The Columbus Crew started off the new year making moves. On Wednesday, Massive Report confirmed the upcoming signing of Ghanaian winger Yaw Yeboah. Following that news, Columbus announced a defensive departure. The Crew traded 21-year-old center back Aboubacar Keita to the Colorado Rapids. In return, the Black & Gold receives $450,000 in allocation money.
Columbus’ allocation money is broken down into two parts. The Crew receives a guaranteed $300,000 in General Allocation Money. The remaining $150,000 of General Allocation Money is based on performance incentives.
Keita joined the Black & Gold as a Homegrown Player signing on Jan. 22, 2019, after spending three years in the Crew’s academy system. After becoming the Columbus’ 12th Homegrown Player in team history, Keita appeared 37 times in three Major League Soccer regular season matches.
Throughout his time in Columbus, Keita found the field through injuries in the center back position. During the 2020 MLS Cup Final run, Keita filled in for former Crew center back Vito Wormgoor after an ankle injury in the 2020 MLS is Back Tournament. Keita found himself rotating with Josh Williams until the MLS Cup playoffs when Keita didn’t make an appearance.
In 2021, Keita filled in the same role. The young center back started 10 regular season matches, two CONCACAF Champions League matches and the Campeones Cup victory over Cruz Azul.
On the field, Keita showed youthful energy and didn’t shy away from a tackle. Unfortunately, that also led to youthful mistakes. On top of that, Keita’s distribution offensively didn’t match his peers to the point of earning himself a permanent starting position. Instead, the Crew opted for Williams’ partnership with Columbus’ captain Jonathan Mensah.
Keita joins a Colorado Rapids team that ended 2021 in first place in the Western Conference. The former Crew center back will still have to fight for a position. Colorado features a young duo of center backs in 23-year-old Auston Trusty and a name that Crew supporters will notice in Lalas Abubakar.
Wednesday’s trade is the second time in recent history that Columbus has traded a young center back out west. In 2019, Columbus loaned Abubakar to Colorado, followed by a complete trade in 2020 after the center back had a standout season with the Rapids.
With Keita’s departure, there are only two center backs on the Crew’s roster, with plenty of time remaining in the 2022 MLS offseason. Only Mensah and Williams remain, which is a story that’s repeated itself on the field over the past three seasons.
Before joining the Crew, Keita was a standout at the University of Virginia. Keita made a name for himself in the United States youth system, culminating in 2019. Just two months after signing with the Crew, Keita represented the United States in their quarterfinal run of the 2019 U20 World Cup. In five matches, Keita played all but four minutes.
Columbus supporters may have their chance to see Keita and Abubakar later in the 2022 season. The Black & Gold travel to DSG Park, in Colorado, to face the Rapids on August 13, 2022.