Firepower shouldn’t be a problem to Orlando City SC as the team enters the 2018 season as the Lions have agreed on a trade with Columbus Crew SC that will bring 29-year-old winger Justin Meram to Central Florida.
Originally reported by ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle and Paul Tenorio early this afternoon, Orlando City made official about two hours later that it sent $1.05 million in allocation money plus a 2019 international roster spot (which will return to OCSC in 2020) to the Ohio franchise in exchange for Meram. The allocation breakdown is $750,000 in Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) — $300,000 in 2018 and $450,000 in 2019 — and $300,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM).
“Justin is the ideal fit to round out our attacking group. He’s a proven contributor in our league who can both score and create goals,” Lions General Manager Niki Budalic said in a club press release. “His 1v1 ability and versatility to operate in various roles will add another dimension to our attack.”
Meram's signing could be one of the reasons for Orlando City CEO Alex Leitao's tweets last night.
Actually— Alex Leitao (@alexleitao) January 29, 2018
Meram has been a stud for Crew SC since he was selected out of the University of Michigan in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft in 2011. He has played 200 MLS matches for the Black & Gold, the only professional club of his career so far, scoring 40 goals and recording 35 assists.
The Michigan native and Iraq international is fresh from having a career year in 2017, when he played each of Crew SC’s 39 matches (regular season and playoffs), registering 14 goals and eight assists. In an interesting stat, every time he scored a goal, his team won the match.
Meram signed a multi-year contract with Crew SC in March 2017 with his last year’s salary sitting around $330,000. However, some factors such as the possibility of the franchise relocating to Austin, TX, and his desire to be better appreciated led him to ask for a trade in the first days of 2018.
A clinical finisher from both outside and inside the box, Meram will provide more firepower to Orlando City’s offense, probably occupying the left winger spot. Playing alongside the also recently signed Sacha Kljestan and Josué Colmán, he should be part of one of the best front lines in MLS.
Orlando City fans are familiar with Meram as he scored a brace in the 2-0 Crew SC win over the Lions last April in the third week of the regular season.
Meram himself confirmed the trade via social media prior to the official word from Orlando City: