COLUMBUS, Ohio – Defender Carlos Mendes was born in New York. He played his entire MLS career with New York City’s franchise.
But on Monday, the 30-year-old center back was selected by the Columbus Crew in Stage 1 of the Re-Entry Draft Process, ending seven years with the MetroStars/New York Red Bulls and beginning a new chapter of his MLS career in Ohio.
“It’s part of the business,” he said of the move, which was made possible when New York declined his option. “If you play sports, you know anything can happen. It’s a great opportunity at this point of my career and I’m excited to play for the Crew.”
Mendes has played professionally with other teams in the past, starting out with the USL First Division Rochester Rhinos and the USL Pro Select Division Long Island Rough Riders from 2003-04 after a four-year career at Old Dominion University in Virginia.
The defender joins a Crew team that's made the MLS Cup Playoffs in each of the past four seasons, winning it all in 2008 as well as back-to-back Supporters’ Shields in 2008 and '09.
“I know they’ve got a great organization and the team is always competitive, having played against them for a lot of years,” Mendes said.
The Crew view him as depth at center back, but with Julius James out until at least early March after undergoing shoulder surgery, Mendes will be given every opportunity to start alongside Chad Marshall.
“He can help the team,” Crew head coach Robert Warzycha said. “There’s nothing wrong with having another quality center back.”
Added technical director Brian Bliss, “He gives us great leadership. He was a part-time captain over [in New York] when other players were injured. He was next in line.”
In his seven years with the Red Bulls, Mendes has played 146 regular-season games (128 starts) and made 11 postseason appearances, logging 11,498 minutes.
“I’ve played a lot of games in this league,” Mendes said. “I’ve been around for seven years. I understand how the league works. … I’ve been through the ups and downs at New York. If you ask anybody who knows me, I’m a hard-working player, an honest player who’s going to try to help this team.”
Mendes has never scored an MLS goal, tying him in that statistical category with former New York teammate and current Crew defender/midfielder Danny O’Rourke, who has put together 152 scoreless appearances in his seven MLS seasons.
“Knowing Danny, I’m going to say I’m going to go out and score first,” Mendes joked. “We’ll have some fun with it.”
“Obviously, I’m a defender first,” he added. “Getting a goal would be a nice plus, but that’s not my strong point. I’m sure the Crew didn’t bring me over to Columbus to score too many goals.”