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Columbus Crew SC exercise options on nine players for 2018

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The Black & Gold have the core of their roster returning next season.

Toronto FC v Columbus Crew SC - Eastern Conference Finals - Leg 1 Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Columbus Crew SC’s season came to an end one game sooner than the team liked following the 1-0 loss to Toronto FC in leg two of the Eastern Conference Finals.

With 2017 now officially in the books, Gregg Berhalter and Crew SC have moved on to the offseason and that means getting the 2018 roster prepared.

On Friday, Columbus announced the club exercised the contract options on nine players: defenders Lalas Abubakar, Harrison Afful, Connor Maloney and Josh Williams, midfielders Artur, Mohammed Abu, Niko Hansen and Cristian Martinez and forward Ola Kamara.

“Preparations for 2018 are underway and we are pleased to bring back the core of this year’s roster for next year,” Berhalter said in the press release. “We came just short of our goal of returning to MLS Cup, but will look to continue to shape our roster in an effort to improve for the 2018 campaign.”

Crew SC also announce the club did not pick up the options on goalkeepers Logan Ketterer and Brad Stuver, defenders Waylon Francis and Gaston Sauro and midfielders Marshall Hollingsworth, Abuchi Obinwa, Rodrigo Saravia and Ben Swanson. The press release stated that the Black & Gold will remain in discussions with Sauro and Francis.

Columbus will continue dialogue with Brazilian club Sao Paulo FC regarding midfielder Artur, who spent the 2017 on loan with the Black & Gold.

Per the press release:

A full Major League Soccer list of players eligible for Free Agency, the Waiver Draft and Re-Entry Draft will be announced by the League. The MLS Half-Day Trade window takes place between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 10 and the Expansion Draft is set to be held on Tuesday, December 12 at 2:00 p.m. ET. Later that same day, MLS Free Agency begins at 3:00 p.m. ET. The MLS Waiver Draft is scheduled for Wednesday, December 13 at 3:30 p.m. ET and the MLS Re-Entry Draft begins with Stage One on Friday, December 15 at 3:00 p.m. ET. Stage Two of the Re-Entry Draft takes place on Thursday, December 21 at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Current 2018 Crew SC roster:

Goalkeepers (1): Zack Steffen

Defenders (7): Lalas Abubakar, Harrison Afful, Alex Crognale, Connor Maloney, Jonathan Mensah, Jukka Raitala, Josh Williams

Midfielders (9): Artur, Mohammed Abu, Niko Hansen, Federico Higuain, Hector Jimenez, Cristian Martinez, Justin Meram, Pedro Santos, Wil Trapp

Forwards (2): Adam Jahn, Ola Kamara