Columbus Crew SC today announced that it has signed Justin Meram to a multi-year contract extension. The 28-year-old is the longest tenured player on the club’s current roster – playing every minute of his professional career for Crew SC – and has made 155 appearances (103 starts), putting him in eighth place in all-time appearances for Crew SC. Meram won the club’s Most Valuable Player Award during the 2016 Major League Soccer season. Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) was used in this transaction. Meram, who began his seventh season with Crew SC on March 4, provided the assist in the club’s opening match in a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire.
“Justin is a player that has become synonymous with Columbus Crew SC,” Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter commented. “He has developed into one of the better playmakers in MLS over the last few years and one of the leaders at the club. We are excited to have him commit to the club and the city of Columbus as we seek to build on our rich history of success.”
Meram was chosen by the Black & Gold with the fifth overall pick in the First Round of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft on January 13, 2011. In 2014, Meram had a breakout campaign under Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter, in which he tallied eight goals and seven assists in 32 appearances (19 starts).
That same year, the midfielder earned his first cap with the Iraq National Team, making his debut in the 2014 Gulf Cup of Nations’ opening match against Kuwait on November 14. To date, he has 20 caps with Iraq. Playing at the international level has been a turning point in Meram’s career.
“Playing for Iraq was a choice I made in 2014 and it’s one of the better choices I’ve made in my career. It’s really exposed me to the world, exposed me to a different level, playing with quality players all around Europe, that play in Asia. For me, it has really advanced my name to another level and I’m very thankful to represent my country whenever my name is called and I hope to continue to be playing for my country.”
Meram scored six goals and notched five assists during the 2015 regular season, en route to reaching the MLS Cup Playoffs. The Michigan native played a pivotal role in Crew SC’s run to MLS Cup as he started in all five of the team’s MLS Cup Playoff matches. On November 22, 2015, his goal against the New York Red Bulls in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Championship became the fastest goal in MLS postseason history (nine seconds).
In 2016, Meram made 33 appearances (31 starts) while scoring five goals and providing 13 assists – a career-best mark that included two game-winning assists. He made his 150th career MLS regular-season appearance by starting at D.C. United (September 28). In addition to being named the 2016 MVP for Crew SC, Meram was named the Etihad Airwaves MLS Player of the Month in October and named to the MLS Team of the Week during Week Seven.
On October 16, 2016, Meram notched his 25th career assist in a match against the New York Red Bulls. To date, Meram has tallied 24 goals and 27 assists and he has provided an assist in each of his last five MLS regular-season matches. He is in ninth place on the all-time assist list for Crew SC and is one of only eight players to reach 20 career goals and 20 career assists for the Black & Gold in regular-season action, joining the likes of Jeff Cunningham, Brian McBride, Eddie Gaven, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Brian Maisonneuve, and current teammates Ethan Finlay and Federico Higuain.
“This contract extension means a lot to me. Having this club believe in me for multiple years to come is something that throughout my career I’ve worked hard to achieve,” Meram concluded. “It’s definitely an honor to have this extension, but I’m not going to take my foot off the gas – I’m going to strive for bigger and better things.”
Prior to joining Crew SC, Meram appeared in 41 matches (40 starts) for the University of Michigan from 2009-2010, scoring 24 goals and recording 14 assists. While with the Wolverines, Meram earned back-to-back Second Team All-Big Ten honors his junior and senior year in 2009 and 2010.