On Friday, the New York Cosmos announced the signing of former Tottenham midfielder Niko Kranjcar on a short-term basis. To add the former Croatian international, the boys in green and white had to free up an international roster spot, and did so in a way that most of us weren't expecting.
On Friday, COO Erik Stover spoke to Big Apple Soccer, and confirmed that the club has removed Roversio from the roster temporarily, opening up a spot for the club to add Kranjcar while the Brazilian recovers from injuries. Here's what Stover had to say about the decision:
"Roversio arguably has been one of our top two or three players when he's healthy. But he has dealt with some injuries over the past two or three seasons. We want to take our time bringing him back. We don't want to rush him back. We had that problem in the past that he was so important to us we brought him back too quickly. He re-aggravated injuries."
Aside from Marcos Senna, I don't believe that there's been a player as important to the Cosmos on the pitch as Roversio since they rebooted in 2013. There's no coincidence that many of the club's recent midseason struggles have come when the center back was unavailable, and that his return has seen a significant improvement in results. For my money, the Brazilian is one of the best at his position in the United States, and his composure and technical ability have been major reasons that the Cosmos can play the system that they've played.
Fortunately, the 2016 season marks the first time that I really feel comfortable with our ability to cover for a Roversio injury. Carlos Mendes is a known commodity, David Ochieng has the sort of raw athletic ability to be one of the top center backs in the league, and Jimmy Ockford proved to be a useful part during his first spell with the club. In addition, Hunter Freeman has been putting in some work in the center, and will likely transition to the middle full time at some point in the very near future.
The Cosmos, presumably, are still hoping that at least one of their current internationals is granted a green card very soon, but in the short term, this should allow the club to put the best possible product on the pitch while Roversio recovers. With any luck, that will be sooner, as opposed to later. That said, I'd hope we give the Brazilian as much time as he needs, to ensure he's at his best for the US Open Cup run, and potential knockout games in November.