The Columbus Crew officially announced Wednesday afternoon the re-signing of veteran defender Waylon Francis, after the left back spoke about signing with the club for another year last week. The 30 year old will suit up in the black and gold for a seventh season after hoisting the MLS Cup trophy last December.
“We are pleased to re-sign Waylon for the 2021 campaign,” Crew president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Waylon is a veteran in this league and is someone who has spent a lot of time in Columbus with a thorough understanding of our Club culture. We look forward to his contributions to our team as we look to continue to contend for trophies in multiple competitions.”
Francis has made 115 regular season appearances in MLS with just 11 of those coming in 2018 as a member of the Seattle Sounders. The other 104 have all been with the Black & Gold since he signed with the team initially in 2014. Last season, Francis appeared in the final four regular season games of the year with the Crew, including starts in the last two road matches against D.C. United and Orlando City. He was subbed on in the second half of the final two regular season home games facing the Philadelphia Union and Atlanta United.
His final appearance of the season was for the final minute of the 2020 MLS Cup Final against the Sounders when head coach Caleb Porter subbed him in just seconds before Columbus officially defeated Seattle 3-0 to win MLS Cup. Along with Harrison Afful, Francis is the only other player on the Crew’s current roster that was part of the 2015 squad that lost to Portland in the 2015 MLS Cup Final at Columbus Crew Stadium.
That 2015 season was the most successful for Francis, having been named an MLS All-Star and playing against Tottenham Hotspur in Denver, Colorado. He was also named the Black & Gold’s defender of the year en route to his first of two Eastern Conference titles. In total, Francis has started 107 games for the Crew and is credited with 19 assists.
With the CONCACAF Champions League on the horizon in 2021, the Black & Gold retained Francis and keep one of the few players on the squad with experience in that competition. Francis started three matches for the Sounders in the 2017-18 edition of the Champions League, helping Seattle to the quarterfinals.
Outside of his MLS experience, Francis has also been a featured member of the Costa Rican men’s national team. He has earned seven caps for Los Ticos and was included in the 2014 FIFA World Cup roster in Brazil.
The 2021 Crew roster now features 24 players with the re-signing of Francis, the club’s ninth defender on the current roster. The MLS offseason is set to continue throughout the month of January with the upcoming MLS SuperDraft taking place on Jan. 21. No dates have been announced for the 2021 season openers or the 2021 Champions League start.
The Crew’s current 2021 roster:
Goalkeepers (4): Evan Bush, Jon Kempin, Matt Lampson, Eloy Room
Defenders (9): Harrison Afful, Chris Cadden, Waylon Francis, Aboubacar Keita, Grant Lillard, Jonathan Mensah, Milton Valenzuela, Josh Williams, Vito Wormgoor
Midfielders (8): Artur, Sebastian Berhalter, Luis Diaz, Derrick Etienne Jr., Aidan Morris, Darlington Nagbe, Pedro Santos, Lucas Zelarayan
Forwards (3): Miguel Berry, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Gyasi Zardes