On Monday, Dec. 6, Major League Soccer made a long-awaited announcement regarding the formation of MLS Next Pro, the new reserve league to fill the void between academies and the senior team. Part of that announcement was the unveiling of Crew 2, Columbus Crew’s MLS Next Pro side.
Since that announcement, the Columbus supporters have waited for more information on Crew 2. Massive Report spoke with Crew 2 General Manager, Corey Wray, and there’s a lot to come.
Wray and the Crew 2 staff have been working towards the March season’s kickoff since long before the team announcement became official. In that time of preparation, the front office had to build out a coaching and support staff, a team roster and a 2022 schedule.
So far, all the teams in the league have different blueprints for success. Columbus is working on creating a strong foundation.
“For us, the most important thing we’re trying to create in the first year is a really good club environment,” said Wray. “Training, competition for places, guys who have some experience as a professional, we’re looking to create that first.”
The end of the wait for a roster, staff and schedule announcements are nearly here as it’s almost time for this new reserve team to report for preseason. Starting Monday, Jan. 31, Crew 2’s training camp begins at the OhioHealth Performance Center.
To have preseason ready, there must be a staff working behind the scenes. Crew 2’s staff is almost complete. Supporters can expect staff announcements next week, but what about the players?
Currently, Crew 2 has 10 players under contract. While the club is waiting to announce these signings, the heavy lifting is complete. Rounding out the rest of the roster will potentially be players from the MLS SuperDraft, players released by other MLS clubs and members of the Crew Academy, which is the most exciting piece for Wray. Initial player announcements will start going public after the staff is made official.
Part of competing is not showing all your cards. Although names of staff and players are staying quiet until next week, Wray and his Crew 2 have a feeling of expectation heading into February.
“If people can hold on for a little longer, I think they’ll be pretty pumped up for what’s to come,” said Wray. “I’m pretty excited about the team itself and some of the talent we have lined up.”
In terms of training, Crew 2’s practices will offset the senior team. There’s only so much room in the OhioHealth Performance Facility and there’s still growing pains in having multiple teams — the Academy also uses the space — occupying one facility. For the schedule, a rough calendar is complete but is still waiting final approval from MLS. This will be finalized in the coming weeks. The tireless work of putting a team together is almost over.
“I feel pretty good going into next week, where we’re at with the start of preseason,” said Wray. “I can sleep pretty well at night now.”