Columbus Crew SC added two new front office staffers to augment the team’s development pipeline. Corey Wray was hired as Tim Bezbatchenko’s Assistant General Manager and was also named the “Crew 2 General Manager.” The team also added Jaime McMillan to the front office and gave her the title of Vice President of Soccer Administration and Operations. Wray and McMillan arrive from stints with Toronto FC where they previously worked with Bezbatchenko.
Wray’s most recent role with Toronto was as the Assistant General Manager for Team Operations and Strategy over Toronto FC II under General Manager Ali Curtis. Wray’s remit with the Crew appears similar to his previous work. He joins a group that includes Technical Director Pat Onstad, Director of Scouting Neil McGuinness and Director of Player Personnel and Strategy Issa Tall. McGuinness and Tall joined in 2019.
Columbus has indicated that the team will create a reserve team in the United Soccer League, the league below Major League Soccer, but have not officially announced details of the plans. With Wray coming on board, the Black & Gold appear to be on track to start the team for the 2021 season. The creation of a reserve team will shrink the gap between the academy and the first team and provide playing time for recent academy signings. Homegrown player Aboubacar Keita managed 10 appearances as a rookie during the Crew’s injury-stricken 2019 season. This year’s Homegrown signings, Sebastian Berhalter and Aidan Morris, have one appearance each in the pandemic-limited 2020 season.
McMillan is overseeing non-technical team administration according to a release issued on Wednesday morning. This hire appears to strengthen leadership in player, staff and facilities administration for the team. With the building out of a new second team, a renewed focus on the academy and a new stadium and training facility opening in the next year, the role has a lot of responsibilities. McMillian previously managed Toronto’s academy infrastructure and was involved in the buildout of the Toronto training facility in 2012.
“We are thrilled to welcome Jaime McMillan to the Club,” Bezbatchenko said in the release. “Jaime played a critical role in the front office, simultaneously managing and executing high-level projects during her time with Toronto FC as it became a perennial MLS Cup contender, and I know she will be a great asset to the Crew as we continue to grow our ambitions and elevate the Club in this new era.”
The buildout of the Black & Gold’s front office is a shift from the previous ownership where head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter managed all facets of the technical staff. Bezbatchenko has clearly been given the green light to expand staff to match the club’s ambitions for the first team and beyond. After building out a player acquisition and reworking the operations staff, the Crew is better positioned to build a more successful pipeline from academy to the professional ranks with the addition of Wray and McMillian.