Nicolai Naess - Stabaek - Nat Borchers - Portland Timbers
Craig Mitchelldyer / Portland Timberes

Columbus Crew SC sign Norwegian center back Nicolai Naess

Some much-needed center back helped arrived for Columbus Crew SC on Thursday morning, as the club announced the signing of defender Nicolai Naess from Norwegian club Stabaek.

Columbus used Targeted Allocation Money to acquire the 23-year-old Naess, who will occupy one of the team's international roster slots as a Discovery Signing. He will join the club pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P-1 Visa.

Naess (above, left) has made 74 appearances in Norway's top division, the Tippeligaen, and made his professional debut in 2012. He started his career with Valerenga before moving to Stabaek in 2013. His time at Stabaek included two years under former MLS and US national team coach Bob Bradley, where the team appeared in two straight Norwegian Cup semifinals and qualified for the Europa League with an unlikely third-place finish in the 2015 season.

“Nicolai is a young, talented defender that brings a significant amount of experience from the top flight in Norway,” said Crew SC sporting director and head coach Gregg Berhalter in a statement provided by the team. “We believe he can make an immediate impact for the club and we look forward to integrating him into our system.”

Naess has also scored two league goals and another in cup play in his professional career, but will first and foremost be relied on for his defense as he slots into a Crew SC backline that has been hobbled by a long-term injury to Gaston Sauro. Crew SC currently sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, five points out of a playoff spot, and have won just once in their last 12 league games.