Transfer Tracker

Columbus Crew sign Crew 2 forward Jacen Russell-Rowe


  • CLB receive: Homegrown Priority to Jacen Russel-Rowe
  • TOR receive: $50,000 in General Allocation Money

The Columbus Crew have signed MLS NEXT Pro-leading scorer Jacen Russell-Rowe through the 2024 season with options for 2025 and 2026, the club announced Wednesday.

Russell-Rowe, 19, is the first player to sign with Columbus from Crew 2 after posting 11 goals and two assists across 11 matches in the newfound league. He's the eighth MLS NEXT Pro player to sign a first-team contract.

Columbus acquired Russell-Rowe’s homegrown priority from Toronto FC in exchange for $50,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM). Toronto will receive additional allocation funds if certain performance-based incentives are met; they can also receive a sell-on percentage if the Canadian youth international is transferred outside of MLS.

"Jacen has impressed us with his performances for Crew 2 in MLS NEXT Pro and we believe he will continue to develop as a player,” Columbus Crew president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in a release. “This signing showcases the benefits of having a second team and is a testament to the success that Crew 2, and Jacen, are having this year."

Russell-Rowe is currently on a nine-game scoring streak for Crew 2 in MLS NEXT Pro. He's already subbed into two MLS matches, amassing 34 minutes while on short-term loans to the club's first team.

Russell-Rowe will be immediately added to Columbus' roster and is expected to play against Toronto FC on Wednesday in MLS Week 17 (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; TSN in Canada). Despite being from Canada, Russell-Rowe will be considered a domestic player due to homegrown player rules from approved Canadian clubs.

“Having the first Crew 2 player sign for the first team is a milestone moment for our club and over time we hope that Jacen is the first of many Crew 2 players to join the first team,” said Columbus Crew assistant general manager and Crew 2 general manager Corey Wray. “Across our entire player pathway, we want to create a structure that prepares players for each level of growth in their soccer careers. We are proud that Crew 2 is able to provide additional opportunities for young players as our goal continues to be developing high potential players that can thrive, grow and target reaching the first team.”

The signing comes a week after the Black & Gold acquired Colombian international Cucho Hernandez from English Championship side Watford FC. Other forwards on Columbus' roster include Miguel Berry and Erik Hurtado. Hernandez won't be eligible to debut until July 9 at Chicago Fire FC.

Before turning pro, Russell-Rowe played for the University of Maryland from 2020-21 and in Toronto FC's academy. He competed for Canada at the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil.