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Crew sends $50,000 in GAM to Sounders for defender Francis following Valenzuela injury

The Black & Gold bring back the veteran left back after one season away.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Chicago Fire Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Update (Feb. 6, 2018; 4:14 p.m. ET): Massive Report was told by sources close to the club that Milton Valenzuela tore his ACL and is expected to miss the 2019 season.

Columbus Crew SC announced on Tuesday that the club has sent $50,000 in General Allocation Money to the Seattle Sounders in exchange for defender Waylon Francis. This will be the veteran left back’s second stint with the Crew, after serving on the Black & Gold roster from 2014-17.

This move comes after Milton Valenzuela, reportedly suffered a serious knee injury in training over the weekend that could cost him the entire 2019, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Entering his sixth year in Major League Soccer, the Costa Rican international has made 94 regular season appearances with 80 starts. Over that stretch, Francis has recorded 19 assists. During his four years with the Black & Gold under former head coach Gregg Berhalter, Francis played in 83 games, starting 75 and recording 18 assists.

“We are pleased to welcome Waylon back to the Club,” Crew president Tim Bezbatchenko said in the press release. “In Waylon, we gain a talented, MLS veteran who adds strong versatility and who knows what it takes to compete in this League as well as at the National Team level. His familiarity with the organization will be beneficial as we re-incorporate him back into this roster and we look forward to his contributions as we prepare for the upcoming season.”

Francis was acquired by the Crew ahead of the 2014 season and made 24 appearances, all starts, with six assists that year. In 2015, the defender made an MLS career-high 28 appearances, all starts, and recorded another MLS-high seven assists while helping Columbus to an appearance in the 2015 MLS Cup Finals, which he started. For his performance in 2015, Francis was named to the MLS All-Star team. In 2016, the defender made 19 appearances for the Black & Gold, recording three assists. In what was the final season with the Crew of his first stint, Francis made 12 appearances, 10 starts, while providing two assists.

In his lone season with the Sounders, Francis featured 11 times, five starts, and recorded one assist. The defender also made three starts in the 2017-2018 CONCACAF Champions League, helping the Sounders reach the quarterfinals of the tournament.

Before coming to MLS, Francis played for Brujas FC of Costa Rica’s First Division in the 2010-2011 summer season, making nine starts and recording two assists. The defender then joined Limon FC, where he played from 2011-2012 and made 18 appearances, all starts. Following his time with Limon, Francis joined Club Sport Herediano ahead of the 2012-2013 winter season, where he played 65 times from 2012-2014 and helped Herediano capture the 2014 summer championship title in Costa Rica.

At the international level, Francis has earned six caps with the Costa Rica National Team, most recently starting in a friendly contest against the U.S. Men’s National Team, and his former head coach in Berhalter, at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California last Saturday. Francis was a member of the Costa Rican squad that reached the quarterfinals of the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Valenzuela was signed on loan as a Young Designated Player from Newell’s Old Boys ahead of the 2018 season and his option was purchased on Dec. 21, 2018. In his first season with the Crew, Valenzuela featured 30 times, 29 starts, and recorded one goal and six assists.