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Columbus Crew SC confirmed today that the core of its 2015 Eastern Conference Championship-winning side is set to return in 2016 as the club announced that it has exercised the contract options on 11 players from its 2015 roster, while 10 others were already under contract for next season, giving the club a roster that currently features 21 players.

The club picked-up the options of goalkeeper Brad Stuver; defenders Harrison Afful, Chad Barson, Sergio Campbell, Waylon Francis, Chris Klute and Michael Parkhurst; and midfielders Romain Gall, Hector Jimenez, Justin Meram and Wil Trapp.

The Black & Gold simultaneously announced that they have declined the contract options of defender Emanuel Pogatetz and midfielder Kristinn Steindorsson. Midfielder Ben Speas and goalkeeper Matt Lampson are out of contract. Pogatetz, Speas and Steindorsson are eligible for the MLS Waiver Draft, taking place this Wednesday, December 9 at 4:30 p.m. ET. Lampson is eligible for the MLS Re-Entry Process, which begins with Stage One this Friday, December 11 at 3:00 p.m. ET. A full League list of players eligible for Free Agency, the Waiver Draft and Re-Entry Process will be announced by MLS.

Midfielder Kevan George and forwards Jack McInerney and Aaron Schoenfeld are out of contract and Crew SC is currently in discussions with those three players.

“2016 preparations are underway and our aim is to keep the core group of the team together while being in position to make additional roster improvements for next season,” said Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “While decisions to part with players are never easy, we’d like to thank all the players for their contributions throughout the year.”

Crew SC's current 2016 roster follows:

Goalkeepers (2): Steve Clark, Brad Stuver

Defenders (8): Harrison Afful, Chad Barson, Sergio Campbell, Waylon Francis, Chris Klute, Michael Parkhurst, Gaston Sauro, Tyson Wahl

Midfielders (10): Ethan Finlay, Romain Gall, Federico Higuain, Hector Jimenez, Cedrick Mabwati, Justin Meram, Mohammed Saeid, Ben Swanson, Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp

Forwards (1): Kei Kamara

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