Columbus announced on Tuesday that the team signed 21-year-old Venezuelan attacker Eduardo Sosa from Venezuelan club Zamora FC. Despite his age, Sosa had already broken into the first team with Zamora and won three domestic titles.
In Sosa, Berhalter said he sees a “smart” and “technically, very good” player.
“He’s a guy that caught our eye basically for how he’s been performing at such a young age and what his skill set is,” Berhalter said in a conference call on Tuesday afternoon. “He’s a very thoughtful player; he’s good at turning inside the pocket; he’s good at making the final pass. Really, he’s a very good attacking midfielder.”
Berhalter said he realized last season when Higuain was out injured, Columbus “couldn’t play the same way.”
And with Higuain, 33, signed on for at least one more year, Berhalter said now is the “perfect time to add someone” with the opportunity to allow Sosa “to grow without the pressure of having to perform from day one.”
Higuain’s future remained uncertain through much of 2017, and Berhalter said he and his staff had to prepare for two very different strategies depending on whether he was re-signed.
“If Federico is not going to be around, we’re going to have to find someone who can make an impact from day one,” Berhalter said. “But if he is going to be around, we still want to find someone that can grow into the role and develop into a player with a lot of potential. So as that picture became more clear, our target became more clear. Eduardo fits perfectly into that second category.”
Sosa is one of several Venezuelan additions to MLS in recent years. Perhaps the highest-profile Venezuelan in the league is Martinez, who exploded onto the scene in 2017 and has reportedly garnered interest from large European clubs.
Berhalter said MLS is in the midst of a “cycle” of bringing in Venezuelans. He said he didn’t know how long it would last, but said it’s “certainly a current trend to be working the Venezuelan market.”
That trend helped when it came to recruiting Sosa, who Berhalter said spoke to Martinez before he signed with Crew SC.
“Josef Martinez came here and did really well, and I think there’s been a lot of attention surrounding his performance in MLS,” Berhalter said. “I know Eduardo talked to Josef before he decided to sign with us, and [Martinez] was very positive about the league, very positive about our team and it made Eduardo’s decision a little easier.”