Monday night, the Columbus Crew world received a jolt. Tom Bogert,of MLSsoccer.com published an article about Crew forward Gyasi Zardes being on the trade market, per sources. The sources also told the league site that Zardes was also potentially being shopped by the Black & Gold front office. At the time of publishing, there was no response from the Crew front office to Massive Report.
So far in 2022, forward Miguel Berry’s started all three matches in the Black & Gold’s two wins and a draw. Zardes hasn’t started yet, but he’s played in all three games, scoring a goal in the Crew’s 3-3 draw at the San Jose Earthquakes.
Prior to the start of the season, head coach Caleb Porter has been open about the situation between Berry and Zardes, although Porter did mention that they’d both have a chance to start. After the 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps, both Porter and Berry were clear that there’s no controversy within the forward group. Both Zardes and Berry know the situation, which preseason was said to be week-to-week by Porter.
Berry even shared postmatch, after scoring in the game, that Zardes and himself weren’t competing against one another, but actually helping each other to improve. Far from sounding like Zardes was unsettled with the situation, albeit without a formal comment from Zardes.
On the field, Zardes hasn’t shown any signs of being a player on his way out of the club. In the Crew’s 2-1 victory against Toronto FC, Zardes missed an open chance at goal, but created three goal actions in 23 minutes on the field.
Although the situation from the team’s moments with the press doesn’t look like a competition, speculation around a move isn’t new this season. After all, unseating a mainstay in a position is cause for talk around their spot on the team moving forward.
While Zardes is a Designated Player, actively trading the forward without a clear plan for replacement doesn’t make much sense from a Columbus perspective. Berry has impressed since really establishing himself on the first team in July of 2021, scoring eight goals in 17 appearances, nine of those starts.
With that being said, if Berry suffered an injury, the striker role work would go to Erik Hurtado, who Columbus cut after trading for him in 2021, without Hurtado scoring or assisting on a goal in nine appearances in Black & Gold. Porter and the Crew re-signed Hurtado after trying out for the team in the offseason.
If the reports from MLSSoccer.com are true, and the Crew is looking to move the forward, it would have to be under the idea that there’s more coming, possibly in the summer window. Trading the United States international would come with a high price, but slightly lower since Zardes is in the last year of his contract.
This could be a situation where the Crew isn’t saying no to receiving trade offers, or a genuine attempt to move the 30 year old who’s been a leader on and off the field since joining Columbus in 2018.