It didn’t seem like Venezuelan rookie Bernardo Anor was destined to play for the Columbus Crew, growing up, as he did, a continent away. But the midfielder does have a poor man’s Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon connection to the team.
Anor comes to Columbus as the 48th pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft from the University of South Florida, the same school that produced Crew forward Jeff Cunningham, a 1998 selection.
“My coaches (at USF) told me he’s very good, very fast,” Anor said of the No. 2 scorer in league history. “It’s good to have another USF player here.”
Anor will also be a teammate of countryman Emilio Renteria.
“It is a pleasure to play with him because he has played for the national team,” Anor said. “He has played for the Caracas team that I played for, too, but I played for the youth team in the second division U-20 when he was on the first team.
“I always watched [Renteria] play,” Anor added. “It makes a big difference for me that he is here. He keeps me motivated every day.”
Finally, there are Anor’s ties to former Crew forward Alejandro Moreno, another fellow Venezuelan.
“My dad was his coach when [Moreno] played for the same high school as I did,” Anor said. “He always said he was a hard-working guy, always giving 100 percent in practice.”
Anor had never met Moreno, now with Chivas USA, until a Crew preseason game in Bradenton, Fla., two years ago.
“We exchanged numbers. He offered a lot of help,” Anor said.
Anor’s journey to Columbus began in Caracas, where he was plucked from his youth club and offered a scholarship.
He took it, of course, but the problem was he didn’t speak English. He took a three-month course before his freshman year and, four years later, graduated with a degree in business and finance.
“I am still getting better,” he said of his second language but he could also have been talking about his game. He knows it’s up to him to earn time with the Crew.
“It’s a different level from the one I used to play in college. I had some experience before with professional teams,” explained Anor, who had a training stint with the Crew in 2010. “I kind of like this level. It’s faster. You’ve got good players you can combine with.”
Anor said he can play anywhere in the middle but prefers one particular role.
“Attacking midfielder is my favorite position because I can move anywhere on the field,” he said, emphasizing that he likes receiving the ball with his back to goal. “I play much better, holding the ball and laying it off and getting it again. I am very quick in deciding which way to pass the ball.”
Crew technical director Brian Bliss has liked what he’s seen of Anor in camp.
“He’s done well,” Bliss said. “He’s made a couple of nice plays and can play several positions. He’s got an aggressive attitude. He’s got a ways to go defensively but he’s definitely got the tools.”