Columbus Crew SC Makes Roster Moves Ahead of International Window

As Columbus Crew SC moves into the summer looking to bolster a lethargic offense, team president Tim Bezbatchenko has made a few roster moves that will give head coach Caleb Porter more options to get goals on the board.

On May 6th, Columbus traded an international roster spot to Portland Timbers in exchange for midfielder David Guzman. Guzman, 29, has experience at the international level with the Costa Rican national team as well as two years with Portland Timbers after a seven-year career with Costa Rican club Deportivo Saprissa. Guzman is expected to play a box-to-box midfield role with Columbus, and showed promise during 16 minutes in the Crew’s 3-1 victory over LA Galaxy and going the full 90 for the 0-3 loss three days later to Los Angeles FC. 

Bezbatchenko also made a three-way trade at the deadline that sends midfielder David Accam to Columbus for the remainder of the 2019 season and then sends him to expansion side Nashville SC. In this unorthodox move, Philadelphia Union gets $500,000 in allocation money and an international roster spot from Columbus and then Columbus gets $450,000 worth of Allocation Money from Nashville in exchange for Accam’s services beginning in 2020. Essentially, this is a loan of Accam from Philly to Columbus until Nashville takes the field.  

Accam, who spent time with Chicago prior to joining the Union, can play either as a winger or forward, adding an attacking option to Gyasi Zardes. Accam has also played in the Swedish leagues and has UEFA Champions League and Europa League experience as well as nine caps for the Ghanaian national team. Accam will bolster to the Columbus attack by adding pace and probably width to stretch opposition defenses. 

But Bez wasn’t done after those two moves. The Crew also traded Justin Meram to Atlanta United in exchange for $100,000 in Allocation money and a second-round pick in the 2020 MLS Draft. Also on the move is Lalas Abubakar, who was sent on a season-long loan to struggling Colorado Rapids in exchange for $125,000 in Allocation Money. Columbus also traded $300,000 Targeted Allocation Money to Los Angeles Galaxy in exchange for $225,000 in General Allocation Money. 

Finally, in a move that surprised some but is absolutely deserved, the Crew announced that 27 year-old forward Gyasi Zardes was signed to a multi-year contract extension that makes him a Designated Player. Zardes is the highest-scoring American in the league since he joined the Black and Gold in 2018 with 23 goals. He is also a regular of the US national team, with 29 starts and seven goals. 

And in a “that’s so MLS” move, the Crew has restructured Federico Higuain’s contract so that the Argentine playmaker no longer counts as Designated Player. Due to MLS disclosure rules, the terms of Higuain’s new contract aren’t known, but given Bezbatchenko’s expertise working within MLS roster rules, there probably wasn’t a pay cut involved in the reclassification, but rather just moving funds around to clear up space in the Columbus roster budget. 

All of these moves are ahead of the FIFA Summer Transfer Window, opening in July, during which the Crew are expected to sign at least one international player, most likely an attacking option, and – possibly – a goalkeeping option to replace Zack Steffen who is headed to Manchester City of the English Premier League.