Eloy Room didn’t need Columbus Crew SC. He chose to be a part of the Crew.
Despite coming into the summer without a club after his contract expired with Dutch side PSV, Room had a number of suitors. Other teams in Holland reached out to Room’s agent about acquiring the 30-year-old goalkeeper but signing with a new team was second on his priority list.
Room was set to represent his Curacao National Team at the 2019 Gold Cup, and that was his major focus.
“I told my manager, after the Gold Cup I want to decide my future. I was not busy with clubs,” he said.
After playing in the 2017 Gold Cup and losing all three games, Room and his Curacao teammates were determined to do better this time around. Even though they heard how well they played two summers ago, the team did not score a goal or register a single point at the CONCACAF tournament.
This time was different.
After playing and winning a tuneup tournament in Thailand, Curacao came into the Gold Cup confident. The island nation lost its first game to El Salvador but defeated Honduras 1-0 in the second match with Room posting a shutout. Curacao then tied Jamaica in the final group stage game, granting the team passage to the knockout rounds.
The quarterfinal is where Curacao ran into the United States. Despite losing 1-0 to, the Curaçaoans outplayed the Americans, controlling more of the ball and recording more shots. Room made two saves and showed good ability to organize a defense and play with the ball at his feet.
Back in Columbus, the Crew had recently lost goalkeeper Zack Steffen to a transfer to Manchester City and were looking for his replacement. While Room was a player on the Black & Gold’s radar before the Gold Cup, his performance in the tournament only cemented that he was the goalkeeper to go after.
Once the Gold Cup was over, it was decision time for Room. Was it back to Holland or to Major League Soccer to join the Crew? According to the goalkeeper, the decision was ultimately an easy one.
“I was interested in MLS,” Room told Massive Report. “A couple of years ago, I already spoke to some old teammates that played in the MLS that I played with in Holland. So I already knew some guys that played in the MLS and they were telling me good stories about the MLS and the life is good in the States. So in my head, I was already with the MLS. After that, Columbus came to my manager and the feeling was right.”
Room was a perfect fit for the Black & Gold. Playing in Holland for much of his entire career, Room had to be good with his feet, something head coach Caleb Porter requires of his goalkeeper. He also had to step into Steffen’s shoes as the leader of the backline, something that comes natural to Room.
What was a bit of an issue for the new goalkeeper was getting to know his new teammates quickly.
“It’s always a little bit difficult in the beginning,” Room admitted of joining a new club. “You don’t know the names and the coach and you must talk a lot of English. I’m used to talking English in the squads I’ve played because in Holland we have a lot of foreign players, but still it was a little bit difficult in the beginning.”
There was not much in the way of introductions.
Room arrived in Columbus in the middle of last week. On Thursday, the goalkeeper trained with those players who didn’t make the trip to take on the Chicago Fire. Friday was his first training sessions with the whole team. By Saturday, Room was the Crew’s starting goalkeeper against the Montreal Impact.
In his debut for the Black & Gold, Room was not tested frequently. With the Impact content to sit back and look for chances on set pieces and counter attacks, the new goalkeeper only faced two shots on goal, saving one, in the team’s first MLS win since early May.
While Room first appearance for the Crew doesn’t show much in the statistical column, his leadership at the back was apparent in the match and a big reason why he wasn’t required to make more saves.
“I try to help the guys, especially the younger guys,” Room said. “If I talk a lot with the guys it’s also good for myself. I stay sharp, I stay in the game. So I’m used to this.”
It’s been a busy last few months for Room, going from PSV to the Curacao National Team to Columbus. Now that the goalkeeper has his club and is getting settled in his new city, he can focus on what he does best and that’s keeping the ball out of the back of the net.
And given how this Crew season has gone, the Black & Gold could certainly use a keeper who can do that.
“That was a nice beginning for me,” Room said of his debut. “Then I think the experience I have is when I play games, I know what to do and help the guys. For me it’s normal. If I can play a game, it doesn’t matter (in what country) I play. I just help the team and try to stop the ball.”