Columbus Crew general manager Jamey Rootes is preparing for life without star striker Stern John, but his focus is the MLS playoffs.
SOCCER AMERICA: There has been much speculation as to the future of Stern John. What is his status?
JAMEY ROOTES: Our focus with Stern has to be the playoffs and fielding the most competitive team we can. For sure, nothing will happen with Stern prior to the end of the Major League Soccer season, through the MLS Cup.
SA: If Stern does leave, do you believe you will be fairly compensated by the league?
JR: In our meeting with [Commissioner] Don Garber, he said there would be a quality player coming to us. The challenge with Major League Soccer is we can't make that move on our timing. We have to make that move as a result of a player becoming available or unavailable.
SA: Are you looking for a similar type of player?
JR: It's not necessarily going to be another striker. Our team has done well in an environment without a true playmaker for the last four years. One of the things we'd like to do is add a player like that. The best example is Marco Etcheverry of D.C. United, a player like that who could fill the playmaking role for the Columbus Crew.
SA: How important was it for MLS to sign Brian McBride to a long-term contract?
JR: It's very important competitively. On the field he brings a lot to the table. Off the field he is ù based on the fan research we do ù by far the favorite player on the Columbus Crew. Part of it is his ability. Part of it is his team spirit. Part of it is his high-profile nature. Our fans really like that he has gained local, national and international acclaim as a player. It was vital to the credibility of our franchise to hold onto potentially the best goalscorer in U.S. soccer history.
by Craig Merz