Transfer Tracker

Columbus Crew sign Ukrainian center back Yevhen Cheberko

Yevhen Cheberko Crew


The Columbus Crew have acquired Ukrainian center back Yevhen Cheberko from Croatian top-flight side NK Osijek, the club announced Friday morning.

The 25-year-old has signed through the 2026 MLS season. He won’t be eligible for selection until the league’s Secondary Transfer Window opens on July 5. A visa process needs to unfold as well.

Cheberko has played roughly 120 games combined in the Croatian and Ukranian first divisions for NK Osijek and FC Zorya Luhansk, plus featured in the Austrian Bundesliga for LASK. He’s earned one cap for Ukraine’s senior side, appearing in an October 2020 friendly against France. 

"Yevhen is a talented player with a high ceiling who will help solidify the core of our backline and provide more tactical flexibility," Crew president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in a release. "Yevhen has a nice balance of defensive and offensive attributes in his game and will be a welcomed addition during the summer transfer window.

"I’d like to recognize Issa Tall, Neil McGuinness and our entire leadership team who established strong processes to identify and recruit players like Yevhen who possess the characteristics we desire for our club. Their efforts were critical to acquiring Yevhen, and we look forward to him joining us in Columbus and making an impact once the window opens."

How Cheberko fits

Cheberko gives Columbus a left-footed center back who fits into the three-man backline (with wingbacks) that new head coach Wilfried Nancy utilizes. He’d be their fourth natural center back acquired in the last half-year, joining Gustavo Vallecilla (on loan from Colorado Rapids) and youngsters Keegan Hughes and Philip Quinton

The club's injury situation may improve by the time Cheberko is available, but Columbus have weathered some key absences in the heart of their defense. Vallecilla, Milos Degenek and Josh Williams have all missed varying lengths of time – causing Nancy to get creative. Left back Malte Amudsen (trade from NYCFC) has played centrally in Nancy’s system, as has converted right back Steven Moreira.  

All the moving pieces occur after Columbus traded Ghanaian international center back Jonathan Mensah to the San Jose Earthquakes in February. Mensah was previously the club's captain and helped them win MLS Cup 2020.

Heading into Matchday 18, Columbus sit sixth in the Eastern Conference standings (24 points from 16 games) while chasing an Audi MLS Cup Playoffs return.