UPDATE (April 22, 7:20 pm ET) – The Colorado Rapids have acquired US men's national team striker Gyasi Zardes in a trade with the Columbus Crew for $300,000 in General Allocation Money, the clubs announced Friday.
Columbus could also receive up to an additional $1.1 million in GAM if Zardes reaches multiple performance metrics and re-signs with Colorado for three years following the 2022 season. He'll be a Designated Player for the Rapids.
“Gyasi is an elite level attacker with a strong history of production and a successful track record both in MLS and with the US men’s national team,” Colorado executive VP & general manager Pádraig Smith said in a release. “His character, mentality, experience and goalscoring prowess will greatly benefit our team. We’re thrilled to bolster our offense with his signing and look forward to welcoming him to Colorado.”
The Rapids will pick up the remainder of Zardes’ full budget charge for the 2022 MLS season. He was in the last year of his contract with the Black & Gold.
“First and foremost, we want to thank Gyasi personally as he has been an important member of the Crew and the Columbus community since joining in 2018. We know Gyasi quickly became a fan favorite given all of his contributions both on the field and throughout Central Ohio and we did not take this decision lightly,” Columbus president & general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in a release.
“When we think about the type of character and family we want in Columbus and in this league, Gyasi is a wonderful example of someone who fully embraced what it means to be a Crew player. He will always be a part of Crew history and our Black & Gold family.”
ORIGINAL (April 22, 4:16 pm ET) – The Colorado Rapids have reached an agreement to acquire US men's national team striker Gyasi Zardes in a trade with the Columbus Crew for $300,000 in General Allocation Money, pending league approval, sources confirm. Zardes waived his no-trade clause for the move.
ESPN's Jeff Carlisle first reported the news. A source adds that the Rapids hope Zardes could be available for their home game against Charlotte FC on Saturday (9 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+), though that is obviously fluid.
Impact on Columbus
The deal includes incentives for this year and beyond, as reported by Patrick Murphy to be up to $1.25 million GAM, though a source told MLSsoccer.com that the incentives are very ambitious. This summer, Columbus are in the market to acquire a forward with their newly opened Designated Player spot. Midfielders Lucas Zelarayan and Darlington Nagbe are their other DPs.
MLSsoccer.com reported in March that Zardes was very available, with a trade seeming likely. Zardes was in the last year of his contract and had been a DP for the Crew. Colorado haven't carried any DPs in the season's early stages.
Zardes, 30, had fallen behind Miguel Berry in Columbus' depth chart, starting just one of their seven games this season. Playing time will be a key factor in Zardes having a chance to make the USMNT's Qatar 2022 World Cup squad, with the battle for minutes at center forward wide open. He has 14 goals in 68 caps.
The veteran forward initially arrived in Columbus in a trade from the LA Galaxy in 2018 and was an instant revelation. He scored 54 goals in 110 regular-season appearances with the Crew, winning MLS Cup 2020 over Seattle Sounders FC. He had scored fewer goals every season since his 2018 club debut with 19 tallies, though.
Impact on Colorado
Zardes will likely become the Rapids' first-choice center forward, with Diego Rubio able to play through the center or out wide. Rubio has four goals and an assist in seven appearances thus far, though the Rapids have made clear since the winter that they wanted to add another difference-making No. 9 to the group.
Additionally, sources tell MLSsoccer.com that the Rapids have received calls from numerous MLS teams about forward Andre Shinyashiki, though all advances and offers have been rejected. Shinyashiki, the 2019 MLS Rookie of the Year, has started once this season. It's expected more calls will come with the club adding a high-level forward.
Both the Rapids and Crew have eight points after seven matches to start the season. They're also both winless in four straight league matches, with the Crew visiting Sporting Kansas City on Saturday (8:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+).