Columbus Crew SC looked inside MLS to add depth to the backline by selecting Josh Williams in the 2nd Stage of the Re-Entry Draft today. Williams had played with Toronto FC last year, but was out of contract. Crew SC will now extend a genuine offer within the next seven days.
An Ohio native, Williams is very familiar to Crew SC fans. Williams is from the northeastern Ohio town of Copley and played collegately at Cleveland State. He signed with Columbus as an undrafted player in 2010. He failed to make an appearance in 2010 or 2011, before breaking through in 2012. He would start 27 games after injuries struck the backline. He then solidified his spot in 2013 with another 25 starts.
His playing time decreased under Berhalter, dropping to 13 starts in 2014. After being picked in the 2015 expansion draft, Williams played five games for New York City FC before heading to Toronto in a midseason trade. He'd make 27 appearances over his two seasons with the Reds.
Williams has played all along the backline. He played centerback initially for Columbus before moving outside to both the right and left back spots. He played centerback again in Toronto's 3-man backline during his stint there. Williams is an athletic player who has developed into a solid defensive player who can provide depth.
Columbus is looking for quality along the back after the team traded away captain Michael Parkhurst to Atlanta and announced that Gaston Sauro will miss the 2017 season with knee problems. Backup Tyson Wahl retired after the end of the season. The team currently has Nicolai Naess and homegrown rookie Alex Crognale as the only two centerbacks on the roster.
While Williams is not signed to a new deal, the Ohio native still has strong ties to the state and several players on the team from his first stint. A return to Crew SC might suit his career at this stage and give the team a proven role player who can step in when needed.