Rey had made two appearances for only 32 minutes during his time with the Crew, and head coach Gregg Berhalter told assembled media at Tuesday’s training session that the winger was having “a difficult time.”
“[Rey] had some personal issues that were weighing on him,” Berhalter said. “In the end, he expressed a deep desire to return to his home country. It’s not an easy decision.
“We thought he could’ve played a role with our organization, but in the same respect, it’s about life. It’s about him being with his family in this time period, so we allowed him to go back to his home country.”
While the move occurred after the league’s deadline for guaranteed contracts, Berhalter clarified that the “mutual” part of the separation lifts the burden of Rey’s contract from the Crew.
“Meanwhile, we freed up some cap space to make a move, and that’s going to be important as we move forward,” Berhalter said. “We probably have, I would say, a good chunk of cap space. A good chunk. There’s a lot.”
Many fans took to Twitter and other social media to condemn Rey for quitting on the team. But Berhalter cautioned against that line of thinking.
“I don’t think it’s fair to say that,” Berhalter said. “He’s a young player, he’s out of his home country. I’ve been there, it’s not easy. He has no support system here. And as comfortable as he felt here – and believe me, he really enjoyed his time here – he couldn’t perform. He was in a state where he couldn’t perform because he was mentally in another place.
“He had family issues at home, so what could he do? In essence, it is quitting, but he has a lot of reasons for doing so. And for us, we’d rather have room to get someone else than have a guy here who’s not here mentally. For us, I think it’s a blessing in disguise.”
- Get the latest Columbus news at TheCrew.com
And Berhalter promised that roster moves would be coming to a team in desperate need of reinforcements.
“We expect to be active,” he said. “This is what we’re looking to do. We’re devoting a lot of time and energy into a signing that’s going to be exciting for the club and is going to help performance on the field.”
While the Crew are expected to be in the market for a striker, Berhalter said they have even more flexibility with Rey gone and that moves will be made before the summer window closes.
“That’s the beauty of it, is we have roster spots and we have cap space,” he said. “We can address our entire roster right now. With injuries that hit and with some positions being decimated, we’re going to be active with a couple of positions.”