For the first time since 2017, the Columbus Crew made two first-round selections in the MLS SuperDraft. After selecting goalkeeper Patrick Schulte out of Saint Louis University with the No. 12 overall pick earlier on Tuesday, Columbus wasn’t satisfied.
The Black & Gold traded $50,000 in General Allocation Money to Real Salt Lake for No. 25 overall selection. With that pick, the Crew chose center back Philip Quinton. The towering 6-foot-6, 206-pound defender started in 55 games for Notre Dame over the last four years. In his final two seasons, Quinton started every game for the Fighting Irish.
Last season, Quinton helped lead Notre Dame to the 2021 ACC Tournament championship. As a fifth-seed, the Fighting Irish knocked off the top team in the conference, the University of Pittsburgh, 2-0 in the semifinals before defeating Duke in the championship game.
Over Quinton’s 55 matches at Notre, he contributed on the offensive half of the field as well, scoring two goals and assisting on two.
Quinton’s addition to the Crew comes in to fill a need. Columbus currently has only two center backs on their roster in captain Jonathan Mensah and MLS veteran Josh Williams. Moving up to take the defender makes sense, especially after Columbus used the team’s natural first-round pick on a young goalkeeper to develop.
The new Black & Gold center back hails from a familiar city to head coach Caleb Porter: Portland, Oregon. While Porter left the Timbers five years ago, Quinton was in the Portland youth soccer circles at that time. The defenders didn’t play for the Portland Timbers Academy, instead playing club ball for FC Portland.
After the recent trade of Aboubacar Keita to the Colorado Rapids, Quinton has an opportunity to prove himself in the preseason and take up a position on the senior team — although both Porter and head coach Tim Bezbatchenko indicated on Tuesday that offseason additions, center back included, are not done.
A big positive for the big center back is that he sticks with the play. Against the University of Virginia in the 2020 fall season, Quinton dashed back to the goal line and made a headed save after the goalkeeper was caught outside of the 18-yard box. Not only does the tenacity of following the play to completion stand out but his leaping ability does as well. During the play, Quinton almost hit his head on the crossbar on the play, while jumping backward.
Soccer isn’t where Quinton’s athleticism ends either. The newest Crew addition won varsity letters for track and cross country. In the 800-meter event, Quinton finished second in the state as a junior. Adding a center back with speed and size in the late first round of the MLS SuperDraft could be a steal for the Black & Gold.
The last time Columbus made two selections in the first round, there was another center back involved in former Crew defender Lalas Abubakar. It’s a stark contrast from 2017 to now, looking at the Columbus backline. When Abubakar was dealt to the Rapids in 109, the Black & Gold had a plethora of center back talent. Now, a late-round MLS SuperDraft pick has the ability to make it onto the senior roster.
If the last two seasons are any indication, Quinton may see his professional debut at some point during the 2022 MLS regular season.