The Columbus Crew needed a forward with Gyasi Zardes and Bradley Wright-Phillips both unavailable, so the Crew went out and got a player who can help the team in the short term and potentially in the future. The Black & Gold have made a trade for CF Montreal’s Erik Hurtado. In exchange for Hurtado, Columbus will send $200,000 in 2021 General Allocation Money back to Montreal.
Hurtado, 30, is in his ninth year in Major League Soccer after he was a first-round pick, No. 5 overall, by the Vancouver Whitecaps in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft out of Santa Clara. In total, the forward has scored 19 times and registered 11 assists 140 MLS appearances, 60 of those starts.
According to the MLS Players Association, Hurtado’s guaranteed compensation for 2021 is $245,682. Massive Report learned that, as part of the deal, Montreal bought down Hurtado’s salary with GAM, so the Black & Gold will not pay that full amount.
With Zardes away on international duty with the United States at the Gold Cup and Wright-Phillips still out with a thigh injury, the Crew is in a difficult spot when it comes to its attacking options. Zardes has scored four of the team’s 11 goals so far this season, all of which have come in the last five games.
Wright-Phillips signed with Columbus in the offseason after spending last season with LAFC. The MLS veteran was expected to step in during the Gold Cup when Zardes is away, but an injury has limited Wright-Phillips to just six appearances and 202 minutes so far with the Black & Gold.
Hurtado spent the first six seasons of his career in Vancouver before he was traded to Sporting Kansas City shortly after the 2018 season in exchange for a second-round 2020 MLS SuperDraft selection and a 2021 first-round pick.
After two seasons with Sporting, Hurtado signed a one-year deal, with a reported option of an additional season, with Montreal prior to this season.
Hurtado did not get off to a hot start in his MLS career, failing to score a goal, while registering two assists, in 15 appearances, four starts, as a rookie. It wasn’t until May of the following season when Hurtado finally opened his MLS scoring account, ironically against the Crew in a 1-0 win. Hurtado finished his second professional with five goals and three assists in 30 MLS games, 19 starts.
The Fredericksburg, Virginia native only played nine times for the Whitecaps in 2015, starting one game. He spent much of the season on loan to Norwegian Tippeligaen side Mjøndalen where he played in 11 games while scoring once. He returned to Vancouver for the 2016 season, becoming a regular contributor with 51 appearances, 23 starts, scoring seven times and providing five assists over his final three seasons in Vancouver.
After making it to the Western Conference Finals in 2018, Hurtado joined a Sporting team looking to make another run. Unfortunately, Kansas City finished in 11th place in the West and did not make it back to the MLS Cup playoffs. Hurtado suited up 13 times for Sporting in 2019, making eight starts and scoring twice.
In 2020, Hurtado tied his career high with five goals in 15 games, three starts, for Kansas City, helping the team finish first in the Western Conference standings before losing to Minnesota United in the West semifinal.
So far this season, Hurtado has appeared seven times for Montreal, making two starts, with one assist to his name.
In addition to being able to play as a forward, Hurtado has experience playing on the wings as well. Along with Zardes and Wright-Phillips, the Crew is currently without wingers Kevin Molino, Luis Diaz and Derrick Etienne, who are all at the Gold Cup with their various national teams.
“We would like to welcome Erik to Columbus,” Crew president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in the press release. “Erik is a versatile, powerful forward who has valuable experience in our League and provides us with another option on offense. His addition to our roster will ensure that we have another proven MLS goal scorer to call upon when needed, especially during this particularly congested season.”