Apr 8, 2018; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando City SC forward Justin Meram (9) during the second half at Orlando City Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
FC Cincinnati has offered a competitive bid for Orlando City winger Justin Meram and believes a deal for the player is imminent, a source with direct knowledge of the deal told Pro Soccer USA. Nothing is official yet, but Orlando has been looking to transfer one of its biggest offseason additions since he’s struggled to adapt this season.
Meram joined Orlando City during the offseason from Columbus Crew SC, which also made an offer to get him back, according to MLSsoccer.com. The biggest hang-up so far has been the price. Meram requested a trade from Columbus last year in part due to the relocation questions the club faces.
FC Cincinnati is also a team on the move. A startup United Soccer League team just a few years ago, Cincinnati recently won an MLS expansion bid and will play at the top level in 2019. Though Cincinnati still has to finish out the season in USL, where it currently leads the Eastern Conference, the club is already looking to bring in MLS-caliber players to prepare for next year.
A spokesman for FC Cincinnati offered no comment on the potential deal. Orlando City officials also declined to comment on Meram’s future with the club.
Meram has not been included on Orlando City’s gameday roster the last three matches. He finished 2017 with 13 goals and five assists for Columbus, but has just one goal and three assists through 17 matches played with Orlando this year.
Orlando City coach James O’Connor told Pro Soccer USA before the Lions’ Saturday loss to Crew SC that there is still a place on the team for Meram.
“We don’t make any bold statements and say, ‘anyone’s in, anyone’s out,’” O’Connor said. “I think, for me, it’s very much day to day in training. Game to game. Everybody’s in. Just because you haven’t traveled today doesn’t mean you don’t play or you won’t be involved next week.
“There’s an opportunity for him when we get back to get training and to show us — not just Justin, but everyone — that you’re worthy of a spot. That’s how I operate.”
Meram also has a tumultuous relationship with Orlando fans. After scoring his lone goal this season, his celebration in front of the home supporters section was to “tune them out,” putting his fingers in his ears. Later, the winger said fans wished death upon him and he was given three days leave from the team for personal reasons.
Pro Soccer USA writer Jordan Culver contributed to this report.