MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

Sources: Columbus Crew open to trading USMNT forward Gyasi Zardes

The Columbus Crew are open to trading center forward Gyasi Zardes, sources tell

Sources across the league said Zardes was at the very least available and the Crew are open to moving him, with a few sources heavily expecting a trade in 2022. One source went as far as to say he’s being shopped. No conversations about a potential deal have advanced, per a source.

Zardes, a Designated Player and regular with the US men's national team, hasn’t started any of the Crew’s first three games, with head coach Caleb Porter opting for forward Miguel Berry.

He is in the final year of his contract with Columbus. Given that status, Zardes would likely have a big say in if a trade happens, as it's unlikely a team would trade assets to acquire Zardes without assurances of signing him to a contract extension.

The 30-year-old joined Columbus in a trade from the LA Galaxy in 2018 and was an instant revelation. He has scored 54 goals in 106 appearances with the Crew, winning MLS Cup 2020 over Seattle Sounders FC. He has scored fewer goals every season since his 2018 club debut with 19 tallies, though.

Berry, 24, came on strong at the end of 2021, with eight goals and two assists in 840 minutes. Zardes and Berry each have one goal to start the season, with the Crew picking up seven points from their first three games (2W-0L-1D record).

Porter said he “owed” Berry a start in their 2022 season opener vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC after his 2021 form.

Porter has also downplayed any semblance of a controversy, calling it normal competition and saying the Crew want to have two productive forwards. Porter’s 4-2-3-1 formation leaves room for only one to start.

Zardes has 14 goals in 68 appearances with the USMNT and has been a regular call-in for World Cup qualifying matches after returning from injury. At his age, Qatar 2022 likely represents his only chance to make a World Cup roster. Regular playing time would be key to his hopes of making the final 23-man squad, should Gregg Berhalter's side advance via Concacaf's pathway. He's started two of the USMNT’s 11 WCQ matches so far, Octagonal losses at Panama and Canada.

If Zardes departs, it would open a DP spot for the Crew alongside midfielders Lucas Zelarayan and Darlington Nagbe. Behind Berry, Erik Hurtado is another option at center forward.