Orlando City has had its most active off-season since it joined Major League Soccer for the 2015 season and it’s been a lot of fun to watch. One of the more celebrated winter acquisitions was the trade with the Columbus Crew that brought Justin Meram to Florida for $1.05 million in combined allocation money.
It occurred to me that some people might not know too much about Meram aside from the fact that he has tortured the Lions in the past. To that end, our friend Patrick Murphy from Massive Report has graciously answered our questions about Meram to help us all get a bit better acquainted with one of the newest men in purple.
What are Meram’s biggest strengths and weaknesses as a player?
Patrick Murphy: His biggest strength is easy, it’s his ability on the ball. When he came into the league, dribbling was what Meram did. He was like MLS’s version of a young Cristiano Ronaldo with the way he wanted to take players on. Since then, his game has evolved considerably and he’s added much more to it, including his movement, being a distributor, and finishing, but he still likes to go 1-v-1 with the opponent when the opportunity presents itself.
Justin’s biggest weakness would probably be when he gets frustrated. Throughout his career, teams have been able to take him out of games at times by getting in his head or not letting him get the ball as much as he wants on the field. Now that has tempered off some as he’s gotten older and learned to keep his composure, but at times it still creeps in.
What would you say is Meram’s best individual moment as an MLS player to date?
PM: That’s tough. He scored the fastest goal in playoff history against the New York Red Bulls in 2015. He came on and played for one minute, scoring the winning goal in Seattle in 2014. But probably the best moment would be this past season when Meram scored a natural hat trick in a 3-2 win at the Montreal Impact. I remember thinking at the time it was one of the more dominating performances of his career. Everything was working right for him that day and the Crew ended up needing all three goals.
Can you tell us something (or things) about Meram that we might not know (i.e. something we can’t look up in his bio) from your time covering him with the Crew?
PM: He’s a great guy for one. Despite being a former Michigan player in Columbus (for those that don’t pay attention to college football, Michigan people usually don’t get far in Columbus), he was embraced by the community for not only his play on the field but the way he interacts with fans. He’s just a fun guy to be around with a good, dry, sense of humor. Justin’s also a good teammate. He can be fiery at times because he’s so competitive, but he will do anything for his teammates, coaches, anyone on the staff.
As always, I’d like to extend a big personal thanks to Pat from Massive Report for providing his insight. Hopefully you now have a better understanding of what Orlando City has gotten in Justin Meram.