Columbus Crew midfielder Sebastian Berhalter has been traded to the Vancouver Whitecaps. This news was first reported by Harjeet of The Daily Hive and confirmed to Massive Report by sources close to the team. This has now been confirmed by the team. In return for Berhalter, the Black & Gold receive $50,000 in General Allocation Money up front and $50,000 potentially $50,000 in GAM based on certain performance incentives.
Columbus signed Berhalter, the son of former Crew manager and current United States Men’s National Team head coach, to a Homegrown Player contract two years ago. Since joining the senior team on Jan. 17, 2020, Berhalter had chances on the field but didn’t make the impact the Black & Gold hoped for from the young midfielder.
“We would like to thank Sebastian for his contributions to the Club while a member of the First Team and the Academy,” Crew president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in the announcement. “It’s important for young players to get regular MLS minutes, and ultimately we felt this trade would prove to be beneficial for both Sebastian’s career and for our Club. He will always be a member of the Crew family and we wish him all the best in Vancouver.”
In 2020, Berhalter made his debut at the MLS is Back Tournament. He came in as a substitute in the 4-0 rout of FC Cincinnati to open group play. Berhalter started the next tournament match, a 2-0 victory against the New York Red Bulls, and from there was intermittently used by head coach Caleb Porter. During the remainder of the 2020 MLS Cup-winning season, Berhalter started three more matches and appeared in six total contests.
Initially, it looked like Berhalter was the next midfielder behind Darlington Nagbe and Artur. Towards the end of the 2020 season, however, Porter instead opted to use fellow Crew Academy product, Aidan Morris. In the 2020 MLS Cup Final, which Nagbe missed due to COVID protocol, Porter started fellow rookie Morris in the crucial match allowing for the rookie to have a career performance.
After not playing any playoff minutes in 2020, the Crew sent Berhalter out on loan to expansion side Austin FC for the 2021 season. Berhalter had one assist in 18 appearances and five starts with Austin over the 34-match season, while also battling an injury that sidelined him.
Midfield is one position on the Black & Gold that could afford to lose a player. Currently, the Black & Gold have eight players that can fill the usual two-midfielder system behind the Lucas Zelarayan-led attack. While Artur and veteran Perry Kitchen are injured and awaiting a full return, the midfield group includes Nagbe, Morris, Marlon Hairston, Isaiah Parente, new Homegrown Player Sean Zawadzki and the recently signed James Igbekeme.
At only 20 years old, there’s still a lot of potential in Berhalter. Given the opportunity at roster consistency, the possibility of being a starting midfielder isn’t out of the question for the third-year player. Berhalter joins a Whitecaps side that recently sent a starting midfielder, Janio Bikel, on loan to Spain. With this opening, Berhalter has the chance for more playing time than he would with the Black & Gold.
Coincidentally, Berhalter won’t be the only international coach’s son in Vancouver. Jay Herdman, son of Canada Men’s National Team manager John Herdman is part of the Whitecaps Academy.
It won’t take long for Berhalter to have a potential Columbus homecoming. The Crew welcomes Vancouver to Lower.com Field on Feb. 26, to kick off the 2022 MLS regular season.