sports 4 days ago

Crew SC's Berhalter tries to ease players' trade-rumor worries

The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio — Andrew Erickson The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

July 15--The Major League Soccer season doesn't resume for Crew SC until next Saturday. But what Crew investor-operator Anthony Precourt termed in a tweet as "silly season," or the wave of often-false rumors that comes during the secondary transfer window, has been going steady since Monday.

The rumors reached a level that Crew coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter said he felt it necessary to address his team Friday, telling the players that news on where they stand will come directly from him, not social media.

"No one on this team will get blindsided. That's important. What I'd say is anyone who is specifically involved with rumors, we'll talk to them, and we'll tell them exactly what's going on," Berhalter said. "But I'd also add that a lot of those things that I've read so far have been completely false, and that's disappointing because we're on the front lines, and we're the ones who are dealing with other clubs."

A metro New York report this week indicated that the Crew was placing phone calls with other clubs in an attempt to shop 22-year-old forward Kekuta Manneh. A league source denied the rumor to The Dispatch on Wednesday. Manneh said he has been reassured about his standing with the Crew, but he added that he wasn't fazed by what was on social media.

"I don't blame people for putting those rumors out there because I was a bit unsettled when I first came here (in March). Of course there's going to be rumors -- even if there isn't anything -- that if a guy isn't playing he's going to go somewhere," said Manneh, whose contract expires at the end of the season. "But I feel like I'm a big part of this team, and I'm here to help this team. They're not interested in trading me, so that's nice. It's comfortable, and it's good to know that."

A minor furniture change briefly pulled midfielder Ethan Finlay into the rumor mill. Finlay posted a picture to the German Village Nextdoor app earlier this week in an attempt to get rid of an old dresser. A few fans took it to mean that Finlay was leaving town.

Not to worry, Finlay said Friday. He successfully offloaded his old dresser -- for free -- and upgraded to one from West Elm.

"It's incredible, I've got to give it to our fans," Finlay said of the rumor, before adding, "Nothing more to it, not that I know of."

Now in his sixth MLS season, Finlay said that he and other veterans are more at peace with the summer transfer window because they understand that trades and roster moves are out of their control.

Not that everyone will be able to avoid feeling anxious before the window closes Aug. 9.

"I've seen guys do it where they've just been a mess for a month, and the moment the window closes, a week later they're back to their normal self," Finlay said. "It happens. So you just have to have a good support system and confidence in yourself."

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