COLUMBUS – Columbus Crew SC today announced that the core of its 2020 MLS Cup-winning roster is set to return for the 2021 season. Crew SC exercised the contract options on eight players from its 2020 roster. With 14 other players already under contract for the 2021 season, the announcement gives the Black & Gold a roster that currently features 22 players.
Crew SC exercised the options of goalkeeper Eloy Room; defenders Harrison Afful, Grant Lillard, Milton Valenzuela and Josh Williams; midfielders Derrick Etienne Jr. and Pedro Santos; as well as forward Miguel Berry. Goalkeepers Evan Bush, Jon Kempin and Matt Lampson; defenders Chris Cadden, Aboubacar Keita, Jonathan Mensah and Vito Wormgoor; midfielders Artur, Sebastian Berhalter, Luis Diaz, Aidan Morris, Darlington Nagbe and Lucas Zelarayan; as well as forward Gyasi Zardes are already under contract.
“Despite all the challenges we encountered during the 2020 season, our team was able to bring Columbus its second MLS Cup,” said Crew SC President and General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “As we turn our attention towards the 2021 season, we are glad to welcome back the core of our squad. While we have achieved one of our goals by winning MLS Cup, we want to continue to build off the success of this season and will look to continue to strengthen our roster in pursuit of that. Next year will also see us open the New Crew Stadium as well as the OhioHealth Performance Center - two state-of-the-art facilities - so we are thrilled for what’s ahead in 2021."
The Crew simultaneously announced that it has declined the contract options of goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell; midfielders Fatai Alashe, Emmanuel Boateng and Youness Mokhtar; along with forwards Jordan Hamilton and Krisztian Nemeth. Defender Waylon Francis, midfielder Hector Jimenez and forward Fanendo Adi are all out of contract. The Club will remain in dialogue with players out of contract.
Crew SC won MLS Cup 2020 this past Saturday, marking the second time the Club has won the trophy. In addition to winning MLS Cup, Crew SC finished the 2020 regular season in third place in the Eastern Conference standings, as well as in fourth place in the Supporters’ Shield standings – the highest finish for the Black & Gold since the 2015 season. Notably, the Crew posted a dominant home record of 13-1-0 when playing at MAPFRE Stadium in regular-season and post-season action.
The Major League Soccer Trade Window opened yesterday at 9:00 a.m. ET and closed at 1:00 p.m. ET, when a blackout period began. During this blackout period, clubs may not sign or trade players until the conclusion of the Expansion Draft, which is set to be held on Tuesday, December 15. MLS will release the list of players available for selection in the Expansion Draft today at 1:00 p.m. ET.
The End-of-Year Waivers is scheduled for Wednesday, December 16 at 1:00 p.m. ET, with Free Agency also beginning at that time. Finally, the MLS Re-Entry Process begins with Stage 1 on Thursday, December 17 at 1:00 p.m. ET, while Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Process is set to take place on Tuesday, December 22 at 1:00 p.m. ET. A full MLS list of players eligible for Free Agency, End-of-Year Waivers and the Re-Entry Process will be announced by the League in the near future.
Crew SC's current roster headed into 2021, listed alphabetically by position, is below:
Goalkeepers (4): Evan Bush, Jon Kempin, Matt Lampson, Eloy Room
Defenders (8): Harrison Afful, Chris Cadden, Aboubacar Keita, Jonathan Mensah, Milton Valenzuela, Josh Williams, Vito Wormgoor
Midfielders (8): Artur, Sebastian Berhalter, Luis Diaz, Derrick Etienne, Jr., Grant Lillard, Aidan Morris, Darlington Nagbe, Pedro Santos, Lucas Zelarayan
Forwards (2): Miguel Berry, Gyasi Zardes