Columbus Crew SC today announced that the club has re-signed midfielders Bernardo Anor and Justin Meram. Per club and MLS policy, additional details of the deals were not disclosed. Anor and Meram each set an MLS career-best for goals in a single season under the guidance of first-year – and MLS Coach of the Year finalist – Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. The pair was also among the Black & Gold's top three leaders in shots for the 2014 season in which the club finished third in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference.
“Justin Meram and Bernardo Anor – along with Ethan Finlay and Hector Jimenez who were previously re-signed – did a good job of increasing their value throughout the League as they all played important roles for us during the season,” said Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “They proved to us that they could score goals in this League. Re-signing Justin and Bernardo gives us the flexibility to have numerous options in that position and attacking quality in the midfield line.”
Anor, 26, made a career-high 27 appearances in 2014, his fourth season with Columbus. He set a new career-best with six tallies, including a pair of braces on March 22 versus Philadelphia and July 19 versus Montreal. The Venezuelan notched the game-winning goal in the regular-season finale on October 26 versus Philadelphia, his third match-winning strike of the season and a goal that helped secure the club's first postseason match at Crew Stadium since 2010.
A former standout at the University of South Florida, Anor's 53 shots in 2014 ranked second on the club. His long-range strike against Philadelphia on March 22 was nominated for the 2014 AT&T MLS Goal of the Year.
After posting five goals and four assists from 2011-2013, Meram saw standout success under Berhalter’s system in 2014, doubling his previous career-bests in both goals and assists by registering eight tallies and four helpers. The former University of Michigan Wolverine established new highs in starts (19) and appearances (32), en route to ranking third on the club in shots (52).
Meram scored his first MLS Cup Playoffs goal in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against New England and added his first postseason assist in the second leg. Following the season, he earned his first international call-up with Iraq, where he made his first three caps for the Lions of Mesopotamia at the 2014 Gulf Cup of Nations. His game-winning, stoppage-time curling goal at Seattle on March 29 was named the Black & Gold's 2014 Goal of the Year as voted on by the fans and was also nominated for the 2014 AT&T MLS Goal of the Year.
The re-signings of Anor and Meram bring Crew SC's active roster for the 2015 season to 25 players. The club remains in conversations with out-of-contract defender Eric Gehrig.
TRANSACTIONS: Crew SC re-signs midfielders Bernardo Anor and Justin Meram.
Name: Bernardo Anor
Name: Justin Meram
Born: December 4, 1988 in Shelby Township, Michigan
Hometown: Shelby Township, Michigan
Citizenship: Dual citizenship (United States and Iraq)
Acquired: Drafted by Columbus in the First Round (15th overall) of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft; re-signed on December 2, 2014.