It's official: the latest building block for the Columbus Crew is 23-year-old Swedish midfielder Mohammed Saeid. Another testament to the Black & Gold's international scouting network, Saeid is set to move to Columbus following the expiration of his contract with his hometown club Örebro SK in December. The newest member of the Black & Gold spoke with TheCrew.com about the move, his relationship with Gregg Berhalter and his personal development.
Why Columbus? What excites you about your move to the Crew?
"It was [Berhalter]. I had spoken to him for a while. He got me excited about everything to do with the Crew: the way they play, the way the fans are and the way I can develop in a team like that. That's really what got me excited for the Crew."
How long did your conversations with Berhalter last? When did he first reach out to you?
"It's been a lot, actually. He's [coached] in Sweden before. He's watched me for a couple of games, so that's helped as well. He knows the way I play and he's watched me carefully. He's been in contact with me from this summer, or before even. We've talked, we've had a little chat about the future and the way I see football. [We talked] once a week, once every two weeks, maybe -- calling me, talking to me and keeping me updated."
What kinds of things did Berhalter tell you about the city and the club?
"He told me great things. There are many young players there who are developing right now. I see the way they've played from the beginning. It was a bit shaky in the beginning, but they've gotten going and are doing really great now. I've been following them closely ever since. That's what made me feel very excited about the Crew."
Does it add to the excitement to join a group like that, full of young players with limitless potential?
"Of course. That's a great way to develop as a player as well. Very young players, but mature at the same time. They're doing great at the moment. It would be great for the competition of the team to get even further in the League."
Has Gregg told you anything about what your role will be with the Crew on the field?
"We've talked a little bit about it, yeah. It'll probably be the same as the role I've had here [at Örebro], the way that I've played here the last couple of seasons: central midfield, trying to dictate the tempo and dictating the play."
Did you have a relationship with Gregg when he was coaching in Sweden, or did he reach out to you from afar?
"He has been in contact with my agent after watching me for a couple of games. I think he even wanted to sign me for the team he coached last season, [Hammarby IF]. That's the way I know him and that's the way he knows me."
The Crew emphasizes possession and ball control, which definitely fits you as a player, correct?
"Exactly, exactly. That's also what played a big part in the move to the Crew."
For those fans who might not be familiar with your game, describe yourself as a player.
"I would like to say I'm a technical player, good with the ball, quick passing and good feet."
You spent eight years in England at West Bromwich Albion's academy. What impact did it have on you to go to England as a young player?
"It had a really positive impact. I developed in many areas. I'm a small player, but I've learned how to use my body, the way to cover the ball and to sharpen my technical abilities to make them better. It's helped me in a lot of ways."
Are you familiar with anyone else in MLS at the moment?
"I know a couple of players. I played with West Brom before I moved back to Sweden, and there are some West Brom players who play [in MLS] now. Luke Moore plays there, Liam Ridgewell in Portland ... they are probably the ones that I have seen before."
What about MLS makes you believe this is the right move for your development?
"I've seen many games. It's developing very fast, faster than what people think. I think it's overtaking a lot of leagues. People are underestimating the League, it's fast-growing. I see the way that amazing fans go to watch the games. That's exciting ... I see it as great competition and very competitive. That's the way I like it."
How much of the Crew have you watched?
"Ever since the club showed interest in me, ever since Gregg contacted me, I've watched as many games as I could. Obviously, the change in time has been difficult, but when I can I do watch the games."
How has the year gone for you at Örebro? You're currently wrapping up the Swedish league season now.
"It's been good for me, personally. I played a lot of games at the beginning of the season,  starts. Lately, I've been coming off the bench and making an impact. I scored [against Elfsborg] a few weeks ago. A great start to the season."
Is it a little apprehensive for you to leave your hometown and move all the way across the Atlantic? How are you processing that?
"I'm very excited for it. I want to develop as a player and there are different ways to develop, different ways to the top. I want to make it to the very top. If that means I have to go to the other side of the Atlantic to have my dream come true, then so be it."