Tim Bezbatchenko addresses Deadline Day moves, summer strategy

Tim Bezbatchenko - Columbus Crew SC - Presser

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Columbus Crew SC roster looks a bit different thanks to a flurry of deadline-day activity, and the team’s president isn’t ruling out the possibility of bigger changes in the summer. 

By the time the 2019 MLS Primary Transfer Window closed Tuesday, the Crew had acquired MLS veterans David Guzman and David Accam in trades with the Portland Timbers and Philadelphia Union.

To make room for the new additions, the club sent winger Justin Meram to Atlanta United after nine nearly uninterrupted years in Columbus, and loaned defender Lalas Abubakar to the Colorado Rapids

At a press conference before the team’s match Wednesday night against the LA Galaxy, Crew president Tim Bezbatchneko told reporters the moves come as part of the continued process of he and head coach Caleb Porter molding the team toward their philosophies.

“You have similar pieces, but a different puzzle,” Bezbatchnko said. “At the end of the day, we have to figure out how all these pieces are going to fit together. I’m a big believer that, even if you have a solid roster, you always look to improve. And if an opportunity comes to get better and to improve your roster or improve competition in specific positions, you do it.”

In Guzman, the Crew add an experienced and capable central midfielder who is likely seen as competition and depth. The hopes for Accam will be higher.

The speedy attacker had scored four goals and added two assists in 337 minutes this year, and Bezbatchenko hopes the Ghanaian will improve a Columbus attack that has scored only twice during a five-match losing skid.

“We clearly have had issues scoring goals this year,” he said. "For various periods of time, we were creating chances but not finishing. Now we feel, in a lot of ways, that teams are smothering Gyasi (Zardes) and not giving him the time and space. So the ability to pick up a player with the pace and physical attributes of David is going to serve us well.”

Bezbatchenko said the moves were made with both short- and long-term goals in mind, and that the team has the flexibility to add multiple impact pieces in the Secondary Transfer Window, which opens July 7.

“It depends on the opportunities and the players we’re scouting, in terms of whether or not this summer is when we’ll bring in a Designated Player, but it’s something we’re looking at,” he said. “We can bring in DPs and convert current DPs to TAM … and bring in one, two, three new players depending on what our budget can provide.”

Regardless of that move, Bezbatchenko reiterated that even in the midst of their slide down the Eastern Conference standings, he has confidence in the bulk of his roster. 

“We believe this roster can compete,” he said. “They’ve clearly shown in the past that they’ve been able to get to the playoffs and make runs. Obviously, they’re a little older, but at the same time if we can get the right dynamic and motivation from the players ... we know we can win.”