MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

Sources: Columbus Crew make CF Montréal's Wilfried Nancy head coach target

Wilfried Nancy

The Columbus Crew have made CF Montréal manager Wilfried Nancy a target for their vacant head coaching job, sources tell

Sources add Nancy's 2023 contract option was automatically triggered by the club making the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs, meaning Columbus would need Montréal's permission to officially interview Nancy. They would also need to compensate CFMTL if Nancy were to leave and take the Crew job.

Nancy, 45, was just voted runner-up for the 2022 Sigi Schmid MLS Coach of the Year award, which narrowly went to Philadelphia Union manager Jim Curtin.

Crew opening

The Crew parted ways with Caleb Porter one day (Oct. 10) after the 2022 regular season, missing the playoffs for the third time in four years during Porter's tenure. Columbus is viewed as perhaps the most attractive vacancy in MLS right now, with stars Lucas Zelarayan, Cucho Hernandez and Darlington Nagbe leading the roster – and there's a brand-new stadium ( Field) and training facility (OhioHealth Performance Center).

Columbus recently began their coaching search and Nancy isn't the only name on their list.

Nancy's input

When asked about his future at a media availability on Tuesday, Nancy was noncommittal.

"Today is the end-of-season presser, I don't want to talk about my situation," Nancy said. "We'll have time to talk about it later, but now we talk about the season."

Olivier Renard, Montréal's vice president and chief sporting officer, noted the club want to "continue with Nancy for many years."

When reached for input, both clubs declined to comment.

A rising profile

Nancy led CFM to a strong season, finishing second in the Eastern Conference with a club-record 65 points. They've played an attractive, front-foot style of soccer during his two years at the club, taking over just ahead of preseason camp in 2021 when Thierry Henry decided to step away from the club.

Montréal used only one of their three Designated Player spots (Victor Wanyama) and were among the bottom third in salary spend, per MLS Players Association figures, but punched above their weight.

Nancy helped develop numerous players, including midfielder Djordje Mihailovic en route to his near-$6 million transfer to AZ Alkmaar for 2023. Another player to develop under Nancy is budding Canadian international Ismael Kone, who is very likely to be on Canada's World Cup roster and very likely to be transferred to Europe in a lucrative deal this winter. He came close to moves to English Championship sides Norwich City and Sheffield United this summer, yet stayed in Montréal.

Crew's timeline

Columbus, after dropping 24 points from winning positions in 2022 (including 11 points in stoppage time), hope to appoint a new head coach over the next six weeks or so.

“We'd obviously plan and want to have our coach in place for the beginning of preseason even though it is the earliest preseason we've had in MLS history,” Crew president Tim Bezbatchenko said two weeks ago. “From there, ideally by December, although whether or not that's December 1 or mid-December we won't know.

"Some of it will be determined by when we can speak to certain candidates, whether or not we are looking to talk to coaches who are still playing. That all factors in. I would say by December we're hoping to have it finalized, but as we all know these things are unpredictable.”