Since late April, the Columbus Crew has been looking to add a Designated Player forward to the roster to help the team’s attack. At that time, the Crew traded striker Gyasi Zardes to the Colorado Rapids for a deal that could return over $1 million in General Allocation Money, a move that opened space to bring in a younger player to lead the team’s attack.
The Black & Gold may have found that player. Sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed to Massive Reports reports that Columbus is working on a deal to bring forward Mauro Manotas to the club. Monotas, who will turn 27 this summer, is currently under contract with Liga MX side Club Tijuana, where he signed in December of 2020.
Sources previously told Massive Report that the Crew had a list of five to six strikers the club was interested in from various leagues around the world. The Black & Gold were hopeful to bring in a player in his prime who could quickly adapt to Major League Soccer and his new team. The hope was also to find a player who could play in a true No. 9 role in a one-striker formation but has the versatility to work alongside another forward at times or in other formational setups.
Massive Report also learned that Columbus hoped to have a player signed and announced well before the MLS secondary transfer window opens in early July. This would allow time to get international paperwork complete and for the player to train with the team ahead of being able to actually take the field in MLS play.
According to sources, no deal with Tijuana for Monotas is complete as of this writing but negotiations are ongoing. Other options are still being considered as well in case a deal cannot be reached.
In addition to reaching an agreement with Tijuana, the Crew also has to move up the MLS allocation order as, according to The Athletic’s Sam Stejskal, Monotas would be subject to the MLS allocation process. Currently, FC Cincinnati holds the top spot in the allocation order — the Black & Gold are ninth — so Columbus would have to make a trade to move up in order to complete a deal for Monotas.
Monotas is a name that is likely familiar to MLS fans. He signed with the Houston Dynamo from Colombia’s Uniautónoma Fútbol Club in May of 2015. While Monotas failed to score in MLS play in his first season with the Dynamo, he quickly rebounded to have a prolific career in Houston.
The striker scored 51 goals and registered 17 assists in 149 games, 107 starts, over six seasons with the Dynamo. His most prolific year came in 2018 when he registered 19 goals, tied for fourth most in MLS, and one assist in 33 games, 31 starts. Monotas had two other double-digit goal scoring seasons in Houston, including scoring 10 goals in 2017 and finding the back of the net 13 times in 2019.
Since moving to Liga MX, Monotas has appeared 21 times in all competitions, registering seven goals.
The Crew has struggled to score goals throughout the 2022 MLS season. The Black & Gold have struck the back of the net just 17 times through 16 games played this year. Only eight MLS teams have fewer goals. Columbus’ leading scorer is midfielder Lucas Zelarayan who has four goals but hasn’t scored since March 12.
Forward Miguel Berry, who took over as the team’s starting forward from Zardes prior to his trade, has just two goals this year, tied with Erik Hurtado and Darlington Nagbe for third most on the roster.