Columbus Crew SC has been busy this offseason. The Black & Gold are looking to continue to remake the roster after underachieving last season and missing the 2019 MLS Cup playoffs.
On Friday, the Crew continued its roster makeover when the team claimed former Portland Timbers and FC Cincinnati forward Fanendo Adi off waivers. This was first reported by The Athletic’s Sam Stejskal and confirmed by Massive Report. The club did not return request for comment.
In addition, the Crew has winger Derrick Etienne, formerly of the New York Red Bulls and Cincinnati, on trail in preseason camp. The Black & Gold are currently in Chula Vista, California and played its a closed-door scrimmage on Friday. Etienne was one of the goal scorers for Columbus as the Crew defeated USL 2 side Ventura County Fusion 5-1. The Crew’s other goal scorers in the scrimmage were winger Pedro Santos from the penalty spot, forward JJ Williams and draft picks Miguel Berry and Danny Griffin.
While Adi was claimed off waivers, the forward has not been added to the Black & Gold’s roster. Adi’s salary last year, according to the MLS players’ union, was close to $2 million. Columbus will not pay that full amount if Adi is officially added to the roster and Cincinnati will pay the difference.
In six MLS seasons, Adi has played in 138 games, scoring 55 goals and registering 14 assists. Adi came to MLS and played under now Crew head coach Caleb Porter from 2014-17. Over that time, Adi scores 51 goals in 112 games. The forward was traded from Portland to Cincinnati in July of 2018, the year before the USL side moved to MLS. Last season, Adi played just 12 games, making seven starts, for FC Cincy, scoring just one goal and adding no assists.
Etienne has spent four seasons in MLS, appearing 65 times and scoring six goals and registering four assists. In August of last year, Etienne was loaned to Cincinnati for the remainder of the season. He appeared five times, making two stars for the Crew’s Ohio rival, recording no goals or assists. According to The Athletic’s Laurel Pfahler, Cincinnati had the opportunity to buy Etienne at the end of the loan but declined. The player returned to the Red Bulls but did not have his option picked up.
The Crew have three forwards on the team’s current roster in entrenched starter Gyasi Zardes and backups in Williams and Jordan Hamilton. If added to the roster, Adi would provide more depth at the position, competing for the backup spot with Williams and Hamilton.
Columbus has three true wingers on the current roster in Santos, Luis Diaz and Youness Mokhtar. Etienne would likely make the rotation and provide depth if he makes the team following his preseason trail.
The Black & Gold next face the Vancouver Whitecaps on Tuesday, Jan. 28 in another closed-door scrimmage in Chula Vista.