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Agustin Viana looks ahead as his time with Columbus Crew SC closes

After two years, 24 appearances, and many fond memories in Columbus, Agustin Viana looks to continue his career with a new challenge.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

After two full seasons in Columbus, former Crew SC midfielder Agustin Viana's time seems to have come to an end with the club after his option was declined for 2015.

But Viana might not be going far. While he prioritizes spending the holidays with his family, his agent is working on his future, a future that could see him move to another MLS club.

"MLS is a really excellent league, and I think it's growing up, as everyone knows," Viana said Sunday. "It would be a great experience (to stay)."

At 31, Viana still says he has his best playing days in front of him. And while he's very open to the possibility of staying in MLS, he said he knows interest exists from other countries as well. But with his age comes a new way of making decisions.

"I know that sometimes in other countries there are opportunities with more money, but at a certain age with my family, we have to (think of) other things like stability," he said. "I know I could be playing in a good league. So we're waiting to decide. My manager is looking for...the best opportunity for the future."

That stability was a key to Viana's time in Columbus. Born in Chicago, the Uruguayan found a new home in Ohio with the team, fans and community.

"For the family...and my kids, living in the United States and living in Columbus has been a great experience; we're very happy here," he said. "We'll miss a lot of Columbus. The people here have been really kind to us. I have two kids from Columbus. They were born here. So we don't know. We have to make a decision on what we're going to do."

With the end of his career in the not-so-distant future, Viana said there's even a possibility that his family could stay in Columbus permanently, whether he leaves or not.

"That could be," he said. "We're really happy here. It's a really family-fitting, where everyone has been so good to us. We're really happy here, and (staying) could be an option."

His neighbors aren't the only ones who welcomed Viana to Columbus. Almost immediately, the friendly veteran began learning English, permanently affixed a smile to his face and earned a cult following for throwing his body around the field with reckless abandon.

The way Crew fans embraced him, he said, was one of the highlights of his time with the club.

"I've played in a lot of places and the Crew (fans) are really in my heart," he said. "The people are supportive of me and with every player. When everyone was there chanting, it was good. A lot of teams I've gone, people like that I give everything of me for every ball, so it's kind of the recognition that you give everything and play with your whole soul."

But Viana's time in Columbus obviously wasn't perfect. Viana played 20 games in 2013, but only earned four starts last season, buried behind excelling midfielders Tony Tchani and Wil Trapp. And while he says he prefers to look forward rather than back, Viana wished his second season would have gone differently.

"I think in my first experience in the United States, it took some time to adapt," he said. "But I think it was a good year. I was happy. I played a lot, except when I was injured.

"This year it was harder because I didn't start playing, and with my age that's difficult because you start losing shape. Then when you can play it's not the same. But I think that when I did play I did perform. I played well and scored a goal and earned a penalty and was voted MVP of the match by Crew fans. So I didn't play (many) games, but I thought I did good."

Despite the disappointment, Viana had time for some praise for Crew Head Coach and Sporting Director Gregg Berhalter.

"I think [Berhalter] is really doing a really good job," Viana said. "He's very professional; he's a great person; he's a great coach. I'm disappointed in my year because every player wants to play and I wanted to play too, and I did everything to show him I could play. But I think he's doing really good things here... and I think the group is really meshing."

Typical of his demeanor, Viana is taking his uncertain future in stride. And while his emphasis is always on his family, the Uruguayan isn't riding off into the sunset just yet.

"This is what soccer is about. So if you ask me what I'm thinking now about my time with the Crew, I like to think more about the future than the past. I always train to be a better player every day, and I know that the best of myself is going to come, I just don't know where.