Transfer Tracker

Columbus Crew sign homegrown defender Keegan Hughes

Keegan Hughes - Columbus Crew (3) copy


The Columbus Crew have signed homegrown defender Keegan Hughes to a first-team contract, the club announced Wednesday.

Hughes' deal runs through the 2024 MLS season, with club options for both 2025 and 2026. The 22-year-old returns to his hometown side after a standout four-year collegiate career at Stanford, where he served as team captain during his senior season in 2022.

“We are thrilled to welcome another Crew Academy player to the first team,” Columbus president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in a release. “During his time at Stanford, Keegan proved himself to be one of the top defenders in the collegiate game, and we are excited for him to return home to central Ohio.

"This signing is a testament to the tireless efforts of Kelvin Jones and the Crew Academy staff. The Academy has continued to provide a pathway to the professional ranks as we cultivate and develop top youth talent in the state and region. We look forward to working with Keegan as he takes this important next step in his career.”

A native of Heath, Ohio, Hughes becomes the 20th homegrown signing in Crew history, joining midfielders Aidan Morris, Isaiah Parente and Sean Zawadzki as academy products on the current roster. He first joined the Crew Academy in 2013 as a 13-year-old, eventually getting named Academy Player of the Year in 2018 before heading to Stanford.

Hughes enjoyed a decorated final campaign with the Cardinal, getting named a First-Team All-American and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year while leading Stanford to a conference-leading nine shutouts and the Sweet 16 of the NCAA College Cup Tournament.

Hughes joins a Crew side looking to bounce back after missing the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in 2022, leading to the dismissal of head coach Caleb Porter and the hiring of Wilfried Nancy from CF Montréal. It's the second defensive addition the club has made this offseason, joining free-agent signee Jimmy Medranda from Seattle Sounders FC.