COLUMBUS – After five seasons with the Black & Gold, Laurent Courtois has been hired as First Team head coach of CF Montreal. Courtois joined the Club in 2019 as head coach for the Under-17 Academy team and was elevated to Crew 2 head coach in 2022. He was named the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro Coach of the Year after leading the team to the title and guided the squad to back-to-back MLS NEXT Pro Cup appearances, both hosted at Lower.com Field.
“We are extremely proud that Laurent has earned this opportunity to lead a team in MLS,” said Columbus Crew President and General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “One of our primary goals for Crew 2 is to prepare players, staff, and coaches for the next level. Laurent’s new role is a testament to the person he is and quality of his work, not only at the MLS Next Pro level but through our entire club. It is rewarding for everyone here in Columbus to see Laurent get this opportunity. We thank Laurent for his contributions to the Club and his commitment to our staff and players during the past five years.”
“I would like to personally thank Laurent for his dedication to Crew 2 these past two seasons and our Club since joining in 2019,” said Columbus Crew 2 General Manager Corey Wray. “Building the team together and leading two distinct groups to back-to-back MLS NEXT Pro Cup Finals is a testament to Laurent’s understanding of the game, his attention to detail, and unique ability to lead a squad. We are excited and very proud of Laurent to showcase his abilities in Montreal after earning this opportunity.”
Courtois becomes the first ever MLS NEXT Pro coach to be elevated to a head coaching position in MLS.
In 2022, Courtois led Crew 2 to the best regular-season record (16-3-5, 55 points) in MLS NEXT Pro. The team captured the Central Division Title and the Eastern Conference’s top seed in the MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs. Under his guidance, Columbus was first in the League in points, wins, goals (55), goal differential (+40) and home record (11-1-0). The side also had the fewest losses and tied for the fewest goals allowed (22). Under his direction, Crew 2 claimed a 4-1 victory over St Louis CITY in the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro Cup.
With a significantly younger group in 2023, when 16 players 18-years-old and under earned minutes, Courtois and Crew 2 again captured the Eastern Conference title to reach their second consecutive MLS NEXT Pro Cup.
Courtois started with the Crew as head coach of the Crew Academy’s Under-17 team in 2019 before taking on the role of U-19 head coach in 2021. His previous coaching experience included working as an assistant coach for LA Galaxy II, as well as serving as head coach for French side Olympique Lyonnais Academy – which he attended as a youth player – at the U-16 and U-15 levels. Courtois also worked as an assistant coach for the Olympique Lyonnais Academy’s U-17 squad.