Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
The Columbus Crew aren’t finished adding to their roster just yet.
In the thick of the playoff race, the club have signed veteran centerback Emanuel Pogatetz. The 31-year-old Pogatetz joins the club as a free agent, and most recently played for FC Nurnberg in Germany.
“(He’s) a player that we’ve come to terms with and we’re going to bring him in,” Berhalter said following practice on Monday, adding that it’s a deal that had been in the works for a long time. “We think he’s a great addition to the roster.”
The 31-year-old brings with him a wealth of experience at the highest level in Germany, England, and for the Austrian National Team, where he’s made more than 60 appearances. Pogatetz is best remembered for his spells with Middlesborough in the English Premier League (2005-2010) and Hannover (2010-2012).
A post on Pogatetz’s website states that he’s signed a two and a half year contract with an option for the 2017 season, and he’ll be the fifth-highest paid defender in MLS, though those numbers have not been disclosed.
A report on SI.com states that the Crew beat out an undisclosed Bundesliga club for Pogatetz’s signature.
Pogatetz comes in as a replacement for Costa Rican international Giancarlo Gonzalez, who completed a record-transfer move to Italian side Palermo late last month, just six months after signing with the Crew.
“He’s a different profile than Giancarlo,” Berhalter said. “With Giancarlo, you knew you were getting the potential for a sale, because of his age, but this guy I think is more of a person who can affect the culture of the club with his experience, his attitute, and his mentality.”
Pogatetz is expected to be available to make his Crew debut on Sept. 20, according to the report, when the Crew host the surging New England Revolution. Pogatetz’s last competitive match was a June 3 friendly match between Austria and the Czech Republic, which Austria won, 2-1. Pogatetz played the full 90 minutes at centerback.
“That’s the good part about it,” Berhalter said about Pogatetz needing time to gain fitness. “We’re comfortable now with how our backs have been playing and we realize this is a strong addition to the team. But we realize it will take a couple of weeks to get fully fit, probably more than that, but he’s a guy that will make an impact this season for sure.”
MLS clubs have until 5 p.m. pm Sept. 15 to make roster moves before the rosters are locked in place until the end of the season.
What do you think of this report? Do you like the signing? Think Pogatetz can fit in well alongside Michael Parkhurst? Do you believe the Crew have what it takes to make it to the playoffs?
Share your thoughts below.