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Sources: Crew draft pick Robert Kristo to sign with Serie B’s Spezia

Robbie Kristo (Saint Louis)


Robert Kristo’s goal to sign with a club in Europe is set to become a reality.

Sources have confirmed to SBI that Kristo is in the process of signing with Serie B club Spezia Calcio, after spending the last three weeks with the club on trial. The 6-foot 4-inch forward was drafted by the Columbus Crew with the 55th overall selection in the 2015 MLS Draft but it was clear from last December that he had his sights set on Europe.

Italian publication Citta Della Spezia was the first to report on Kristo signing with Spezia.

Kristo, 21, was invited to the MLS combine after completing his senior season with Saint Louis University. Kristo scored 14 goals and added two assists for the Billikens in 2014, and 41 goals during his four-goal career. His move to Europe was made easier due to holding a Croatian passport in addition to an American one.

After drafting Kristo, Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter told the Columbus Dispatch that it was worth taking a chance on Kristo even if he was planning on signing in Italy.

“He could potentially be signing in Italy right now,” Berhalter told the Dispatch in January. “We know that. Worst-case scenario, if he did end up signing and he plays a year there or a year and a half there and wants to come back, we own his rights.”

Spezia are currently seventh in Serie B after finishing in 13th place last season. The club were relegated from Serie B in 2008 and reformed, working their way back up the Italian soccer ladder. The club have never played in the current iteration of Serie A.

Kristo, originally from Bosnia, settled in the large Bosnian community in St. Louis with his family in 1998 after fleeing both Bosnia and Croatia as a youngster.


What do you think of this news? Did you expect Kristo to sign in Europe? Do you see him performing well


  1. ” Worst-case scenario, if he did end up signing and he plays a year there or a year and a half there and wants to come back, we own his rights.”

    Not quite, Mr. Berhalter. Worst-case scenario is he stays in Europe for a number of years and you wasted a draft pick.

    • If I recall correctly, that’s only if the 3rd team is relatively close to the 4th team. If 3rd is far ahead, there’s no promotion playoffs.

      However this is coming from foggy memories of FM.

      • Thanks! I’d never heard of such a rule.

        Per wikipedia: “he top two teams are automatically promoted. If the 3rd-placed team is 9 or more points ahead of the 4th-placed team, it too is automatically promoted, otherwise a playoff tournament determines the third team that will be promoted. Starting in the 2013–14 season, anywhere between two and six teams within a “playoff margin” of 14 points from the 3rd-placed team will enter the playoff tournament. Under the new playoff format, up to three rounds may be required. The final two rounds are two-legged ties, while opening round matches (if required) are single legs hosted by the higher-ranked team. If a tie is drawn at the end of regular play (one or two matches, depending on the round), extra time is played. If the two teams are still tied after thirty minutes, the higher classified team advances.”

      • Even better is the relegation, if 18 is less than four points clear of 19, they play one game to see who goes down.

    • Promotion playoffs aren’t that uncommon (the Championship does it with 3-6, that final is the most lucrative single game in the world, winning is worth roughly 75m pounds (the value of promotion) losing is worth nothing. Even the champions league final is only a ten million euro difference) arguably the serie b playoff has the season meaning more, if the 3rd team is 9 points clear of 4th, there is no playoff. Otherwise everyone within (I think) 14 points of 3rd gets in.

      • Yeah I’m aware that other leagues have promotion/relegation playoffs. I just thought that those are generally between 4 teams. This is between as many as 6. Just struck me as odd that an 8th place team out of 22 (not even top third) has a change to gain promotion.

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