting and he told me he understood,” Berhalter said. “I called him and I explained the situation. He’s not the only guy in MLS that is getting held back for that.”
The Crew is missing three starting defenders to World Cup duty: center back Michael Parkhurst (United States) and center back Giancarlo Gonzalez and left back Waylon Francis (Costa Rica). Entering Saturday’s home game against Chicago, the Crew has five available defenders on its roster: Josh Williams, Eric Gehrig, Tyson Wahl, Chad Barson and Ben Sweat. Rookie Ross Friedman is on loan to USL Pro affiliate Dayton and defender/midfielder Agustin Viana – who has exclusively been a midfielder this year after playing some left back last season – has missed much of the week with a stomach virus.
In a Tuesday friendly against the Dutch Lions, midfielder Hector Jimenez even spent some time at right back.
Berhalter said the Crew was going to make a final decision Wednesday. When George was still present at training that day, Berhalter said there were still hours left in the day to make a decision.
“These things aren’t the nicest decisions or the easiest decisions, but it’s for the team,” he said.
George has not seen any MLS action this season after opening the year on loan to Dayton while continuing to learn the center back position. He rejoined the Crew at the start of training last week but was not part of the 18 players that traveled to Portland for last Saturday’s 3-3 tie.
Berhalter said he does not feel pressure to play George after failing to release him for camp.
“If he deserves to play, he’ll play,” he said.
In the story linked above, George said was appreciative of being called up even if he would not get the chance to go. George has made five career appearances for Trinidad & Tobago.
“(I’m) very ecstatic for them to even consider me,” he said. “I’m just thankful for the opportunity. Whenever that time comes and I’m able to go, I will go out there and play.”