COLUMBUS, Ohio – Justin Meram scored his ninth goal of the season – thanks to an errant deflection from Joshua Yaro – for the game-winner in Columbus Crew SC’s 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night.
And while Meram’s pace of nine goals and six assists is among the best in MLS, the winger missed out on his first MLS All-Star Game when the final selections were announced earlier this week. But that came as no surprise to the Columbus playmaker, who said the selections weren’t about performance.
“It’s not even an All-Star game in my eyes; it’s a celebrity match to me,” Meram said after Saturday's victory. “[David] Accam and [Romain] Allesandrini are two guys I love watching, and it’s funny to me that they’re not there. To me, it’s not an All-Star Game in my eyes. It’s getting a bunch of guys together and playing against Real Madrid.”
Shortly after the selections were announced, Meram tweeted to imply that he would have had a better chance if his name were “Justinho,” but he said that was the extent of his dwelling on the issue.
“I’ll be honest, I was upset for the day and then I let it go,” said Meram, whose nine goals this season mark a career high. “It’s over. I’m just here to play the game. This is nothing new for me.”
Meram’s teammates certainly believe he should have been selected, and barked shouts of support in the locker room during his interview.
“It’s disappointing,” Wil Trapp said. “We certainly feel like he’s had an All-Star-worthy start to the season. But for him, this is a great response.”
That support is appreciated by Meram, but he’s fine with his teammates speaking on his behalf at this point.
“My teammates can be pissed for me,” he said, “but there’s nothing else I can do.”
For Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter, Meram’s snub is just another product of a league that’s impossible to predict.
But the Columbus boss said he’s sure Meram will play in the game at some point.
“Things happen like that that you don’t expect,” Berhalter said. “We probably all expected him to be an All-Star this season, the way he was playing and the chances he was creating. Things happen that you can’t control.
“But he’s a guy who will continue to work hard. He’ll be an All-Star in his career.”