The Columbus Crew is approaching the end of the season with just six games left. The defending MLS Cup champions will need a dominant run in its final regular season games with help from other results to extend its season. Every player’s performance matters even more now and the Crew signed someone that can help the team over this final stretch.
French right back Steven Moreira was signed by Columbus in late August to add extra depth at that position. Moreira came to Ohio from France where he spent the first decade of his playing career. The 27 year old switched from playing in Ligue 1 and 2 in France to the United States as a long-term addition to the roster.
Moreira first got convinced to play in MLS by friends who played in the league to help his decision to come to America.
“I spoke to friends who play in the league at the LA Galaxy and Minnesota (United) and they spoke highly about the league,” said Moreira.
He also got a call from the Crew front office and liked the approach of the club.
“I had many conversations with them,” said Moreira of head coach Caleb Porter, president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko and others. “The project seemed great. What I liked about our discussion is I was going to join a club that was very family oriented and at the end of the day, it’s the MLS Cup champion.”
The Frenchman made his Black & Gold debut in the Campeones Cup against Cruz Azul where he played 58 minutes and won a trophy with a 2-0 victory in his first game for the club. His first MLS match was against the Philadelphia Union on Sunday with a completely opposite result from Campeones Cup. Moreira played 66 minutes in a 3-0 loss to the Union in a dismal game for the Crew.
“Wednesday was obviously a great start for me, especially with winning the cup at the end,” said Moreira. “I haven’t played for a while but I had a good feeling on the field. On Sunday, I was feeling better and better despite the bad result. We are just going to get better and perform better.”
Moreira’s number will likely get called more after recent news that starting right back Harrison Afful suffered a minor knee sprain against Cruz Azul, keeping him out for multiple weeks. Porter mentioned shortly after signing Moreira that he is a long-term addition. He will now step in for a short-term role in some massive games.
“I think he’s done a very good job integrating quickly,” said Porter. “He’s a good pro, he’s a good guy and he has a nice energy about him, a big smile. That always helps when you are a positive guy and a team guy. The players have quickly grown to like him and they see his quality. It’s just about him getting as quick as we can to full fitness and full form and they obviously integrated into how we play and gain a little bit of chemistry with the team.”
Moreira and the Crew will continue to train for the next week before an Oct. 16 match against Inter Miami at Lower.com Field. The locker room atmosphere might have taken a tilt downwards after the Philadelphia loss but Moreira is helping to improve the attitudes towards this final stretch.
“It’s easy to integrate a guy like him cause he is a good player and a good guy,” said Porter. “We feel like he will have a positive consequence for our team, for our locker room, and for our play.”