The Columbus Crew is set to sign attacking winger Kevin Molino. This signing was first reported by Jeff Rueter and Sam Stejskal of The Athletic and confirmed to Massive Report by league sources. This will be a multi-year free agent deal and Columbus is expected to officially announce the signing by the end of the week.
Molino, a 30-year old Trinidadian, is fresh off a productive season for Minnesota United in which he scored nine goals in 18 games. He also scored four goals in the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs for the Loons on the team’s run to the Western Conference Final where they fell 3-2 to the Seattle Sounders.
The veteran MLS attacker announced on Instagram on Dec. 16 that he would not rejoining Minnesota and become a free agent. MNUFC head coach Adrian Heath told reporters that the club offered Molino “the max deal he can get in America.” Molino instead chose to sign with the MLS Cup champions in a deal with the Crew that will be similar and is the maximum allowed in free agency.
Molino spent the last four seasons with United, making 67 regular season appearances, including 58 starts. Before his 13 total goals in 2020, Molino had scored only five goals in 2019 and 2018 combined after he played 30 games and scored seven times in 2017. Molino has 32 MLS regular season goals in total since 2015.
In his career, Molino has played at all three attacking midfield positions but often found himself on the left side of midfield in 2020. He will join a Crew attacking midfield led by the playmaker Lucas Zelarayan and wingers Pedro Santos, Luis Diaz and Derrick Etienne Jr.
This move does come with some risk. Molino twice suffered ACL injuries that interrupted his career. He was limited to seven games in 2015 after tearing his right ACL while with Orlando. He bounced back in 2016 to play 30 games and score 11 goals. Molino then tore his left ACL in 2018, limiting him to two appearances. He returned again in 2019, making 17 appearances.
On the international level, Molino has been a staple on the Trinidad & Tobago National Team for the past decade. He scored 21 goals in 50 caps for T&T which puts him in the top 10 of all scorers in Soca Warriors soccer history. Molino has played in multiple Caribbean Cups, CONCACAF Gold Cups and FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Molino becomes the second MLS veteran this offseason to choose Columbus. In late December, the Crew announced the signing of 35-year-old Bradley Wright-Phillips, who played with LAFC last season after seven seasons with the New York Red Bulls. Both players help strengthen the attack of the MLS Cup champions that heavily relied on Gyasi Zardes, Lucas Zelarayan and Pedro Santos a year ago.
Once this signing is complete, the Crew’s roster will stand at 25 players. Molino obtained a Green Card in 2015 and does not take up an MLS international roster slot. The defending MLS Cup champions will be busy in 2021 as the Black & Gold are scheduled to play in four competitions: the MLS regular season, the CONCACAF Champions League, U.S. Open Cup, and the Campeones Cup game.