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Berhalter says he had his eye on SuperDraft prize Chris Klute for "a while"

When it was announced that Columbus Crew SC would be receiving "future considerations" from the Colorado Rapids as part of a deal that saw the clubs swap first-round 2015 MLS SuperDraft picks, it would have been easy expect the compensation to be allocation money or something small, given the nature of the move.

But Crew SC's return from Thursday's deal was far from small, it was announced on Friday.

Columbus had instead traded the 14th pick for the 19th selection and fullback Chris Klute, the Rapids’ 2013 assists leader, Defensive Player of the Year and U.S. Men's National Team prospect. Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said he's had his eye on Klute "for a while" and had been in talks with Colorado for "months."

He credited the club's flexibility with allowing the deal to go down on draft day.

"Both parties got what they wanted out of the deal," he said. "Colorado obviously wanted to guarantee that they would get their guy, and we knew we'd get our guy [Connecticut defender Sergio Campbell] in the 19th pick. And we really wanted Chris Klute."

Klute's agent Namjoo Hashemi of Pangea Sports Management said there was no ill will or drama between Klute and the Rapids and thought it was simply a case of Klute not fitting into head coach Pablo Mastroeni's plans.

"When you look back at the year before last, you could see him given the flexibility to just run up the flanks and go in [and create] assists," Hashemi told MLSsoccer.com. "Overall, with the strategy of Pablo, he was sort of more required to stay back and not do what he's great at.

"Naturally, any coach, if they feel a player or position ... if it doesn't fit or they don't feel it's the best and they have other options, they could look to move a player."

Klute suggested that Mastroeni's squad rotation didn't allow him to have his best year in 2014.

"The Rapids kind of had a game plan of putting players in and out," he said. "So it was kind of hard to get in a rhythm."

So how does Klute fit in with Crew SC?

The 24-year-old is a leftback by trade, the position that Costa Rican international Waylon Francis locked down for the club last season. But Berhalter isn't concerned about the overlap and said he could even use Klute on the other side.

"It's no secret that our fullbacks have an extremely high workload," Berhalter said. "Last year, played number of people at both left and rightback, and we need bodies in those positions. And Chris is very versatile. He can play just as comfortably on the left as on the right, so we know we can use him on both sides."

Klute said he isn't concerned about positions.

"It honestly doesn't matter on which side," he said. "I want to win games, and if they feel like playing me on the left side or the right, I can do that.”

And it seems that Crew SC weren't the only ones interested in Klute, who was called up for the USMNT’s January camp last year and has, according to Hashemi, garnered interest from clubs overseas.

"I've had requests from Europe for him, so it would have to be a significant deal for him to leave," Hashemi said. "Even as recently as a couple of months ago in Europe, they were requesting him for trade or for loan."


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