The trade of midfielder Justin Meram to Orlando City SC signaled the move of yet another high-profile Crew SC player out of Columbus, but supporters shouldn’t worry. Crew SC got an impressive haul for the Iraq national team standout, including over one million in allocation money in addition to an international roster slot.
The breakdown of the allocation funds are as follows: $300,000 in Targeted Allocation Money for the 2018 MLS season, $300,000 in General Allocation Money for the 2018 Major League Soccer season, and $450,000 in Targeted Allocation Money for the 2019 MLS season.
Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter shared that those dollars will be put to good use.
“Well you know we weren’t we weren’t going to do a deal unless we thought we’d get the value that we expected and this is in line with it. This is right in line with it. I think there are a number of clubs that were interested in him and at the end of the day, you know we feel very comfortable this offer and we’re going to use these resources to add both veteran experience and young potential players. Now we think that this will give us the ability to add two, potentially three players to our roster in hopes to make us better.”
Berhalter was quick to praise Meram and his contributions to the club over the years.
“You know Justin is a unique case coming from the draft and just working his way up to be successful in this league. I think a lot of credit goes to him and how hard he’s worked on his game and he is a very good player. I think he would go down as a very good player to play for this club and he’s had a great tenure here and we’re sad to see him go, and we wish them all the best of the next step of his career.”
Meram’s accomplishments are quite impressive. Over the course of his seven-year tenure in Columbus, Meram joined the club’s all-time leaders in several regular-season categories, including: third in game-winning goals (13); fifth in appearances (188); fifth in shots (321) and shots on goal (121); tied for ninth in starts (134); sixth in goals (37); and seventh in assists (33). The midfielder also became one of only six players in Black & Gold history to register at least 30 goals and 30 assists. He earned 25 caps with Iraq, his first coming in the 2014 Gulf Cup of Nations.
Who will replace Meram in the Crew lineup? There’s plenty of options says Berhalter.
“The first thing is that we have some internal candidates that that need to step up and need to show they want to take the position and there’ll be given the opportunity to do that. On the same side we’re looking for players on the international market or the domestic market that can come in and make an immediate impact.”
Berhalter went on to discuss the internal candidates in more detail.
“On the current roster the guys that that we know can play on the left are Mike Grella who’s coming back from injury. You have Cristian Martinez. You have Niko Hansen. You have Pedro Santos. You have Gyasi Zardes. We have a number of candidates that that can fill that role so we feel comfortable with the options we haven within the roster and it’s going to be about how these guys perform in this in this first phase of preseason and how they continue to develop.”
While it is tough to see another Crew standout leave, there is clearly a plan in place and you can expect the 2018 edition of Columbus Crew SC to be even stronger. There will be more opportunities for younger players that have been waiting in the wings and there is an impressive group of international players ready to use their vast experience to make a big impact. It’s also quite possible that Meram, who is 29, has already seen his best years as a pro. The timing of this blockbuster trade could be just right.
Simply put, it’s still an exciting time for Columbus Crew SC.