COLUMBUS – Columbus Crew today announced that it has signed Jalil Anibaba [pronounced ah-knee-BAH-bah] via Free Agency. The veteran defender joins the Black & Gold for the 2022 Major League Soccer season with an option for 2023. Anibaba has started 214 of the 240 regular-season matches in which he has appeared, scoring seven goals and adding 14 assists. The 33-year-old has two Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles and one Supporters’ Shield to his name.
“Jalil is a veteran player with more than a decade of experience in MLS, and his addition to our roster will help bolster the backline,” said Columbus Crew President & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Jalil is a leader on and off the field, and we’re pleased that a player with the breadth of his experience in MLS chose to sign with the Crew, and we look forward to having him join our team.”
Anibaba joins the Crew after most recently spending the 2020 and 2021 seasons with Nashville SC, where he appeared in 21 regular-season matches.
Selected ninth overall in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft by Chicago Fire FC, in his rookie season, Anibaba started 27 of the 29 regular-season matches in which he appeared, setting a club record for appearances by a rookie. Additionally, his long-distance game-winner in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match against the Colorado Rapids on March 31, 2011, was selected as the club’s Goal of the Year.
Through the 2013 season, Anibaba appeared in 96 regular-season matches for the Fire, scoring four goals and tallying five assists in league play.
In 2014, Anibaba appeared in 16 regular-season matches for Seattle Sounders FC, helping the Sounders capture both the Supporters’ Shield and the U.S. Open Cup trophies that season. The following year with Sporting Kansas City, Anibaba appeared in 16 league matches and won his second U.S. Open Cup title.
The right-footed central defender spent two seasons each with Houston Dynamo FC (2016-2017) and New England Revolution (2018-2019) before being selected by Nashville in the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft.
The Davis, California, native has tallied one assist in nine career MLS Cup Playoff matches.
Anibaba additionally serves as an Executive Board Member for the Black Players for Change organization.
Crew players are set to report for entrance physicals and testing on January 16 before departing for a training camp in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from January 18-28. With the seasonal bubble currently encompassing the field at Historic Crew Stadium, the Crew will train in-market from February 1-6 at the OhioHealth Performance Center prior to traveling to Charleston, South Carolina, for the second trip of the preseason from February 7-19.
The Black & Gold are set to open the 2022 MLS season by hosting Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Lower.com Field in Opening Match on Saturday, February 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET. Following the home opener, the Crew hits the road and travels to face the San Jose Earthquakes at PayPal Park on March 5 for the first away match of the season. The Crew’s full schedule for the 2022 MLS regular season can be found at ColumbusCrew.com.
The 2022 season will be the Black & Gold’s first full season at Lower.com Field, located in Astor Park. Fans looking to experience Crew matches have a number of options as Season Ticket Members for 2022, which include benefits such as private, member-only events; a 10 percent discount at the Crew Shop; monthly, interest-free payment plans; the ability to purchase discounted parking; pre-sale access to all events at Lower.com Field, Historic Crew Stadium and FirstEnergy Stadium; and a dedicated account manager and service representative.
Fans can also choose between various packages that offer great benefits and ticket discounts, including Nine-Match Ticket Plans, Five-Match Ticket Plans, and Group Ticket Plans which are on sale now. Fans can additionally purchase single-match tickets, which are now available.Supporters interested in securing their seat for the 2022 season can call 614-447-2739, visit columbuscrew.com/ticketsor email firstname.lastname@example.org to get connected with a Ticket Sales Representative.
TRANSACTION: Columbus Crew signs defender Jalil Anibaba via Free Agency for the 2022 season with an option for 2023, announced on January 14, 2022.