Columbus Crew SC added to their backline on Friday, announcing that they have acquired Finnish defender Jukka Raitala as a discovery signing.
Raitala, 28, joins Crew SC after recording one goal and five assists in 28 appearances in 2016 with Norwegian top-flight club Sogndal IL. Prior to joining Sogndal, Raitala played parts of two seasons in the Danish Superlig, two and a half years with Dutch club Heerenveen, a season with Real Osasuna in La Liga, four years in the Bundesliga and three in his native Finland.
The outside back has played a total of 263 professional matches across all competitions during his career. He’s earned 36 senior national team caps for Finland, 10 of which have come in 2016.
“Jukka joins Columbus Crew SC as a talented defender with significant experience across European top-flight clubs and with the Finland national team,” Columbus sporting director and head coach Gregg Berhalter said in a statement released by the club. “We are pleased to welcome Jukka to Columbus and look forward to integrating him into our system for the 2017 campaign.”
He joins a Crew SC squad that has lost several important defenders this winter. The club traded former starting center back Michael Parkhurst to Atlanta earlier this month, and Berhalter revealed on Monday that the team will be without center back Gaston Sauro for the season due to knee injuries. Columbus signed 22-year-old center back Alex Crognale to a Homegrown deal on Wednesday and selected Josh Williams from Toronto FC in Stage 2 of the MLS Re-Entry Draft on Thursday, giving them the right to negotiate with the 28-year-old defender.