One for the future: Columbus Crew add US Under-20 attacking midfielder Romain Gall
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Columbus Crew missed out on their attempt to acquire Mix Diskerud Wednesday, but their consolation prize is another national team name, though it may be a smaller one.
Via weighted lottery, the Crew acquired United States U-20 midfielder Romain Gall on Thursday.
Gall, a French and American dual national, signed with France’s FC Lorient in 2011 and spent time with the club’s youth and reserve programs while in France.
Crew head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter said he knew of Gall before the lottery, and Crew midfielder and youth national team player Wil Trapp knew him from international camps.
“[Gall] was available to every team in the league, and a couple teams put in requests for him,” Berhalter said. “But we were familiar with him. [Trapp] has played with him at times, and we’ve watched video and gotten some feedback. We monitor the youth national team programs pretty closely.”
Berhalter said he’s excited to see what Gall can develop into.
“We feel like this is a kid with ability,” he said. “He’s 19 years old, great attacking ability, dynamic, part of the youth national team program. We feel like it’s a good addition to the team. We’re looking forward to bringing him in.”
Gall is expected to join the team either Thursday or Friday, but Berhalter said it would be a reach to expect him to feature for the Crew this season.
“Any impact he makes is going to be a pleasant surprise,” Berhalter said. “He’s 19. We’re going to get him into it, get him integrated, but we’re going to bring him in slowly and not put too much pressure on him to perform, but bring him along the right way.”
Rather than loan him to USL Pro affiliate Dayton Dutch Lions, Berhalter said that he’d like to keep Gall around the team.
“We want him, first and foremost, to learn our system and to be training here with us,” he said. “We’ll evaluate the game time as it comes.
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In the 4-2-3-1 system that Berhalter prefers, the coach said Gall could fit anywhere in the bank of three behind the lone striker, and made it a point to emphasize that Gall has goal scoring ability.
“He’s one of the wide attacking midfielders, central attacking midfielders,” Berhalter said. “He can score, he can make assists, he’s good one on one, he’s dynamic. So I think he’s an interesting player.”
Berhalter agreed that the presumably cheap acquisition is about risk-reward, though he’s not concerned about the risk.
“It’s more reward, because there’s no risk associated with it,” he said.