Armchair Analyst's Breakdown
- Strength: Veteran match-winners at center forward, No. 10, central midfield, center back, goalkeeper and wherever Pedro Santos lines up.
- Weakness: They can be painfully slow on and off the ball, which is what spelled doom for them in 2021.
- Harrison Afful: The Ghanaian right back’s best days are behind him, but what an impact he made in Columbus: 164 appearances and two MLS Cup trips, including winning the trophy in 2020. He signed with Charlotte FC this offseason in free agency, giving the expansion side key MLS experience in the group. Steven Moreira, signed toward the end of last season, will be Columbus' starter.
- Milton Valenzuela: After prolonged contract talks this winter, Milton Valenzuela officially isn't returning with the Crew, instead signing as a free agent with Swiss club FC Lugano. Lugano are also owned by Chicago Fire FC owner Joe Mansueto. Valenzuela made 63 appearances over four years with Columbus, though never quite hit the heights of his debut campaign after suffering a torn ACL in preseason of 2019. Former DP winger Pedro Santos will likely be the starting left back, a position he filled in amid injuries last year.
- Yaw Yeboah: The Crew didn’t get as much production as they wanted from their wingers in 2021, so they made a splash to sign Ghanaian international Yaw Yeboah from Wisla Krakow in Poland. The dynamic talent had 10 goals and five assists in 50 appearances and is a graduate of Ghana’s famed Right to Dream Academy, before signing with Manchester City in 2014. Last year’s key free-agent acquisition, Kevin Molino, is still rehabbing a long-term injury. Beyond Yeboah, Columbus have Derrick Etienne Jr., Luis Diaz and Alexandru Matan as options out wide.
- Milos Degenek: Australian international center back Milos Degenek was signed as a free agent by the Crew this winter, after the defender last featured for Red Star Belgrade in Serbia. He won three league titles with the club and made 24 appearances in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. He has 33 caps with Australia. Degenek is likely to partner club captain Jonathan Mensah in defense, though Caleb Porter can pick from Jalil Anibaba and Josh Williams as well.
- Full roster
Projected Starting XI
- Charles Boehm: 5th in East
- Tom Bogert: 10th in East
- Matt Doyle: 9th in East
- David Gass: 5th in East
- Sam Jones: 8th in East
- Joe Lowery: 10th in East
- Greg Seltzer: 7th in East
- Andrew Wiebe: 9th in East
Columbus Crew Season Preview