Gregg Berhalter said Columbus Crew SC would not move winger Justin Meram unless the team received an offer that could significantly help the club. This followed Meram requesting a trade this offseason, reported both due to seeking another challenge and the uncertain of potential relocation.
The Black & Gold got what they were looking for.
Crew SC traded Meram to Orlando City SC in exchange for $1.05 million in allocation money plus an international roster spot. The news was first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle.
“We want to thank Justin for his contributions to this club and community throughout his time in Columbus,” head coach Gregg Berhalter said in the press release. “We put a lot of effort into finding a solution that would keep Justin in Columbus for the 2018 season and beyond (after signing a new TAM deal in 2017). However, when another MLS club approached us with more than a seven-figure offer, we sat down with Justin to evaluate all of our available options and agreed that this move was in the best interest of both the club and the player. The significant resources acquired with this transaction allow us to add a talented attacking player or two to this year’s roster as we look to return to the MLS Cup Playoffs. We have enjoyed watching Justin’s game develop over the past four years and we wish him luck as he moves forward.”
In return for Meram, Columbus received $300,000 in Targeted Allocation Money for the 2018 MLS season, $300,000 in General Allocation Money for the 2018 season, and $450,000 in Targeted Allocation Money for the 2019 season.
This is the second time in just over a week Crew SC has traded a want-away player. Ola Kamara was dealt to the LA Galaxy on Jan. 19 in exchange for Gyasi Zardes and what could amount to $500,000 in allocation money after he too asked for a trade following an inability to reach a deal on a new contract.
Meram was drafted by the Black & Gold 15th overall in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. The Iraqi international spent all seven of his first professional seasons with Crew SC and is fifth on the all-time appearance list with 188 games played for the club.
Longest tenured #CrewSC player. If this is accurate, new senior player will be Federico Higuain. Meram would depart the team 5th in games played (188), 9th in starts (134), 6th in goals (37), 7th in assists (33), and perhaps most impressively 3rd in game winning goals (13) https://t.co/d9u3F4f7Gs— Ben Ferree (@ben_ferree) January 29, 2018
The question now shifts to what Crew SC do from here.
Berhalter and his staff have known for some time that Meram wants to move and what it will require to part ways with him. The head coach and sporting director has mentioned possibly adding another attacking piece before the start of the Major League Soccer season, and now doing so becomes an even bigger priority.