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Whitecaps deal Gressel to Crew after failing to agree contract extension

Julian Gressel Whitecaps Julian Gressel - The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps have traded midfielder Julian Gressel to the Columbus Crew in exchange for allocation money.

Whitecaps chief executive officer Axel Schuster says in a release that the team and Gressel had been working on an extension before the player made the decision to move east to be closer to family.

Vancouver will receive US$275,000 in general allocation money in 2023 and 2024 and could also receive an additional $300,000 in conditional allocation money from 2024-26.

Gressel, 29, arrived in Vancouver having primarily played as a wingback before being moved further up the pitch as a right winger.

It’s a role he’s thrived in, scoring five goals and six assists in all competitions this season.

Gressel started his career in Germany before stops at Atlanta United and D.C. United between 2017-22.

The trade was announced before Vancouver's Leagues Cup game Friday against Mexican side Leon.

Gressel paid tribute to his former club in a statement posted to social media after the trade was announced.

"There's a lot that goes into a decision like this and at this point the best step for my family and I is closer to the East Coast," he said.

He also expressed his sadness at leaving, citing the birth of his second daughter in Vancouver as a connection to the city and fans.

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time here in Vancouver and believe that we achieved something special winning back to back Canadian Championships," Gressel added.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2023.