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Bezbatchenko makes sense of latest Crew moves, speaks on the future

The Black & Gold president provides insight on the Crew’s recent wheelings and dealings.

MLS: Columbus Crew-Press Conference Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew President Tim Bezbatchenko talks about recent team moves.

Posted by Massive Report on Wednesday, May 8, 2019

While conversing with local reporters, Columbus Crew SC President Tim Bezbatchenko provided some insight on the flurry of transactions made by the club over the last week. He touches on the thought process of each move and the philosophy on how the squad will move forward.

First, let’s get you up to speed on the moves the Crew made in the last several days:

Columbus acquires:
$225,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM)
LA Galaxy acquires:
$300,000 in Targeted Allocation Money (TAM)

Columbus acquires:
David Guzman - Center Midfielder
Portland acquires:
2019 international roster spot

Columbus acquires:
$100,000 (GAM)
Natural second-round pick in 2020 SuperDraft
Atlanta acquires:
Justin Meram - Winger/Forward

Columbus acquires:
David Accam - Winger
Philadelphia acquires:
$100,000 (TAM)
$400,000 (GAM)
2019 international roster spot

Columbus acquires:
$125,000 in (TAM)
Colorado acquires:
Season-long interleague loan of Lalas Abubakar - Defender

MLS Terminology:

General Allocation Money (GAM) - Funds made available to clubs as a way to buy down the salary cap charge of a rostered player. Additionally, GAM assists in offsetting the acquisition cost of signing a player outside of MLS.

Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) - Funds made available to clubs as a way to buy down the salary cap charge of players making more than the league-maximum salary.

Given the whirlwind happenings of the offseason, it was impossible for head coach Caleb Porter and Bezbatchenko to properly assess the roster on-hand for the year began. Now that the duo has been able to observe the roster thoroughly, let the acquisition games begin. Bezbatchenko mentioned that the front office is seeking “how to fit these pieces together” and that he is “a big believer that even if you have a really good roster or a solid roster, you always look to improve.” He continued, “If an opportunity comes to get better and to improve your roster or create competition in specific positions, you do it.”

Why Guzman and what does he bring to the table?

“He’s proven to be a winner,” Bezbatchenko said. ”He has played at the highest level internationally. He can obviously help provide, not just depth, but if Wil (Trapp) is gone at the Gold Cup, he can step in and start. My experience shows me you can never have too many good central midfielders, who are really good on the ball technically. Especially with the brand of football we like to play.” Guzman is technical and will also bring a physical presence to the squad that we haven’t seen in a while.

How can Accam help the club?

“We clearly have had issues scoring goals this year,” Bezbatchenko notes. “For various periods of time, we were creating chances and not finishing, but in a lot of ways we feel like teams are smothering Gyasi (Zardes) and not giving him the time or space. So the ability to pick up a player with pace and physical attributes of David is going to serve us well. We are excited about him.” Ultimately, Accam will give Columbus the much-needed ability to run in behind an opposing backline. His pace will keep opposing defenses honest and create space for the entire Crew attack.

Why loan out Abubakar?

Bezbatchenko was adamant that “all players, young and old, need games, to keep up their craft, to continue to develop.” Part of the development process of an inexperienced player is earning minutes and given the troubles the Rapids center backs have had this season, Abubakar will have every opportunity to earn plenty of time on the field. And the fact that those minutes would be within MLS, rather than a lower division league is a win-win for Abubakar and the Crew.

Fun fact: Due to league rules, Abubakar cannot play versus the Crew in regular season play.

Additional Notes:

Designated Player - When asked about the upcoming summer transfer window, Bezbatchenko stated that the team iss open to bringing a Designated Player to the club. He noted that the club hired their Director of Scouting, Neil McGuinness. a couple of weeks ago, and they are now scouring their networks to see who would be available and a fit for the team.

Philosophy – Bezbatchenko emphasized the mentality behind these most recent transactions and any future ones, is finding a balance of improving the roster today and tomorrow. The idea is to remain competitive in the Eastern Conference this season, but not make any drastic moves that would hinder the club long-term.

Losing Streak – Bezbatchenko was asked point-blank if the five-game losing streak was at all a factor in finalizing these deals. He stated, “We learned more about our self during this period.” He continued, “That makes me more comfortable doing transactions, in terms of identifying needs that we have.” He reiterated that MLS is a league of momentum and that the playoff race will be a grueling battle. The deals weren’t knee-jerk reactionary, and that most deals are discussed well ahead of the transfer window conclusion, but that the deadline date puts an onus on clubs to finalize decisions.

Justin Meram – Bezbatchenko thoroughly expressed his appreciation for Meram’s time with the club and that he wished him well moving forward.

It is clear that Porter and Bezbatchenko have a plan in place and are willing to methodically make the proper modifications to the roster to construct a contending club. Yes, it is imperative to always strive to be competitive, but building a winning franchise is painstaking and a long winding road, full of peaks and valleys. Given the turmoil of the franchise in recent times, Bezbatchenko is making the moves necessary to judiciously right the Crew’s ship.