COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Crew have once again turned to South America for some help in the attacking third. Peruvian striker Andrés Mendoza has come to terms with Columbus and is awaiting approval of paperwork to be added to the roster.
Crew technical director Brian Bliss does not anticipate a problem obtaining Mendoza’s International Transfer Certificate (ITC) or in gaining a work visa, but does not know when the 32-year-old left-footed center forward will become eligible.
“Nothing is official until then,” Bliss said Monday.
Mendoza recently played for Turkish side Diyarbakirspor. He scored 13 times for Mexico’s Morelia in 2008-09 and has eight goals in 44 national-team games since 1999.
He will be the second South American brought in by the Crew this year in an attempt to find a goal-scorer. Colombian Sergio Herrera signed in February, but was released last month after making only one appearance.
The 6-foot-2 Mendoza seems better suited for the physical play in MLS and has more international experience than Herrera.
“Mendoza’s a different type of player and we have a different vision of how he is going to fit in the attack,” Crew president Mark McCullers said. “Nothing against Sergio. [Mendoza] is five years older. He’s played 10 of his last 11 years in Europe, one in Mexico.
“He has a longer track record of scoring goals,” he added. “He’s played with some higher-profile clubs and the physical dimensions of this player – running, jumping, general power – are more suited for this league maybe more than Herrera’s was.”
The Crew released rookie midfielder Othaniel Yanez on Tuesday of last week to create a roster spot for Mendoza, then traded defender Jed Zayner to D.C. United two days later.
With one opening on the roster, the Crew might turn to center back Kwaku Nyamekye, a fourth-round pick in the 2010 SuperDraft out of Harvard. He remained in school to graduate and joined Columbus for training in mid-June.
The goal at the time was to get Nyamekye to Europe on a short-term deal then sign him in January.
“I talked to his agent last week when we knew we were getting close to trading Zayner and that the roster spot was open,” Bliss said. “His agent said he would like to do that.”
The Crew are looking at other options as well, since Zayner played an outside position.
The Crew play Saturday at Real Salt Lake in a matchup of the past two MLS Cup winners. But the two share another trait besides the championships.
While everyone has gone gaga over the recent designated player acquisitions by New York and Chicago, the two small-market clubs just go about their business.
If anyone has noticed, the Crew lead the Red Bulls by nine points in the Eastern Conference and are within three of another DP-happy club, Los Angeles, for the overall lead. RSL are also creeping closer to the Galaxy in the West.
Columbus and Real Salt Lake should enjoy their glory now because once the big boys get their DPs integrated, it could be lights out for teams not willing to join the arms race.
Utah has been unkind for the Crew since they won their first two matches there. A scoreless draw followed in 2007 and, since then, the Crew have lost 2-0 at Rice-Eccles Stadium and 4-1 in their first game at Rio Tinto Stadium in April 2009.
Though that drubbing was a little embarrassing, the Crew’s 1-0 loss to RSL in the first game of the playoffs last season was more damaging. RSL won the return leg 3-2 in Columbus to claim the series.