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Porter, Crew get familiarity and flexibility with Guzman trade

The Costa Rican is an extra body in the Crew’s midfield rotation and someone who knows the coach really well.

After Columbus Crew SC’s recent offensive struggles, it was expected that the team’s next move in the transfer market would be bringing in an attacking piece to strengthen the roster. However, the Black & Gold went a different route and signed defensive midfielder David Guzman from the Portland Timbers on Monday instead.

The move might not have addressed the team’s most urgent need, but it became a lot easier to understand when head coach Caleb Porter spoke about it following Monday’s training session, the first of the Costa Rican international with the Crew.

The coach was in Portland when Guzman was first signed by the Timbers, in 2017. The 29-year-old midfielder played 26 matches during that first season and left a good impression on Porter, who didn’t think twice when he figured all the Crew had to give up to bring him to Columbus was an international slot for one season.

“It’s really the first move I made (since my arrival),” the head coach said. “He’s won trophies in Saprissa and fits the vision that I have for a center midfielder. He offers a lot of flexibility. He can play the 6 or the 8, he’s played in a single-pivot 4-3-3, he’s played in a double-pivot 4-2-3-1. He has quality on the ball and if we need him to start attacks in the buildup, he can do that. He also brings a lot of bite in the midfield, he’s a guy who can win balls. He can do a little bit of everything, so I’d say he’s a complete midfielder.”

The benefits of the familiarity between the two go both ways. If Porter is excited to have a player who performed well under him back at his disposal, Guzman is also pleased to be working with the head coach again.

According to the player, who represented Costa Rica at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the two have very similar mindsets, something that makes them connect well and understand each other.

“I have worked with Caleb and I know how he works so that hopefully will ease the transition here,” the Costa Rican said. “I’ve known him for some time and it’s great to see he’s got confidence in me. He’s a coach who’s always looking to win and he tells the players that all the time. That’s my mindset too and it makes it a lot easier that we think in the same way.”

Part of this mindset could be easily noticed when the Costa Rican was prompted to talk about his potential role in Columbus. The Black & Gold have, in theory, two established starters in Wil Trapp and Artur, a situation that could make it hard for him to break into the lineup.

However, as a hard worker by his own admission, Guzman indicated he plans on proving his value to the team and pledging a starting spot through endless dedication on the field.

“To me, my role is to always bring my best,” Guzman added. “When I have an opportunity to play, I need to do it in the best possible way, regardless of whoever I’m playing alongside. I want to win and I always give everything I have and fight for my teammates.”

The Costa Rican’s signing will probably have the roster set for the center midfield position, as other than him him, Trapp and Artur, Porter can also count on veteran Ricardo Clark and second-year player Luis Argudo for the role.

The coach indicated, however, that the club will likely add other pieces, if not now, during the summer transfer window. This need was strongly apparent over the last weeks when the Crew struggled to get results when it needed to rotate player in severe stretches in a short period of time.

“Obviously we know we need some other pieces as well, but we had the opportunity to get him, so we’re not going to look past getting a player like him,” Porter explained. “We know, of course, there are some priorities that are maybe ahead of that. But we’re looking ahead in the summer window and in terms of Gold Cup and we need to make sure that when we lose some of these guys we’re still able to survive and compete and in the games we’ve rotated up to this point, that’s not been the case.”