COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) -- Columbus Crew SC today announced that it has acquired more than $1 Million ($1,050,000) in Allocation Money - specifically $300,000 in Targeted Allocation Money for the 2018 MLS season; $300,000 in General Allocation Money for the 2018 Major League Soccer season; and $450,000 in Targeted Allocation Money for the 2019 MLS season - as well as an international roster slot for the 2019 MLS season from Orlando City SC in exchange for midfielder Justin Meram. Meram, 29, departs the club after seven campaigns in Black & Gold and was the longest tenured Crew SC player on its roster in 2017.
“We want to thank Justin for his contributions to this club and community throughout his time in Columbus,” said Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “We put a lot of effort into finding a solution that would keep Justin in Columbus for the 2018 season and beyond (after signing a new TAM deal in 2017). However, when another MLS club approached us with more than a seven-figure offer, we sat down with Justin to evaluate all of our available options and agreed that this move was in the best interest of both the club and the player. The significant resources acquired with this transaction allow us to add a talented attacking player or two to this year's roster as we look to return to the MLS Cup Playoffs. We have enjoyed watching Justin’s game develop over the past four years and we wish him luck as he moves forward.”
Selected by the Black & Gold with the fifth overall pick in the First Round of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft on January 13, 2011, Meram had a breakout campaign under Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter in 2014, a season in which he tallied eight goals and seven assists in 32 appearances (19 starts). That same year, the midfielder earned his first cap with the Iraq National Team, making his debut in the 2014 Gulf Cup of Nations’ opening match against Kuwait on November 14. To date, he has 25 caps with Iraq.
Over the course of his seven-year tenure in Columbus, Meram rose to join the club’s all-time leaders in several regular-season categories, including: third in game-winning goals (13); fifth in appearances (188); fifth in shots (321) and shots on goal (121); tied for ninth in starts (134); sixth in goals (37); and seventh in assists (33). The midfielder also became one of only six players in Black & Gold history to register at least 30 goals and 30 assists.
In 2017, Meram made 34 regular-season appearances (32 starts): 25 as a left midfielder, eight as an attacking midfielder and one substitute appearance as a forward, recording 13 goals and seven assists. His first goal of the season back in March made him the seventh Crew SC player in history to record 25 career-goals and 25 career-assists. During the 2017 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, Meram made five appearances (all starts) at left midfield, registering one goal and one assist.
Meram scored six goals and notched five assists during the 2015 regular season, en route to reaching the MLS Cup Playoffs. The Michigan native played a pivotal role in Crew SC’s run to MLS Cup as he started in all five of the team’s MLS Cup Playoff matches. On November 22, 2015, his goal against the New York Red Bulls in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Championship became the fastest goal in MLS postseason history (nine seconds). In 2016, Meram made 33 appearances (31 starts) while scoring five goals and providing 13 assists – a career-best mark that included two game-winning assists. Later in 2016, he made his 150th career MLS regular-season appearance and was later named the 2016 MVP for Crew SC. Meram was named the Etihad Airwaves MLS Player of the Month in October of 2016.