Justin Meram is looking for a move back to Columbus Crew SC and, once again, just might get what he wants.
MLSSoccer.com’s Sam Stejskal reported on Sunday morning that Meram wants to return to Crew SC and talks between the Black & Gold and Orlando City SC have begun. Sources close to the situation have confirmed Stejskal’s report to Massive Report, but the major hang up at this points seems to be a price for Meram.
The winger was drafted by Columbus 15th overall in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft and spent his first seven seasons with Crew SC. After struggling for consistency over his first three seasons, Meram finally found his form under new head coach Gregg Berhalter and assistant Josh Wolff. The Michigan native had a career season in 2017, scoring 13 goals and registering seven assists in 34 games.
During the offseason, though, Meram requested a trade and had his wish granted in late January when the Black & Gold sent him to Orlando for $750,000 in Targeted Allocation Money, $300,000 in General Allocation Money and an international slot.
Despite strong performances early in the year, Meram has struggled overall for OCSC in 2018. The winger has just one goal and three assists in 17 games played. The Lions, who are on their second coach of the year, have gone in a different direction, with Meram not starting any of the last four matches and the player did not travel to Saturday’s game in Columbus. Recently, the winger was granted a three-day leave of absence by new head coach James O’Connor due to “personal reasons.”
According to Stejskal, Orlando is looking to recoup what it sent to Crew SC in a deal. The Black & Gold don’t seem willing to give that much up given Meram’s recent performances. OCSC has reportedly reached out to other teams, including the Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps or future MLS side FC Cincinnati.
From a Crew SC perspective, a Meram return makes plenty of sense. Columbus has struggled to replace the winger’s production with the combination of Pedro Santos, Niko Hansen, Cristian Martinez and Mike Grella combining for just two goals and nine assists in 2018. Although they sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference Black & Gold have just two wins in the team’s last eight games and have scored just three goals away from MAPFRE Stadium.
If a deal is gong to be done, between Orlando and any clubs it has to be worked out somewhat quickly, with MLS’s secondary transfer window closing on Aug. 8. If Meram is to return to the Black & Gold, the Lions will have to be willing to accept the mistake of the trade and settle for less money than they received from Crew SC back in January.