Columbus Crew head coach Caleb Porter has suggested the club is closing in on signing a new striker.
The 2020 MLS Cup champions are in need of a center-forward after allowing Gyasi Zardes to leave for the Colorado Rapids in April. The USMNT star scored 61 goals for Columbus across all competitions between 2018 and early 2022.
Sitting in ninth place, only Inter Miami (15), Charlotte FC (13) and the Chicago Fire (13) have scored fewer goals than Columbus (17) in the Eastern Conference so far this season. The Crew’s top scorer is Armenia international playmaker Lucas Zelarayan.
Former Houston Dynamo striker Mauro Manotas, now with Liga MX club Tijuana, has been the name most heavily linked with Columbus. While Porter wouldn’t reveal any specific targets, he did confirm the club has ‘a lot of irons in the fire’ with a move for a striker expected to progress in the near future.
“We got a lot of irons in the fire still,” Porter told reporters. “We’ve identified and feel comfortable with a handful of targets, and we have them numbered in order of who we like the best on down. As is the case many times in these situations, the deals don’t get done because other teams come in, or the money, ultimately, that another club offers is higher.”
The Crew are fully prepared to work through a number of options should they be unable to secure their first-choice target, such is the nature of the transfer market – especially when chasing goalscorers.
“We’ve worked very hard to get to this point where we have targets that we like, that we want, that we think fit the profile,” Porter added. “It’s a short list. But you have to be prepared for – and it happens in every club all over the world, where you have a couple of guys, and it doesn’t get done, and you got to make sure you have options that are there.
“Ultimately, we’ve talked to players, we’ve identified players, we’ve said yes to players; and now it’s about getting over the line.”