Crew beats out interest from abroad to keep Oduro
“Obviously he had interest from abroad,” Crew Head Coach and Technical Director Gregg Berhalter told MLSsoccer.com over the phone Monday. “We know there were a number of teams after him. A number of teams in MLS expressed interest as well. It was a priority of ours to re-sign him, so we're happy we got that deal done.”
Berhalter said that interest for the Ghanaian “abroad” came from a wide range of locations.
“I'm pretty sure there was interest from Scandanavia, from Greece, and I'm pretty sure there was interest from some of the Arabic countries,” Berhalter said. “Supposedly there were legitimate offers out there for him.”
Oduro found goal 13 times last season, yet was among the lowest-paid top scorers in MLS. And while he mentioned needing some “icing” in his next contract, Berhalter said Oduro and the Crew weren't too far apart in their negotiations.
“There was some work to do, but I think that [Oduro], first and foremost, wanted to be in Columbus,” Berhalter said. “I had a good feeling about that. He loves the support he gets from the people here and loves being a part of this community. So that helped a lot.”
The Crew are the fifth MLS team Oduro has been a part of in his career, and Berhalter said that he thought finding some continuity and a bit of longevity helped to make the deal for Oduro in Columbus.
“He expressed his commitment to the team and to the organization,” Berhalter said. “He wants to be part of us trying to build a successful team.”
After Oduro featured on the wing and at forward at times for Columbus in 2013, Berhalter says he still hasn't settled on a position for the speedster in 2014, but noted that the Ghanaian's versatility was an important factor in bringing him back.
“He knows that we're going to look at him in both of those positions,” Berhalter said. “The beauty of Dom is that he can score from both of them. If his numbers varied widely from one position to another, we'd lean more toward the position where he's more effective, but he's effective at both positions.”
According to the Crew, Oduro is home in Ghana, and will not be available for comment for a few weeks.
After re-signing defender Josh Williams in November, only goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum remains out of contract for Columbus. Berhalter would not comment on the status of the team's negotiations with Gruenebaum or other players whose contract options were declined, but said that there should be an update “in the next few days.”