The precious senior roster spots
August 12, 2008

Have you noticed the absence of Hunter Freeman in the lineup? The starting right back for most of the past two years, a US Under-23 international, was nowhere to be seen against DC. Not even on the bench. Even with Dane Richards out, and Freeman seeming the most capable candidate to fill in right midfield, Juan Carlos Osorio elected to go with rookie Luke Sassano.

So where is Freeman, you ask? Has he been traded, sold, or released?

No, no, and no. Freeman is still on the team. But recently, he informed Osorio that he is going to sign with the Norwegian club IK Start for 2009. So the head coach decided that that's all he needed to hear. "When a player knows that he's leaving, it's very difficult to ask a player to be 100 percent committed to the club," Osorio told the NY Post. "I don't want any more distractions."

So Freeman sits, awaiting his release to the land of fjords and herring. And Osorio might have a point here, so we will not debate his decision. What is interesting, however, is that Freeman takes up a precious senior roster spot.

Flash back to earlier this season. Osorio signs Andrew Boyens; to fit the New Zealander on the senior roster, he is forced to cut Metro's top draft pick, Eric Brunner. Move forward to the summer. With at least three signings pending, second-year pro Sinisa Ubiparipovic is forced to take a major paycut and move from the senior roster to the developmental one. Clerly, senior roster spots were at a premium.

Now they seem to be a luxury.

Jozy Altidore was sold. Claudio Reyna retired. Oscar Echeverry was put on the season-ending injury list. Zach Thornton was traded to Chivas USA. That, with Sinisa's demotion, opened five senior spots. Three of those were filled, with Jorge Rojas, Juan Pietravallo, and Gabriel Cichero. But that leaves two spots wide open.

Which is excellent... if those slots are to be filled until the league's transfer and trade deadlines close. And with Osorio looking high and wide for a striker, something might happen sooner rather than later. There is interest in Atlanta's Macoumba Kandji, but SoccerByIves reports that the USL team wants an insane $200,000 fee for the Senegalese attacker. Panamanian youngest Gabriel Torres, once on trial at Manchester United, is also on the radar, reports the NY Post.

So here's hoping that those senior roster spots become precious not because of their scarcity, but because of the players who fill them.

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