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Atlanta United acquires Justin Meram from Columbus Crew

Meram will provide attacking depth for Atlanta

Sep 1, 2018; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Crew SC forward Justin Meram (9) reacts after his team defeats the New York City FC at MAPFRE Stadium. (Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports)

MARIETTA, Ga. — Atlanta United acquired winger Justin Meram from Columbus Crew SC on Tuesday, the club announced. The Five Stripes sent $100,000 in General Allocation Money and their natural second-round selection in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft to the Crew.

Meram first signed with Columbus in 2011 and spent seven seasons with the Crew. Orlando City SC acquired Meram via trade before the 2018 season, but the 30-year-old Iraq international’s stint in the Sunshine State did not go well. He played in 17 games, starting 14, and contributed one goal and three assists. Meram stepped away from the team last June after telling reporters he had received death threats from Orlando City fans. The Lions traded Meram back to Columbus last July.

“Justin is a proven commodity in MLS and we’re pleased to welcome him to Atlanta,” vice president and technical director Carlos Bocanegra said in a press release. “During his time in Columbus, Justin established himself as one of the better attacking players in the league and we expect him to come in and compete immediately.”

Meram has started in four of his nine appearances this season and does not have a goal or assist. He is expected to provide attacking depth while Atlanta loses players to international duty in the coming months. Ezequiel Barco is currently away with Argentina for the U-20 World Cup in Poland. Héctor “Tito” Villalba and Josef Martínez are expected to join Paraguay and Venezuela, respectively at the Copa America tournament in June.

Atlanta manager Frank de Boer addressed the possibility of a move after Tuesday morning’s training session. He explained what he was looking for in a player.

“When you get somebody, it has to be somebody fitting in directly, and I don’t have to train him one or one-and-a-half months and then have a good impression,” de Boer said. “We have to get the player directly ready — if we need him, then we need him, especially in this tough period.

“We are looking for players who can score goals, but also can [play] between lines because a lot of times we’re going to play against teams who play very deep, so then we have a lot of players who have to play in small, tight spaces, so he has to be comfortable.”

Atlanta United will play seven games through June 2. The Five Stripes host Toronto FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

Update: Tuesday, May 7, 5:25 p.m.

This story has been updated to reflect official announcement of the transaction.

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