Columbus Crew SC part ways with Hernan Grana, allowing fullback to return to his native Argentina

Just months after he was acquired by Columbus Crew SC in January, Argentine defender Hernan Grana has left the club.

Head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter told media on Tuesday morning at Crew SC training that the player and team had officially split, with Grana’s contract terminated.

“We officially parted ways with Hernan, effective immediately,” he said. “Talking about bringing guys in and not knowing exactly how it’s going to go, the toll of being away from his family and his newborn became too much to bear. As a result of that, we parted ways with the idea that he’s returning to Argentina to be with his family.”

Grana’s wife had a child during preseason, when the fullback missed the end of Columbus’s preparation for the season to return to Argentina. Berhalter said that he had been back to Argentina a second time since, and was on his way back permanently Tuesday.

“It was difficult for him,” Berhalter said. “If you look at his playing career, all of his clubs except one have been in Buenos Aires. We thought the transition was going to be easier; we had people helping with him. But in the end, it wasn’t.

“These things are difficult, but you don’t want to hold a guy here against his will. Especially considering that he had a seven-year-old as well and they weren’t planning to move here. So it became, for us, we didn’t see a long-term perspective anymore.”

Despite missing time during his two trips home, Grana started seven of the club’s first nine matches, turning heads in the process. Berhalter admitted that Columbus will miss what Grana brought to the table.

“It hurts us, obviously, because he was a good player and obviously can make an impact,” he said. “But I firmly believe that if a player’s not right mentally and he’s not settled, he’s going to have a difficult time performing. So in the end, this is a move that I believe is best for both Hernan and the club.”

Berhalter has enjoyed a very positive record of acquisitions since arriving in Columbus ahead of the 2014 season, signing impact players Kei Kamara, Steve Clark, Michael Parkhurst and Emmanuel Pogatetz. Still, each signing requires a leap of faith, with neither the player nor the club 100 percent confident in how each move will work out.

“You bring in a large number of guys,” he said. “Right off the bat you know that some of them aren’t going to work out. You just hope that, in them not working out, both parties could benefit. In this case, we evaluated Hernan and we saw that he was having an extreme difficult time adapting. He wasn’t happy, and in the end it’s going to work for both parties. But it’s tough; it’s really tough.”

Fortunately for Berhalter, Crew SC have a decent amount of options to slide in for Grana. Hector Jimenez shined at right back in his second start of the season in the team’s 3-2 win over the Seattle Sounders on Saturday, and he, Chad Barson and Chris Klute will compete for minutes at the position going forward.

“As of now, until the next window opens, Hector and Chad and Chris are the replacements,” he said. “Those guys have proven to do a good job. Hector did a great job last week, and they both did a good job last year. … So we move on with those guys.”