The late-season signings continue. Columbus, riding a five-game winning streak in league play and a run of nine games unbeaten in all competitions, might seem well-set for the stretch run of defending its MLS title.
Yet it has embarked in group play of CONCACAF Champions League as well, and thus the signing of 24-year-old Venezuelan striker Emilio Renteria fills the last vacant spot on the 18-man roster as games are about to pile up.
Renteria will be eligible to play as soon as the league receives his international transfer certificate.
Salary terms weren't disclosed. He takes the place of forward Pat Noonan, traded to Colorado several weeks ago, whose base salary this season is $175,008.
"Emilio has been on our radar for some time now and we're pleased to get him signed," said Crew technical director Brian Bliss in a team press release. "He possesses good speed, quickness and long-range shooting ability, and we're excited to incorporate him into the team."
Renteria (5-foot-9, 178 pounds) comes to MLS from Caracas FC, which he joined in 2007 and scored 16 goals and played in two editions of the Copa Libertadores, including a run to the quarterfinals last spring. He started his career in 2001 with Levante of the Spanish Second Division, and also played for Deportivo Italia and UA Maricaibo in his native country before joining Caracas.
He arrived in Columbus a week ago to train and take a physical, and MLS needed a few extra days to clear up whether or not Caracas retained any rights to him.
Renteria and new Crew teammate Alejandro Moreno were in uniform a week ago when Venezuela beat Colombia 2-1 in a friendly at Giants Stadium. Renteria has also represented Venezuela at the U-17, U-20 and U-23 levels.