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Columbus Crew confirm link to Greek striker Dimitrios Papadopoulos, won't say if offer made

Gregg Berhalter in COLvCLB

Photo Credit: 
USA Today Sports

The Columbus Crew are reportedly interested in signing an experienced European striker. But if they have interest, they aren't yet ready to tip their hand publicly.

After being linked with Greek striker Dimitrios Papadopoulos, Columbus Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter wasn't prepared to make a comment on the rumor Monday afternoon, but noted that he's not surprised at the link.

"I'm going to take my party line of late and say that I'm not going to comment on players that aren't on our roster," Berhalter told MLSsoccer.com by phone from the MLS All-Star festivities in Portland. "I would add that there are tons of forwards in the world, and we're evaluating a lot of them. So I could understand being linked with a guy here or there. It happens."

Berhalter said the club has "evaluated," Papadopoulos, making the link legitimate, but wouldn't confirm or deny a report from journalist Chris Paraskevas on Twitter that the Crew had offered the former Greek international a one-and-a-half-year deal.

Despite having scouted the 32-year-old, Berhalter was quick to caution that there isn't a mold that the Crew are looking to fill in their new striker, and that they have a variety of options when it comes to age.

"It's an entire spectrum," he said. "There are a couple different ways you could go. It could be a short term thing, or it could be a longer term with a younger guy. We're looking for quality, and we'll judge how that quality fits into the bigger picture as it comes."

Some teams avoid older players and others embrace them, but Berhalter said he's open to the idea of bringing in a player with some age, especially given the relative youth of the Crew.

"You evaluate that, and how long the contract could be and how long it could be," he said. "I think older players can bring a lot to the group, in terms of experience and leadership and getting the team through difficult times because they've been there. I think age can be valuable, especially considering we have probably the youngest roster in MLS."

The physical characteristics the Crew are looking for in a new striker are just as broad. And while Columbus like to play crosses into the box, Berhalter also puts a premium on a player being able to play with the ball at his feet.

"You can go with the bigger style forward, where you can serve balls up to him and he can head balls and is very good in the box, or you go smaller, more mobile, good one versus one," he said. "I think either striker can work.

"We're looking for a guy who can fit into how we do it. He needs to be fairly mobile and good in the penalty box."