COLUMBUS – Columbus Crew 2 today announced that it has signed defender Stuart Ritchie to an MLS NEXT Pro professional contract. The 21-year-old brings four years of European experience to the defending MLS NEXT Pro Cup champions and joins the Crew after most recently helping lead Richmond Kickers to the USL League One regular season title in 2022. Contract terms were not disclosed.
“We are excited to have Stuart join us in Columbus. He is a versatile, attack-minded defender who will complement our backline,” said Crew 2 General Manager Corey Wray. “Stuart gained valuable experience during his time in Europe and was able to continue his development in 2022 while in Richmond, which is a testament to the program Rob Ukrop and Darren Sawatzky have built with the Kickers. We look forward to helping Stuart further progress and continue to develop his game while wearing the Black & Gold.”
During the 2022 season, Ritchie appeared in 25 matches for Richmond (24 starts), and scored one goal, helping the Kickers to a 14-9-7 record to finish the regular season atop the table, five points ahead of their closest competitors.
Ritchie spent one season with the San Jose Earthquakes Academy prior to heading abroad and moving to Holland in 2018 at the age of 16 to join FC Groningen. He spent his first season with the Under-17 side prior to being promoted to the U-19s and eventually the U-23s from 2018-2019.
In 2019, Ritchie made the move to Germany, joining Hannover 96’s U-19 side where he started all 15 matches in which he appeared and led the team in minutes with 1,278. He remained with Hannover through the 2020-21 season before returning to the United States.
The Pleasanton, Calif., native took part in the U-18 Men’s National Team’s Summit Camp in 2018 and represented the U-20s in 2019 and has earned a combined three caps for the United States at the youth level.
The MLS NEXT Pro 2023 regular-season schedule and ticketing information for Crew 2 home games will be released in the coming months.
The updated Crew 2 roster currently stands at 12 players and is listed alphabetically by position below:
Defenders (4): Jacob Erlandson, Ariel Mbumba, Abdirizak Mohamed, Stuart Ritchie
Midfielders (4): Coleman Gannon, Marco Micaletto, Stephen “Nana” Tuffour, Aidan Wolf
Forwards (4): Noah Fuson, Jordan Knight, Gibran Rayo, Zion Scarlett
TRANSACTION: Columbus Crew 2 signs defender Stuart Ritchie on January 24, 2023
Name: Stuart Ritchie
Weight: 154 lbs.
Date of Birth: September 10, 2001, in Pleasanton, CA
Citizenship: United States
Acquired:Signed by Columbus Crew 2 on January 24, 2023
Previous Experience: Richmond Kickers (2022), Hannover 96 II (2019-2021), Hannover 96 U-19 (2019-2020), FC Groningen U-19 (2018-2019)
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