It’s that time of year again, Columbus Crew SC fans. Preseason is in full swing which means the Black & Gold’s roster is really starting to take shape. While we’ve seen a number of players come and go — as recently as Wil Trapp heading to Inter Miami last week — Columbus has a roster that many believe will challenge for contention in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference.
Now we have a better idea of what that roster will look like.
On Tuesday, the Crew finally published a preseason roster, featuring the players that remain with the team after the halfway point of the preseason. Of note, only one of the Black & Gold’s MLS SuperDraft picks remains, first-round pick Miguel Berry. The forward, though, is still unsigned.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the preseason roster release is learning what numbers new players will wear and which players have changed their numbers in the offseason.
Fullback Chris Cadden, who was signed last summer but loaned out right away, officially takes the No. 2 shirt for Columbus. It’s a natural for the Scottish international to take a “proper right back’s” number. The number, last worn by winger Luis Argudo, is strongly identified with club legend Frankie Hejduk, who wore the number during his time with the team from 2003 through 2010, including captaining the 2008 side to the MLS Cup.
Fellow newcomer Vito Wormgoor took the No. 5 shirt. The imposing center back selected a number with a tie to other physical defenders such as Giancarlo Gonzalez and Emanuel Pogatetz who both sported the number. But the longest holder was the tenacious Danny O’Rourke who played defensive midfield and center back with a hard-as-nails toughness that Wormgoor is expected to bring to the backline.
The former No. 5, Jordan Hamilton switched to 17 for the 2020, formerly worn by the departed Romario Williams. Hamilton and Williams were both midseason acquisitions in 2019, but only Hamilton was brought back to the club this year.
Trapp’s No. 6 shirt has already been claimed and it’s no surprise where it went. Darlington Nagbe, who wore the number with the Portland Timbers and Atlanta United, takes over the number for Trapp just as he will the central midfield role.
Fellow newcomer Fanendo Adi selected the No. 9. Traditionally a striker’s number, 9 was most recently worn by midfielder David Guzman and winger Justin Meram. The last true striker to wear the shirt for the Crew was Jason Garey during the 2010 season.
Lucas Zelarayan takes the No. 10 mantel from Federico Higuain, who wore the number from 2014 through his departure this past offseason. Playing the creative midfield role, the number suits what Zelarayan will be asked to do for the Black & Gold as the club’s record signing.
Midseason acquisition Luis Diaz has changed numbers from 18 to 12 after the departure of goalkeeper Ben Lundgaard. It’s not the first time a Crew right winger wore the No. 12, as Eddie Gaven wore it during his time with the club from 2006 to 2013.
The recently reacquired Matt Lampson took the unused No. 28 that he’s worn throughout his career, including his first stop in Columbus. As a backup goalkeeper, numbers are usually not the biggest concern. Likewise, defender Axel Sjoberg took No. 44, the number he wore with the Colorado Rapids. It’s a squad number that’s never been assigned to a Crew player before.
The team’s most recent signing, Derrick Etienne Jr. will be in No. 22, which had been free since the transfer of Gaston Sauro in August.
Rookie midfielder Sebastian Berhalter selected the No. 18 shirt formerly worn by Diaz. Fellow rookie Aidan Morris will be No. 21 recently worn by departed Homegrown Alex Crognale and more famously by midfielder Kyle Martino for his first few years with the club. Berry has not yet been given a number.
You can view the full preseason roster here.
The release of the preseason roster is another sign that the regular season is just around the corner. The Crew kick off 2020 at home against New York City FC on March 1 at 12:30 p.m. ET.