On Monday, MLSSoccer.com’s Tom Bogert reported that the Columbus Crew was open to trading forward Gyasi Zardes. The report also stated that sources told him that Zardes was also shopped around to other teams for a potential trade. On Friday, Crew head coach Caleb Porter didn’t mince words when asked about the report.
“I know nothing about the article,” said Porter referencing the report. “Nothing’s changed from our end. We’re not trying to shop Gyasi. If that’s what came out in the article, that’s inaccurate.”
Porter continued his time praising the Black & Gold’s situation at forward. As he’s said before, the head coach likes having two starting-caliber strikers, essentially a manager’s dream scenario. So far in 2022, third-year pro Miguel Berry has started all three matches for Columbus. Although that’s the case, Zardes has also seen the field in each match, and both have produced.
During the Feb. 26 home opener, Berry scored the first goal in a 4-0 rout against the Vancouver Whitecaps. A week later, Zardes came off the bench and scored the Crew’s third goal in a 3-3 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes. Both played but neither scored in a 2-1 win against Toronto FC last weekend.
It’s also important to note that while he’s started the first three games, Berry’s starting position is not guaranteed. Porter has said all preseason, and now into the fourth match week of the regular season, that form will dictate who starts. Saturday against Toronto, Berry had a quiet match with one shot on goal, which was deflected. Zardes came into the game in the 68th minute and didn’t score but created three goal-scoring opportunities that weren’t converted.
A comment used by Porter in the preseason about “owing” a start to Berry was used to support the Zardes trade rumor in Monday’s report. Porter addressed that wording used.
“When I said I owed Miggy (Berry) the start, it was because he was performing well, not because, I was trying to repay him for being a nice guy to me or something,” said Porter. “The team played well (with Berry) and we won the last three games that he played so he deserved it based on performance. I don’t just hand out a start. It has to make sense for the game.”
That could make sense this weekend against the New York Red Bulls. New York’s given up only three goals in three matches so far in 2022. The Red Bulls also led the league last season in the fewest goals allowed with 33 in 34 matches. Zardes has experience playing against New York and knows the different looks the Red Bulls could bring.
Zardes’ reaction was also brought up by not only Porter but team leaders in captain Jonathan Mensah and midfielder Darlington Nagbe. Both shared the same sentiment that Zardes isn’t impacted by the report and that he’s continuing his preparation like usual.
When Mensah was asked how he responded internally to the report, he showed why he wears the captain’s armband. The defender said that he not only spoke with Zardes but the front office to see if there’s anything in the reports.
For professional athletes, a trade rumor is commonplace. Echoed by Porter was the convenience of the Monday report and how it’s replicated throughout seasons. Anytime a team has a possible starter sitting on the bench, other teams will call about their services. While Porter closed any notion of Zardes being shopped, he did say that if Columbus gets calls, they’re going to at least answer, as they would with any player.
With Berry receiving starts over an MLS veteran and United States National Team member, speculation is going to grow. While outside that speculation will continue every week that Berry is named in the starting 11, within the team it’s a different story.
“Gyasi is very professional,” said Porter. “We value him. He’s a good player. Right now, there’s nothing else we’re thinking about.”
Columbus’ sights are set on New York.