Tim Bezbatchenko departs Columbus Crew, Issa Tall elevated to GM

Tim Bezbatchenko - Columbus Crew

Defending MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew have elevated Issa Tall to general manager as previous president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko departs to become president of Black Knight Football – an organization that helps support the English Premier League’s AFC Bournemouth, Scottish Premiership’s Hibernian FC and French Ligue 1’s FC Lorient.

Change in Columbus

Bezbatchenko returned to his native Ohio in 2019, becoming the Crew’s chief soccer officer after spending 2013-18 in leadership roles with Toronto FC. Beforehand, the Ohio native worked at Major League Soccer headquarters.

During Bezbatchenko's time in Columbus, the Crew won two MLS Cups (2020 & 2023), lifted the 2021 Campeones Cup and reached the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup final.

"The past five-plus years with the Crew have been nothing short of remarkable. It was truly special to help launch a new era for the club with an exciting brand of soccer and the ambition to win trophies for our city and supporters who have long stood by this team. Along the way, I have been fortunate to work alongside so many great leaders, coaches, technical and support staff and players across the Crew and HSG," said Bezbatchenko.

"I would like to thank the Haslam, Johnson and Edwards families for their commitment to the Crew, to the fans and to playing championship soccer. They inspired me to return home in 2019, and I had the privilege of working at this historic club for so many incredible moments, including the 2020 and 2023 MLS Cups and the opening of two world-class facilities. While I am excited about pursuing this next endeavor with Black Knight Football, I will always be thankful for the time and memories together with the Crew community. Glory to Columbus!"

Tall takes over

Tall joined the Crew as assistant general manager of player personnel & strategy in 2019 and has significantly impacted club-wide personnel decisions and long-term planning during the past six campaigns. In his previous position, Tall oversaw the team’s scouting, player personnel and analytics processes.

Tall has played an integral role in Columbus’ hiring of head coach Wilfried Nancy in December 2022, as well as the club’s acquisition of international talent like Cucho Hernández and Diego Rossi. All the while, the Crew have emphasized elevated player performance throughout the first team, MLS NEXT Pro and academy.

The France native gained critical experience at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich (2016-19) while working in the federation’s team services and competition department – the group responsible for organizing the World Cup and other FIFA competitions. He's also served in Toronto FC's player personnel and scouting department (2014-15) and MLS Headquarters’ player competition department (2013).

"It’s an honor to become the general manager of the Columbus Crew, especially knowing firsthand the great people, history and fans of our club. I’m incredibly grateful to the Haslam, Johnson and Edwards families for this new role, as well as their and Tim Bezbatchenko’s significant contributions to the club’s and my growth since joining Columbus," said Tall.

"While I’m excited about this opportunity for many reasons, the vision, culture and commitment to excellence we share is at the top of the list. Everyone is dedicated to improving and being their best for our team, city and supporters, and I thank Wilfried Nancy, our players and the entire technical staff for creating that type of environment as we strive to accomplish our goals."

The Crew standard

Columbus, site of the 2024 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, have set a league-wide standard in many respects since new ownership took over in 2019. Aside from on-field trophies, the Crew completed the construction of world-class facilities Field and the OhioHealth Performance Center.

The Crew are widely considered an MLS Cup contender again in 2024, looking to continue the organization’s “One Club” vision and collaboration of Crew technical leadership. Last year, that blossomed in Columbus tying a club record with 57 points (third in the MLS Supporters’ Shield) and scoring an MLS-best 67 regular-season goals.

"In addition to having strong relationships with Wilfried Nancy, our players and staff, Issa is highly qualified to be our general manager as one of MLS’ most respected soccer executives based on his time with the Crew, Toronto FC and the league office, as well as FIFA headquarters," said Dee and Jimmy Haslam. "While some midseason transitions present challenges, we are confident Issa’s vast experience and familiarity with our club’s personnel and long-term strategy will seamlessly allow us to continue our success in 2024 and the future.

"We also thank Tim for his leadership and dedication to the club and fans since we first joined the Crew family. Tim was integral to our success over the past five years and positioned our team to consistently compete for championships moving forward. We wish him, Annie and their family the best as they start this new chapter in their lives," the Haslams added.