The Columbus Crew announced Wednesday that they are send five players to the Dayton Dutch Lions of the USL PRO as part of their affiliate partnership formed in December.
Ryan Finley, Kevan George, Ross Friedman, and Matt Walker will spend 2014 training and playing with the Lions and goalkeeper Brad Stuver will be available for Dayton's games but will remain with the Black and Gold for training.
"We're excited about the new partnership with Dayton and the additional opportunities it provides to develop more players on our roster," Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter told TheCrew.com. "It provides our new professionals with a smoother introduction to the rigors of professional soccer. Other players need minutes and experience to continue their development and Dayton provides them with an opportunity to play games at a very competitive level."
Finley is beginning his second season with the Crew. The forward made 14 appearances - three starts - and registered one goal and one assist in his rookie campaign.
George is a a third year player who split his 18 appearances between midfield and defense.
Friedman and Walker are both rookie homegrown players who signed with the team in early January. Friedman, a defender, returns to Columbus from Harvard University and Walker, a midfield player, played at Xavier University.
Stuver spent time with the Crew in 2013 as an MLS pool goalkeeper. He was drafted in the second round of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft by the Montreal Impact.
The loan will allow players to gain experience they likely would not get with Columbus. According to the deal, these players can be recalled at any point by the Black and Gold if needed.
As part of the agreement, the Crew help provide the Lions to fill positions of need while also taking into account the players they would like to gain match experience. This benefits both teams as Dayton receives players to help in their season and Columbus' players are more likely to see the field.
Members of each team's coaching staffs will be able to watch training and games in order to evaluate players. This provides Berhalter an opportunity to scout talent as well as the Lions' coaching staff to become familiar with the players in Black and Gold.