Head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter has been holding the cards close to his chest when asked about Columbus Crew SC’s main areas of need when going to the transfer market for the 2018 season. Knowing Berhalter, this is not surprising.
But there’s one thing he cannot hide: the club will look for goalkeepers.
With only Zack Steffen, who developed in to one of the best goalkeepers in Major League Soccer in 2017 and had his name linked with the U.S. National Team, signed for 2018, the Black & Gold will need to add at least two new shot-stoppers to its squad following the club’s decision to not exercise the contract options of either backups Brad Stuver and Logan Ketterer.
With most of the teams around MLS having already announced their contract options for 2018 and MLS free agency set to start soon, there are several different options that could be explored by the Black & Gold in the upcoming weeks.
Here are three of them:
Alec Kann (Atlanta United)
The 27-year-old Kann held the fort in Atlanta until Brad Guzan’s arrival in the summer. He had 18 starts during the season, with four clean sheets, and helped the Georgians to collect eight wins early in the season after combining for only eight matches with the Chicago Fire and Sporting Kansas City in the first four seasons of his career.
Kann is expected to be relegated to the third option on the goalkeeping depth chart for Atlanta with the recent signing of former FC Cincinnati’s goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt. That could motivate him to pursue other options and he would do well as backup for Steffen, especially since he’s making only $77,000 per year.
Chris Seitz (Free Agent)
The 30-year-old veteran’s contract with FC Dallas expired at the conclusion of 2017, ending his seven-year tenure with the Texans. A veteran of 11 MLS campaigns, the California-native has amassed 100 starts in the league, dressing for the Real Salt Lake and the Philadelphia Union as well.
Seitz has spent most of his career as a backup, which was the case in 2017, when he was behind Jesse Gonzalez in Dallas and only saw the field five times, but his 2016 regular season was impressive, with 28 starts and only 29 goals conceded. His last salary number was $153,000 and he would probably need to accept a pay cut to join Crew SC in 2018.
Nick Rimando (Free Agent)
I believe Rimando still has a starting spot in MLS, most likely returning to Real Salt Lake, but if that’s not the case, he could be the perfect mentor for Steffen as his backup. At the age of 38 years old and with one FIFA World Cup and 15 years with the national team, as well as almost 500 MLS matches under his belt, the veteran has a lot of experience to share.
His price tag ($470,000 in 2017) is prohibitive and he would have to accept a lot less to sign with Crew SC, though. Several NBA stars join contenders for very low salaries in the last years of their careers as they chase one more title before retiring and if Rimando embraces this cause, the Black & Gold would welcome him in Columbus.