Waylon Francis was instrumental in Columbus Crew SC’s 2015 MLS Cup run. The Costa Rican left back had seven assists in 28 starts, leading all Major League Soccer defenders in the category and earning himself a spot in the MLS All-Star Game two years ago.
After that, though, the 26-year-old defender has gone through some rough moments, struggling with injuries and getting limited playing time with the Black & Gold. Last
“He’s a guy that has had an up and down season, he’s always remained positive, he’s always remained team oriented and when guys get opportunities like that, it’s great when they’re able to perform,” head coach Gregg Berhalter said after the match. “We’re really happy for Waylon and I’d give him a good performance.”
Francis’ torment started in 2016, when he failed to keep the level of his game and lost his starting spot to veteran Corey Ashe. In August, the left back suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery and made him miss the remainder of the season.
When the 2017 season started, Francis was still recovering from the surgery and had a new competitor in town: Finnish international Jukka Raitala. In May, when he was in better shape, he had a good run, starting four out of six matches, but after that he would miss the next eight.
Against the Fire, he played only his 10th game of the season.
“My own performance was good, it was important,” Francis commented. “I was feeling it tonight, I was really positive to perform well in this game. When the game started that’s what I was thinking about. It’s going to give me good momentum. It’s important to continue to work hard and stay focused.”
Francis’ assist will also be part of club’s history as it led to Justin Meram’s goal, which happened to be Crew SC’s 1,000th in MLS. The left back also made an important intervention in the defensive end, as he tackled Nemanja Nikolic inside the box as the forward was about to finish from a very dangerous position.
In what is expected to be a tough race for playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, Francis has the potential to become a very important weapon for Crew SC as the regular season comes to its end.