It’s been just five years since the Columbus Crew last appeared in the MLS Cup Final and, like with any other team in the league, the Black & Gold has significantly changed its roster since that 2-1 setback to the Portland Timbers at MAPFRE Stadium on Dec. 6, 2015.
Only four players from that squad are part of the roster that will face the Seattle Sounders on Saturday and only two of them have never left Columbus in fullbacks Harrison Afful and Hector Jimenez – goalkeeper Matt Lampson and left back Waylon Francis have departed and returned since then.
But where are the other players who helped to build that unforgettable Black & Gold campaign these days?
You probably know that club legend Federico Higuain and longtime Crew captain Wil Trapp were reunited in Inter Miami this season, right? But what about Tony Tchani, a starter and key piece in Gregg Berhalter’s system? Or super sub Cedrick Mabwati? Did you remember Kristinn Steindorsson played a significant role in that season?
Ahead of the upcoming MLS Cup in Ohio, Massive Report took some time to track the whereabouts of the players of the team’s 2015 roster and here’s what we found:
MLS Cup starters
To many, the Crew goalkeeper was the villain of that match due to his early mistake that resulted in Portland’s first goal. He remained in Columbus for the next season but transferred to Denmark’s AC Horsens in 2017. Six months later, he was already back in MLS with D.C. United, where he remained until August 2018, when he was traded to the Timbers, his current club.
The right back is the only Crew player to continue with the club and keep his starting status since the 2015 MLS Cup Final. Since that game, the Ghanaian has played in 140 matches for the Black & Gold, scoring seven goals and registering 15 assists.
The center back was the Crew’s captain that season. Parkhurst played in all of the team’s 34 matches in 2016 but was traded to then-expansion franchise Atlanta United ahead of the 2017 season. He captained the Five Stripes to an MLS Cup victory in 2018 and retired at the end of 2019 at the age of 35.
The Argentinean was one of the Crew’s last additions before the 2015 MLS Cup Final, which was just his eighth match with the club. He sustained a serious knee injury during the 2016 season which sidelined him until 2018. After he returned, he played in only 24 matches for the Black & Gold before he transferred to Mexico’s Toluca in August 2019.
The Costa Rican was a key player for that Crew team after having represented his country at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Francis had a career-high eight assists in 2015 and remained in Columbus until the end of 2017 when he was traded to Saturday’s opponent, the Sounders. At the beginning of 2019, he was brought back due to an injury sustained by Milton Valenzuela.
The midfielder who captained the Crew between 2017 and 2019 was only 22 when he appeared in the 2015 MLS Cup Final. He featured in more than 120 MLS matches for the Black & Gold after that one and remained with the club until the end of 2019 when he was traded to expansion team Inter Miami. He’s currently out of contract after the conclusion of the 2020 season.
The physical midfielder was a key piece in Berhalter’s system in 2015 but never performed at the same level after that season. Tchani was a Crew player until the start of 2017 when he was involved in a trade with the Vancouver Whitecaps that brought Kekuta Manneh to Columbus. One year later, Tchani was moved to the Chicago Fire before being released in August 2018. He spent the 2019 season with Canadian Premier League side FC Edmonton and has been without a club since the end of that campaign.
The pacey winger was one of the Crew’s most productive players in that year, scoring 13 goals and generating 13 assists. He was selected for the MLS’s Best XI that season. After five and a half seasons in Columbus, he was traded to Minnesota United during the 2017 season and has tallied 16 goals and nine assists in 69 matches for the Western Conference finalists since then.
Pipa was arguably the team’s most influential player heading into the 2015 season and he didn’t disappoint, registering nine goals and 11 assists in that campaign. A club legend, he waved farewell to Columbus at the end of the 2019 season with 193 regular season matches, 55 goals and 63 assists to his name. He started 2020 as an assistant coach/player dual role with D.C. United, but was traded to Inter Miami midway through the season to reunite with his younger brother Gonzalo, but is currently out of contract.
The Iraqi winger was a starter for the Black & Gold in the 2015 campaign and scored an important goal in the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Red Bulls. He requested a trade after the 2017 season, his best with the club, and was sent to Orlando City SC only to return to Ohio six months later. He left the club again during the 2019 season to join Atlanta United and played for the Real Salt Lake this year.
The physical striker was in great form in the 2015 campaign, scoring 26 goals (including one in the MLS Cup Final) on his way to being part of the MLS’s Best XI and a finalist for the league’s MVP award. His second stint with the Crew ended nine matches later, during the 2016 season, after he had a heated argument with Higuain over a penalty kick. Since then, he has played for the New England Revolution, the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Colorado Rapids and Minnesota United, his current club.
MLS Cup substitutes
The team’s backup goalkeeper didn’t see the field in that campaign, the second of four seasons he spent with the Crew after being drafted by the club. He was traded to New York City FC ahead of the 2018 season and has played seven matches in three seasons for the club after seeing his contract expire a week ago.
The Crew was the last club of Wahl’s career as he announced his retirement at the end of the 2016 season, his fourth with the team. The left-footed center back appeared in 19 matches in the 2015 campaign. He remains involved with MLS and was hired as Austin FC’s academy general manager in January 2019.
The fullback played for Columbus only that season, but was somewhat of an important role player, appearing in 16 matches during the year. He was traded to the Timbers shortly after the 2015 MLS Cup and appeared in only eight matches for them the following season before ending his MLS career. Since 2017, he’s been with the California United Strikers, which is part of the NPSL Founders Cup.
The Crew’s utility man still has the exact same role for the team as Jimenez, who was traded to the club in 2014, was used in 23 matches of that campaign, 11 of which coming off the bench. His resume includes 140 matches in a black and gold uniform to date and, at the age of 32, he’s still an important locker room presence for the squad.
The Swedish midfielder was in his first season with the Crew and proved his value by playing in 27 matches that year, including the MLS Cup Final. He remained in Columbus for another season before splitting 2017 split between Minnesota United and the Colorado Rapids. He returned to Europe in 2018 to join Denmark’s Lyngby FC and later in that same year moved back home to play for Sirius at the Swedish League, where he remains to these days at the age of 29.
The electric Congolese winger was added to the Crew roster during the season, coming from Spain’s Betis and quickly turned into a super-sub, most noted because of his assist to Kamara’s extra time game-winning goal in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Montreal Impact. He remained in Columbus for the 2016 season, totaling 30 matches for the club, but returned to Spain in 2017 and has since then appeared for third-division teams UCAM Murcia, Inter de Madrid and CD Tudelano. Aged 28, he has been a free agent since July.
The striker was another player to come off the bench in an attempt to score goals for the Crew in theMLS Cup Final. At only 23 at the time, he already had seven years of MLS experience when he arrived in Columbus and had a quick, but prolific stint with the club, scoring twice in the seven matches (two starts) he appeared. He was traded to the Timbers shortly after MLS Cup and joined the LA Galaxy ahead of the 2017 season, his last in MLS. He spent 2018 with Indy Eleven and since 2019 plays for the Oakland Roots, both at the USL Championship.
The team’s third goalkeeper was in the fourth and final season of his first stint with the club but didn’t get to play that campaign. He moved on to the Chicago Fire in 2016 and had the best moments of his careers there before signing with Minnesota United ahead of the 2018 season. He spent 2019 with the LA Galaxy and returned to Columbus for the current campaign.
The right back played in 10 matches and started four in that campaign, most of them in the period between Hernan Grana’s departure and Afful’s arrival. His entire MLS career was spent in Columbus and consisted of 50 matches between 2013 and 2016. He played for one year in Sweden in 2017 with FC Linkoping City before retiring and is currently a director of operations for Ohio State’s men’s soccer team.
The center back arrived in Columbus in 2014 backed by a playing career that featured 60 matches with the Austrian national team and stints in England with Middlesbrough and West Ham and in Germany with Bayern Leverkusen. He was expected to replace Giancarlo Gonzalez, but bounced in and out of the starting lineup, appearing in 19 matches in 2015, his last year in MLS. After the MLS Cup Final, he returned to Europe and spent a season in Germany with Union Berlin before moving back to Austria, where he’s been playing since 2017 – the first two years with LASK Linz and since 2020 with Juniors OO. Pogatetz is currently 37.
The Trinidad & Tobago native featured in eight matches during the Crew’s 2015 campaign, which ended up being his last in MLS. The midfielder, who’s now 30, continued his career in the American lower leagues, playing for NASL’s Jacksonville Armanda between 2016 and 2018, when he joined his current club, USL’s Charlotte Independence.
The Iceland winger was one of the several Nordic players brought to Columbus during Berhalter’s tenure. He was mostly an off-the-bench piece for the team, appearing in 21 matches, but starting only four of those. After his brief stint in Ohio, Steindorsson returned to Sweden, where he played before, to join GIF Sundsvall. In 2018, he moved back to Iceland to play for FH and at the beginning of the year, he was transferred to Breidablik.
The towering striker nicknamed ‘The Big Celery’ played in Columbus between 2012 and 2015, scoring five goals in 52 matches, 17 of which were in the 2015 season. After that year, he went to have a prolific career in Israel, splitting the next four years between Maccabi Netanya, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv. He returned to MLS in the 2020 season to join Minnesota United and scored once in 14 matches with the club.