The Columbus Crew have agreed to a major move to move forward Gyasi Zardes. Originally reported by ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, the Crew traded Zardes to the Colorado Rapids of the Western Conference.
Sources confirmed to Massive Report that Columbus receives $300,000 in General Allocation Money for 2022 from the Rapids, but that could increase to as much as $1.25 million in allocation if certain incentive-based performances are met. Zardes is in the last year of his contract and Colorado will take on his full budge charge.
Throughout the early 2022 MLS season, a lot was made about the Black & Gold’s striker position. In a weekly “who’s starting this week” conversation between forwards Miguel Berry and Zardes, it’s been Berry that’s started six of seven matches for Columbus, with Zardes starting one but coming into each match as a substitute.
The speculation over a potential Zardes move began early in the season. During the preseason, head coach Caleb Porter said that he would use both Berry and Zardes in the attack. Berry started the first four matches of the season in the role Zardes played for the Black & Gold since 2019 after he was acquired from the LA Galaxy for forward Ola Kamara while the Crew also received $400,000 in allocation money.
On March 14, MLSSoccer.com’s Tom Bogert reported that Columbus was open to trading the two-time MLS Cup champion, claiming that the Crew was shopping the forward, which Porter and the Black & Gold denied was the case. Porter, however, did say that the door wasn’t shut on listening to offers on Zardes.
Friday, in media availability in preparation for Saturday’s Crew match against Sporting Kansas City, Porter mentioned that if Columbus can’t score goals, the team will have to go out and acquire goalscoring. This is the expectation now after acquiring these resources. Sources stressed to Massive Report that the Black & Gold intend to use the money from the Zardes move, assuming it goes through as expected, to sign a Designated Player, a spot that will open when the striker moves to Colorado.
In his over four seasons with the Black & Gold, Zardes scored 54 regular season goals and three in the MLS Cup playoffs. Zardes was part of Columbus’ 2020 run, where the Crew lifted the MLS Cup after defeating the Seattle Sounders 3-0. In the Black & Gold’s run to the title, Zardes scored a goal the first round against the New York Red Bulls and scored and assisted in Columbus’ conference semifinal against Nashville SC.
This isn’t the only business the Black & Gold has done with Rapids in the past few years. On May 8, 2019, Columbus sent defender Lalas Abubakar to Colorado for a season-long loan that turned into a permanent deal after the University of Dayton defender excelled for the Rapids. Before the 2022 season, the Crew traded center back Aboubacar Keita to Colorado after he didn’t find his footing with the Black & Gold.
Zardes will join a Colorado team in what looks like a good situation for both parties. The Rapids sit in 10th place in the West with nine goals scored in seven matches. Zardes brings with him a long history of goal scoring in MLS and is looking to earn his way back into the United States National Team ahead of the 2022 World Cup. The forward joins a team that will likely give him more playing time than he’s received under Porter’s 2022 Crew side.