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Waylon Francis' Loss is Columbus Crew SC's Gain

The Black & Gold can benefit from no call-up for Francis to the Costa Rican national team.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday came and went and no Columbus Crew SC left back, Waylon Franciswas not selected by Costa Rican head coach Paulo Wanchope after being a member of last summer's FIFA World Cup Finals team.

Francis has only made two appearances for Los Ticos, but has consistently been a part of the roster for his country. While he was not a lock to make the Gold Cup squad, it seemed like a safe bet.

Columbus head coach Gregg Berhalter has always said it's good to have players compete in international competitions. It not only gets the players experience playing at a higher level, but also increases the exposure of Crew SC.

With that said, Berhalter will be happy to keep his starting left back at home during a difficult stretch in Major League Soccer and U.S. Open Cup play.

While he will surely be disappointed to not compete in the Gold Cup for Costa Rica, Francis can now focus his attention on his duties with the Black & Gold.

Francis has played and started in 12 of 15 games played by Crew SC this year and is currently tied for the league lead in assists by defenders with four. After leading the league in that department a year ago, Francis had become a key cog in what Columbus does offensively and defensively.

While occupying the left back role, Francis operates more as a winger or wing back in Berhalter's system.

Typically, Francis is behind midfielder Justin Meram, but the Iraq international plays more centrally, allowing Francis to get up and down the flanks and provide the majority of the crosses from the left side.

Defensively, Francis has been a bright spot on a group that's allowed 22 goals in 15 games this season. Francis is fast and athletic, allowing him to recover from his advanced positions quickly. He is pretty good in one v. one situations, staying in front of his man or forcing him into spaces the opponent does not want to go.

If Francis had been called up for the Gold Cup, he would have missed up to two weeks and three matches for the Black & Gold. If Costa Rica were to advance beyond the group stage, which is a distinct possibility, Francis would have missed even more time.

Berhalter would have likely turned to outside back Chris Klute, who was acquired in a draft day-trade with the Colorado Rapids. Klute has made seven appearances with Crew SC this season, four starts, but hasn't played since the May 30 match with Orlando City SC.

In his limited minutes this year Klute has been up and down, performing better on the right side than the left.

With Francis available for selection, Berhalter will have his first-choice lineup going forward, allowing him to hopefully get Columbus back on track after a poor eight game stretch.

That will begin on Wednesday when Crew SC welcome the New England Revolution to MAPFRE Stadium.

After a week and a half since their last match, the Black & Gold players, including Francis, should be well rested and ready to go when they take the field.