Somewhat lost in the shuffle for the Crew to make a postseason push is the emergence of Steven Moreira as the club’s everyday right back.
Moreira made his MLS debut only a month ago, but the early signs are promising that the Frenchman, who had played in France's Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 previously, will be a fixture in the Columbus backline now and into 2022.
The 27-year-old proved as much on Saturday night when he offered an assist on the Crew’s lone goal against the New York Red Bulls. Making his fourth league start since he officially joined the Black and Gold on August 23, Moreira registered his first assist by producing a run down the right flank to stretch the New York Red Bulls backline. After the ball was played in his direction, he delivered a low cross to Miguel Berry, who scored his sixth goal of the season.
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At the time, the focus wasn’t on who provided the assist so much as the Crew was able to generate a quick equalizer. But upon further review, it was a promising sign that Moreira was in the right spot at the right time to showcase why the Crew signed the Frenchman.
Over the last month, Moreira has played in every Columbus match and made his first start on Sept. 29 against Deportivo Cruz Azul in the 2-0 Campeones Cup win at Lower.com Field.
He’s been a steady fixture in a position that’s seen players rotate in and out of the team. Some of that is due to injuries, but also just the natural progression of a club that’s looking for a reliable upgrade for the future.
With this as background context, it shows why President & General Manager Tim Bezbatcheno wanted to invest in the position now, even if Moreira is a player who’s been given limited time to make a major impression and help the Crew make the 2021 postseason.
Due to injuries, the back four has routinely changed throughout 2021. That’s an unfortunate reality that head coach Caleb Porter, and recently Ezra Hendrickson, have tried to manage around. A quick glance at the Supporters-Shield winning New England Revolution would suggest there are obvious benefits of not having to change the backline regularly.
Moreira wasn’t a signing meant for the present, but for the future. That he’s been a meaningful contributor this past month is a promising sign and should offer encouragement for the club’s long-term success.