Justin Meram is on his way back to Columbus.
The 29-year-old winger, who spent the first seven years of his career with Columbus Crew SC, will return to the club after Orlando City SC agreed to send him back to Ohio’s capital city. Fox Sports analyst Stu Holden initially reported Thursday night that a deal was imminent.
— Stu Holden (@stuholden) August 2, 2018
Columbus will send the $750,000 in targeted allocation money (TAM) and the international roster slot they received when they traded Meram to Orlando.
Report: Justin Meram to Make Return to Columbus Crew SC
The Black and Gold initially dealt Meram to Orlando in the off-season after he requested a trade. In addition to the above assets, the Black and Gold received $300,000 in general allocation money (GAM) which is staying put.
Meram’s tenure in central Florida has been rocky, to say the least. In his 17 appearances, 14 of which were starts, Meram managed just one goal and three assists. It began drawing frustration and ire from Orlando City supporters, some of whom subjected Meram to what he described to reporters as “death threats.” He took a leave of absence from the club in late June.
Prior to his 2018 struggles, Meram emerged as one of MLS’ top attacking wingers. He combined for 14 goals and eight assists in 2017 as Crew SC advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals where they eventually fell to Toronto FC. His growth under manager Gregg Berhalter was on full display. During the four seasons they were together in Columbus, Meram totaled 35 goals and 31 assists across all competitions.
Meram certainly cemented himself as one of Crew SC’s most influential players during his initial tenure with the club. He’s currently no worse than seventh all-time in appearances (5th), goals (6th), assists (7th), shots (5th), and shots on target (5th). He’s also one of six players in club history to register a hat trick.
Assuming he can realize the form he previously enjoyed in Berhalter’s system, his addition will add much-needed attacking firepower from wide areas. The club has struggled to get consistent production out of their wingers all season. With the team currently fourth in the Eastern Conference, his ability to complement Gyasi Zardes in Crew SC’s attack could augment the club’s status as a legitimate contender.
The Black and Gold are idle this weekend. But Meram should be available for Crew SC’s next match which takes place on August 11. The club welcomes the Houston Dynamo to MAPFRE Stadium that day.