The Columbus Crew further augmented the roster on Friday, announcing that academy product Sebastian Berhalter, 18, signed a deal to join the first team. Berhalter is the son of former Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter and spent five years in the academy.
Berhalter, a central midfielder, was a starter on several Crew academy teams during his time with youth teams. He featured with the U-13/14, U-15/16, U-16/17, and U-18/19 teams making 103 appearances and 97 starts across all teams. He scored 11 goals during his time. He was a also teammate of resent homegrown signing Aidan Morris on the Crew’s U-19 team that placed third in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy 2017-18 tournament.
During his time in the academy, Berhalter was often tasked with the playmaking position in midfield ahead of the holding midfielders.
Like the Crew’s previous two academy signings, Aboubacar Keita and Morris, Berhalter spent a season playing college soccer before joining the team as a preseason signing. Berhalter made 16 appearances including eight starts for the Tar Heels, the college alma mater of both his parents.
Like Morris and Keita, Berhalter has taken part in the team’s first team activities in the past. He has joined first team practice on multiple occasions and joined the team for preseason in 2019, making appearances against Vissel Kobe and the Charleston Battery.
Berhalter joins a growing group of midfielders on the Crew roster. New signing Lucas Zelayran is tasked with conducting the offense and Darlington Nagbe will be expected to set the tempo. Wil Trapp and Artur return as the primary options for the last starting midfield spot. Morris and Berhalter round out the depth in the middle of the park. Realistically, Berhalter likely will get most of his minutes on loan through 2020 as he adapts to the pro game.
Berhalter has already joined the team in preparation for the start of preseason in Chula Vista, California on Monday, January 20th.