Columbus Crew SC officially announced on Wednesday the transfer of Gaston Sauro from the club to Liga MX Side Deportivo Toluca FC. The news of Sauro leaving the Black & Gold was originally reported by Massive Report on Monday.
“We would like to thank Gaston for his professionalism and commitment to Columbus Crew SC during his time with the Club,” Crew president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in the press release announcing Sauro’s departure. “Gaston was an inspiration to his teammates with his perseverance in overcoming an injury to play soccer again. We want to wish him all the best in this next stage of his career.”
Sauro signed with the Crew from Switzerland’s FC Basel in August of 2015. In his first year with the club, the center back made just four regular season appearances, all starts, as he got acclimated to life in Columbus. Sauro also played in all four of the Black & Gold’s postseason games, starting all four in helping the Crew win the Eastern Conference and make the 2015 MLS Cup final.
The 2016 season was one Sauro will not remember fondly. Despite making 13 appearances that year, the defender suffered a knee injury that lingered and never healed properly. The knee eventually required an experimental surgery to repair a torn PCL and damaged cartilage. The defender missed the remainder of the year and the entirety of the 2017 season.
Sauro remained with the club throughout his injury and returned for the Crew in late May of 2018. In slowly working back to full soccer fitness — after being told there was only a 50 percent chance he would ever play again — Sauro made seven regular season appearances for Columbus that year and two starts in the MLS Cup playoffs.
This season marked a return to regular playing time for Sauro. He started and scored in the Black & Gold’s 1-1 home draw against the New York Red Bulls to open the year and found the back of the net two weeks later to give him two goals in the opening three games of 2019. In total, Sauro made 15 appearances, all starts, for the Crew in 2019 before a quadriceps injury cut his final game against Orlando City SC in mid-July short.
Sauro has since been recovering from the injury but has not played for Columbus.
The Black & Gold now have four rostered center backs — Jonathan Mensah, Josh Williams, Alex Crognale and Aboubacar Keita — for the remainder of 2019. Lalas Abubakar is also a member of the team but is on a season-long loan to fellow MLS side, the Colorado Rapids.
With Sauro out of contract at the end of the 2019 season, creating the possibility of him leaving on a free transfer, the decision to move the center back now and get a transfer fee in return is good business by the Crew.