What you need to know

Columbus Crew sign Nancy to contract extension

The Columbus Crew and head coach Wilfried Nancy have reached a contract extension. A Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year finalist the past two seasons, Nancy led Columbus to their third-ever MLS Cup title in 2023. Last year under the Frenchman, they tied a club points record (57) and scored an MLS-best 67 regular season goals.

Escoto named EVP of San Diego FC & Right to Dream Academy

Ahead of their 2025 MLS debut, San Diego FC have appointed Joaquin Escoto as executive VP of both the club and their Right to Dream Academy. Escoto will report directly to club CEO Tom Penn and work closely with San Diego FC founding partner Tom Vernon, and will also oversee all of San Diego FC’s Right to Dream Academy decisions as part of the club's commitment to youth development.

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Looking back at Wilfred Nancy's MLS journey so far

Wilfried Nancy is hanging around Columbus for a little while longer. Or at least he has more incentive to after signing a contract extension yesterday. It might not keep him here if Liverpool come calling—I can make an argument for it, don’t try me—but it probably delays a jump to another league anytime soon.

That’s, obviously, news worth celebrating in Columbus. They would still be an excellent team without Nancy. Teams with Cucho, Diego Rossi and Darlington Nagbe-caliber Designated Players fare just fine. And general manager Tim Bezbatchenko doesn’t get enough credit as a top-tier roster builder in this league. However, Nancy appears to be one of the few managers who have a notable impact for the better.

It’s not so much that he’s a tactical genius. The idea that those even exist is worth debating. It’s more that he has a clear game model that’s aesthetically pleasing, communicates its principles effectively and, in turn, creates trust between his players and that model. When the Crew come back on the road to score twice late against their biggest rival in a conference final or go down to Tigres and pull out a 1-1 draw after going down early, it’s not because Nancy makes some remarkable tactical tweak at that moment. It’s because his players know that, if they stay the course, their talent and the system they’re in will lead to positive results.

That’s not an attempt to be dismissive of Nancy. It’s incredibly hard to earn that trust and have it instilled in everyone on the roster. In MLS, that means getting a response from your DP talents, your youth players and your mid-roster guys. There are plenty of managers with game models that work who can’t and won’t accomplish what Nancy has.

What’s wild is that Nancy appeared to be a significant downgrade when he earned his first head coaching job. Thierry Henry unexpectedly stepped down as CF Montréal manager in late February 2021. Nancy took over two weeks later, just a month out from Montréal’s first game.

Nancy is decidedly not one of the greatest forwards in the history of the sport. Nancy took on a coaching role in Montréal’s academy in 2011 and worked his way up to an assistant role in 2016. That’s a vastly different resume from his predecessor.

He did not take over a team in an ideal situation. The year prior, Montréal went through the oddness of earning 1.13 points per game over 23 games in 2020. Then 2021 began with them living a COVID-era existence in south Florida that wouldn’t end until they were allowed to return home in mid-July.

Unsurprisingly, Montréal were largely an afterthought in 2021, finishing 10th in the league. But in 2022, a year where they didn’t have to spend half the season in a Florida timeshare, they became the surprise of the season. CFM earned 65 points, a conference-high 20 wins and finished the year two points away from winning the Supporters’ Shield. Nancy moved on to Columbus that offseason.

He already has an MLS Cup in hand and could very well have a Concacaf Champions Cup by summertime. It’s a long shot for the Crew to take down Monterrey and likely Club America back-to-back, but so is taking over for then-outperforming Thierry Henry. Columbus can do it. They’re one of the smallest market teams in MLS and it’s not crazy to think they can beat the biggest teams in the region. That’s the kind of confidence Nancy inspires. And it’s not going away anytime soon.

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Good luck out there. Keep good company around as long as you can.