COLUMBUS, Ohio – Costa Rican forward Jairo Arrieta was feeling the love on Saturday.
The Columbus Crew's newest acquisition was introduced to fans for the first time at a Crew Stadium event for season ticket-holders. He will be sticking around to train with the team for about 10 days before returning home briefly to finalize the paperwork for a permanent move to the Crew from Deportivo Saprissa.
Arrieta joins former Saprissa teammate and forward Olman Vargas, who signed with the Crew in January.
“Before signing I talked to Olman and asked about the team,” Arrieta said through a translator. “After I signed I’ve been following them on the internet and watching the games.
“The reason I come to MLS is I want to improve my career,” he added. “I believe the league has grown a lot. It’s going to be a good option for me to get better and better. The Crew is going to help me be a better player and be successful in my career.”
When Arrieta is officially added to the roster once the summer international transfer window opens on June 27, the Crew will likely be one player over the 30-man limit, even with goalkeeper William Hesmer and forward Tommy Heinemann on the season-ending injury list.
However, the number of active players could reach to 32 if the Crew are able to sign a Designated Player.
Technical director Brian Bliss returned to Columbus on Wednesday after several face-to-face meetings in South America with an unnamed Argentine forward, his club and agent. Crew president and general manager Mark McCullers said he is optimistic a deal will be brokered with that player or possibly another forward on the team’s radar for the DP slot.
“We’re looking at different scenarios – with a DP, without a DP,” he told MLSsoccer.com on Saturday. “There’s going to be some difficult decisions [with the roster] depending which way that goes.”
The team has been given the go-ahead by owners Hunt Sports Group to continue pursuing a Designated Player, but McCullers said the club will be diligent.
“I’ve always said I’d rather make no move than make a mistake,” he said.
That Columbus seek another scorer is no surprise. They are 13th in scoring (1.08 per game) and 12th in shots on goal percentage.
McCullers hopes the 28-year-old Arrieta, who had 45 goals in 161 matches for Saprissa, is part of the solution. And the new Crew striker can count on plenty of help from Vargas, who's anxious to help his new teammate get settled in Columbus.
“I’m happy he’s here now,” Vargas said. “I hope he gets used to the city and the team as quick as he can and will help the team right away because he is a good player.”