Tuesday, January 6, 2015

1.6.2015: So Far, Berhalter's Offseason Work Far Exceeds Other MLS Clubs

Columbus Crew SC boss Gregg Berhalter started his 2015 club transformation early.

He missed out on Mix Diskerud during the August transfer window.

But, on September 8th, Berhalter added 31 year old Austrian international Emmanuel Pogatetz to replace Giancarlo Gonzalez. On October 7th Berhalter then captured MLS journeyman Kei Kamara, through the decision to use his allocation spot to nab the proven Major League Soccer striker.

Kamara returns to Columbus after a eight year hiatus, his last two stops were in England with Middlesborough and Norwich City.

Before those moves Berhalter quietly nabbed the highly touted US U-20 International Romain Gall in a weighted lottery.

Then on October 16th, Berhalter graduated Crew academy top prospect, Ben Swanson. Swanson is one of the top U-18 players in the country and has been in the Crew residency program since the age of nine, a rarity and then some outside of top European academies.

It will be exciting to see how Berhalter fits the seventeen year old Grove City, Ohio kid into the plans over the 2015 season, along with the nineteen year old Gall.

But, Berhalter didn't stop there. Still alive in the 2014 playoffs, the Crew Manager still had eye's on the future.

On October 29th, days before the home leg of a playoff with the New England Revolution, Berhalter signed the just turned 24, Swede midfielder Mohammed Saeid. A West Brom product; the defensive midfielder had 68 appearances, 7 goals with Swedish First Division side Orebro over the past two seasons.

Saeid is also capable of the big moments:

On December 11th, Berhalter went back to his Swedish contacts, and signed 24 year old Kristinn Steindórsson. Another Swedish First Division player, with 77 appearances and 16 goals over the last two seasons with Halmstads BK.

Here's Steindorsson having some fun against Saeid's club Orebro:

Then on January 3rd multiple reports have the Columbus Crew putting an offer down for 22 year old Real Betis/Osasuna winger Cedrick. The offer apparently is around one million, and reports from today state that Cedrick would be fine with trying his luck with MLS or respecting any decision the two Spanish clubs make.

Cedrick has blistering pace and is good on the ball, would be an excellent winger replacement for Bernardo Anor:

On January 5th, the Columbus Crew re-signed Federico Higuain to a multi-year deal. The largest deal in club history.

The Crew are also rumored to be searching for a South American right back to fill that hole from last season.

I would prefer a player like Argentinian 26 year old right back Gaston Diaz:

So, to recap on players picked up almost exclusively for 2015 and beyond:
-31 year old Austrian center back Emmanuel Pogatetz (61 caps with Austria)
-30 year old striker Kei Kamara (around 200 caps, 50 goals already in MLS)
-24 year old Icelandic midfielder Kristinn Steindorsson  (77 appearances in the Swedish First Division over the prior two seasons)
-24 year old Swedish midfielder Mohammed Saeid (68 appearances in the Swedish First Division & Second Division over the prior two seasons)
-19 year old American midfielder Romain Gall (top U.S. U-20 product)
-17 year old American midfielder Ben Swanson (top U.S. U-18 product)

If the Columbus Crew can add Cedrick and a top quality South American right back, Berhalter will have all his shopping nearly done well before training camp begins.

What should make you more happy is comparing Columbus signings to recent business of other teams..

The Chicago Fire just signed today, striker Guly do Prado.
A 33 year old Brazilian, released from Southampton last May of 2014. Has been without a club for the last seven months. Prado has scored 19 goals in 103 games for Southampton, nearly all pre-Premier League. 52 goals overall in 250 matches for 9 clubs over 12 years. Yikes.

So, the Chicago Fire are paying a 1 goal every 5 games, 33 year old; who is likely very rusty and in atrocious soccer shape.

Orlando City threw some cash at Brazilian defender Gustavo "The Refrigerator" Silva.
Andy Iro is that you?

A 28 year old defender considered by Flamengo fans in Brazil as the worst player in club history. Only lasted six games, before being shipped off to the Brazilian second division where Orlando City finally picked him up.

The big club NYCFC signed Ecuadorian 28 year old defender Andres Mendoza Uza
Who has had a pretty underwhelming career in his native Ecuador, and most recently played in the hidden talent gem, the Second Division of Uruguay
The Portland Timbers signed 23 year old Brazilian defender Jeanderson.
Jeanderson was plying his trade in what is considered the 5th division of Brazil.

So, overall, compared to the scouting and decision making of some MLS clubs, I like where Berhalter is going.


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