Gregg Berhalter: Columbus Crew fortunate to add Hector Jimenez, "get back in" SuperDraft with trade
Just when it seemed the Columbus Crew were de-emphasizing the MLS SuperDraft, they launched themselves back into the middle of the first round through a deal on Tuesday with the LA Galaxy.
For their second-round pick (23rd overall) and allocation money, Columbus acquired the Galaxy's 14th overall selection and winger Hector Jimenez. Crew sporting director and head coach Gregg Berhalter said the combination of both was a fortunate coincidence.
“Hector's been a guy that we had been following for a while,” Berhalter told MLSsoccer.com by phone Tuesday. “As it turns out, the timing of the deal made a first-round pick available as well.”
While the league does not reveal allocation numbers, Berhalter said the amount the club spent “wasn't substantial,” and called it a good deal for both teams.
In Jimenez, Berhalter expects a player who will compete for a starting spot and, as has been a theme of his offseason additions, the 25-year-old provides versatility in the Crew attack.
“We're getting a very versatile player, a player who is very technical with good transition speed and likes to combine and can really play the ball in tight spaces,” Berhalter said. “He can play on either side, he can play in the middle. ... We're going to look at him in a number of positions.”
With the likes of young wingers Ben Speas, Ethan Finlay, Justin Meram and Bernardo Añor on the Crew roster and Dominic Oduro likely cementing a starting role, it would seem the Crew have plenty of outside midfielders. But Berhalter said the acquisition was useful nonetheless.
“In that position, I feel that depth is important,” he said. “I also feel that [Jimenez] comes from a good place. He's played with a lot of good players, and he's a high-level player.”
With the Galaxy's 14th overall SuperDraft pick, Berhalter feels the club moved back into the range where they believe they can draft a “contributor slash starter ... a guy who can come in and play some games.”
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“We felt that at 23 we were kind of outside of that bubble a little bit, and we wanted to get back in it,” Berhalter said. “As this deal kind of unraveled, there was a chance for that, and we took it.”
But as he implied after the Crew traded their original first-round selection Monday, there is very little certainty as to whether the team will stay with even the 14th pick.
“With all the talks going around with all the teams, you never know,” Berhalter said. “There are deals being made hourly, so it could change.”