JJ Williams, Columbus Crew SC’s 2019 MLS SuperDraft selection out of Kentucky has been waived per a statement released by the club on Thursday. Williams was a Generation Adidas signing and was selected as the 18th overall pick in the 2019 SuperDraft. His selection was one of the first moves made by the Crew’s new leadership of President and General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko and head coach Caleb Porter, after they were hired into to those roles.
“As we assessed our roster throughout this pre-season, given our depth at the forward position, we believed it would be difficult for JJ to find important and regular First Team minutes at the MLS level, which are critical for his development,” said Bezbatchenko in the relesase. “We want to thank JJ for his contributions to the Club during the 2019 season and wish him well.”
Williams made seven appearances during his rookie season, including three starts, for Columbus, mostly because of the absence of starting forward Gyasi Zardes due to international duty. Unfortunately, Williams was unable to take advantage of these opportunities and failed to score in the time he spent on the field. His chances were further limited with the mid-season acquisitions of Romario Williams from Atlanta United and Jordan Hamilton from Toronto FC. In an attempt to get game time, Williams also spent part of the season on loan with the Birmingham Legion of the USL Championship. While on loan with the Legion, Williams made 21 appearances and scored seven times for the club.
It seemed as though this decision may have been coming down the line, as Williams had not been with the team during the recent preseason sessions and has not appeared in either match in the 2020 Visit Tuscon Sun Cup. Moving forward the Crew will have Zardes, Fanendo Adi, and Hamilton as options up top. The team’s 2020 first-round SuperDraft pick, Miguel Berry, remains with the team but does not have a contract as of this writing. Given the fact that the Crew generally play with a one-striker system, there did not seem to be any real opportunities for Williams to get meaningful minutes if Hamilton and Berry had passed his by on the depth chart.
Moving forward it is entirely possible Williams may latch on with another USL Championship side, but given the depth at striker, the addition of Adi, and the system that Porter uses, one could hardly disagree with Bezbatchenko’s thoughts.