One of the major issues for Columbus Crew SC in recent years has been a lack of depth at the forward position. While strikers such as Kei Kamara, Ola Kamara and Gyasi Zardes have had plenty of success with the Black & Gold, there has been questions raised as to what is behind the starters on the bench. Those questions could be coming to a rest.
According to ESPN’s Taylor Twellman, Crew SC could be adding D.C. United forward Patrick Mullins in the near future.
The initial report was confirmed by Andrew Erickson of The Columbus Dispatch. According to Erickson, Columbus will send $150,000 in Targeted Allocation Money to D.C. for the striker.
Mullins, 26, was selected 11th overall out of Maryland by the New England Revolution in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. He spent one season with New England, scoring four goals and adding one assist as a rookie. The following offseason, the forward was selected by New York City FC in the expansion draft. Mullins spent two seasons with NYCFC, playing in 31 games (13 starts) and registering six goals and five assists.
Following two years of playing mostly a backup role, Mullins was traded to United for General Allocation Money, Targeted Allocation Money and an international roster spot. Finally able to start games on a more regular basis, Mullins scored 13 goals and had two assists in 34 appearances over his first two seasons with D.C. This season, Mullins played in 10 games, starting just two, but has recently become expendable due to United’s signing of former England international Wayne Rooney.
While Mullins career has been anything but prolific, 23 goals in 96 games, he has never played in a Gregg Berhalter system. The Crew SC head coach has helped revitalize attacking players’ careers in his first four and a half years with the Black & Gold.
After losing Ola Kamara and Justin Meram in the offseason, Columbus started the year brightly offensively, scoring eight goals in the first four games of 2018. But recently, the goals have been harder to come by, with Crew SC getting shutout in three of its last four matches.
Zardes, who came over from the LA Galaxy in the trade for Kamara this offseason, also had a positive start to his Black & Gold career. The forward had eight goals in his first 12 matches this year and was looking like a Golden Boot candidate. But Zardes has just three goals in his last eight contests as teams have looked to shutdown the potent striker.
How Crew SC will use both Zardes and Mullins is another question. Berhalter has rarely played with two forwards, typically only late in games when needing a goal, and adding another forward to the lineup means taking someone else out. Mullins could be used interchangeably with Zardes or to provide depth, but given his contract of $260,000 in 2018, it seems unlikely Columbus are going to keep the new addition on the bench.
This is certainly an interesting move for the Black & Gold and could add another dynamic in the attack, it still does not address the clear need of help on the wings since Meram’s departure. So far in 2018, Crew SC have just two goals and seven assists from the wingers, which have been such an important part of the team’s attack in recent years.
Columbus currently sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 30 points through 20 games played.