The Crew had lost a starter for the season to an injury. The GM made a trade for a guy who had not yet played a single minute. That player would go on to be an integral part of the Crew’s run to a championship while playing out of position. The question begs, is Malte Amundsen the steal of the 2023 MLS season?
Amundsen was the main participant in a couple of very needed moves. When Will Sands went down with a season-ending injury in April, the Crew needed help at left wingback. President and GM Tim Bezbatchenko sent $500,000 in General Allocation Money to NYCFC for Amundsen. After being a part of an MLS Cup-winning team in 2021 and starting 37 games over two seasons, Amundsen found himself firmly rooted to the bench through the first part of the 2023 campaign. It was a trade that didn’t make much more than a ripple across the league, but the Crew needed a wingback and Amundsen needed a fresh start.
The next needed move the native of Denmark found himself a part of wouldn’t happen until he had been with the Crew for about a month, but it was one that I feel saved the club’s season. With the back line struggling after injuries to key players, Wilfried Nancy decided to move Amundsen from his natural position of wingback to center back. Along with Sean Zawadzki, who also was moved from midfield to the back line, Amundsen helped stabilize the Crew defense. While there may have been some shaky moments while Amundsen and Zawadzki adjusted to their new roles, Nancy’s team went on a seven-game unbeaten streak and would lose only four more matches in MLS play the remainder of the season.
Amundsen started 28 consecutive games for the Crew (including the playoffs). He scored a memorable game-winning goal in an important late-season match on the road in New England and made an even more memorable pass to set up Yaw Yeboah with what proved to be the championship goal in the MLS Cup final. His willingness to learn another position on the fly also gave Nancy versatility in how he deployed subs. When you combine all he did for the Crew, Malte Amundsen was the steal of the MLS season.
In case you’re wondering, Amundsen isn’t going anywhere. He is already under contract for the 2024 season.