Columbus Crew SC center back Jonathan Mensah was named to the 29-man provisional roster for Ghana’s Africa Cup of Nations. The defender becomes the latest Crew player to be called up to his national team after five other Black & Gold players were named to the provisional Gold Cup rosters earlier this week.
Jonathan joined the Crew from Russian Premier League side Anzhi Makhachkala in January of 2017. At the time, he was the club’s fifth Designated Player. Jonathan struggled to adjust to Major League Soccer during his first season in Columbus. The center back started 25 of the 26 games he played that year, but frequent mistakes that led to goals for the opponent had fans questioning the move. Jonathan turned things around toward the end of the year, helping the Crew make a run to the Eastern Conference Finals before losing to Toronto FC.
After the strong ending to his debut season, Jonathan rode the momentum in 2018. He appeared 27 times for the Black & Gold in his second year. With the Designated Player tag no longer attached to him, Jonathan helped make Columbus’ defense one of the best in the league in 2018. Once again, the Crew made the playoffs, this time losing to the New York Red Bulls in the East semifinals.
Internationally, Jonathan has been a fixture for Ghana since his debut for the Black Stars in May of 2009. Since then, Jonathan has appeared 61 times for his country, scoring one goal. He was a part of Ghana’s team in both the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups and a part of the squads that reached five consecutive semifinals at the Africa Cup of Nations.
The full 29-man Ghanian roster will depart for a pre-tournament camp for the Africa Cup of Nations on June 1. The roster will then be cut down to the 23 players that will take part in the tournament. The Africa Cup of Nations begins on June 21 with group play running until July 2 and a final match on July 19.
On Monday, CONCACAF announced the initial 40-man Gold Cup rosters for each of the participating countries. Columbus midfielder Wil Trapp, goalkeeper Zack Steffen and forward Gyasi Zardes were each named to the United States Men’s National Team roster and midfielder David Guzman and fullback Waylon Francis were listed with Costa Rica’s provisional group.
It is possible that the Crew could still be without all six players when the team returns from the international break on June 23 against Sporting Kansas City.