Columbus Crew SC announced on Wednesday that right back Harrison Afful will return to the team after signing a new contract. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. This comes after the team announced last week that it was still negotiating with the Ghanian.
“We are glad to have reached an agreement with Harrison which allows him to remain with Crew SC,” Crew president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in the press release. “Harrison has emerged as one of the Crew’s veteran voices since joining the Club and his contributions as a leader are vital to the success of our team. I also want thank our Technical Director Pat Onstad for his efforts to get this over the line.”
Afful, 33, joined the Black & Gold in July of 2015 and made nine regular season starts and added five playoff starts as the team made a run to the MLS Cup Final. Afful was named the team’s Defender of the Year in 2016 after making 30 appearances, scoring three times and adding three assists.
The fullback has been an integral part of the Crew attack, scoring five goals and adding 14 assists in 117 regular season appearances. His offensive output is more than any other defender during his tenure, often marauding forward into the attacking zone.
Former Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter tasked Afful with adding to the team’s attack through overlapping runs or finding seams in the team’s possession offense. The wing back often popped up on the right side of the field, even tucking inside of the wingers.
Afful also made an impact in the team’s playoff runs, especially in 2017, memorably punctuating the home game of the New York City FC series with a late goal.
Making 83 appearances, Afful remains a stalwart of the Ghanaian national team during his tenure in Major League Soccer. He was part of the successful qualification campaigns for the 2010 and 2014 World Cup and the failed 2018 campaign. Afful has made two World Cup Finals appearances during the 2014 World Cup.
Last season, Afful became a key piece to first-year head coach Caleb Porter’s team. Despite missing two months after suffering a broken jaw in late March, Afful made 22 appearances for the Black & Gold, recording two assists.
Afful faces more competition in the 2020 season with the arrival of Scottish right back Chris Cadden to Columbus. Signed from Motherwell on a free transfer in the summer, Cadden is on loan at Oxford United and is expected in the Crew’s camp for the opening of the MLS season.