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Former Crew winger Pedro Santos to sign with D.C. United

The Black & Gold will be looking for a new left back in 2023.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Update (Nov. 21,, 6:30 p.m. ET): D.C. United officially announced the signing of Santos

When the Columbus Crew declined a team option for versatile player Pedro Santos, the Black & Gold knew there was a good chance they would lose the veteran Portuguese player. While there was some interest in bringing Santos back if a new deal could be reached that made sense for both sides, other Major League Soccer sides were going to be interested in the 34 year old.

As it turns out, Santos doesn’t appear to be going far from Columbus. According to a report from Steven Goff of The Washington Post, Santos has agreed to a deal with the Crew’s Eastern Conference rivals D.C. United.

Santos joined the Black & Gold during the 2017 season, being brought to MLS by former Columbus head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter from Portuguese side Braga. Santos was originally a Designated Player for the Crew and cost a reported then-club record $2.3 million in a transfer fee. Santos quickly made his debut as a left winger, coming off the bench in a 1-1 draw with Orlando City SC.

After arriving in Columbus, Santos made nine appearances, eight starts, for the Crew to close out 2017, recording two assists. He also played in five MLS Cup playoff games, helping the Black & Gold reach the Eastern Conference Finals.

Santos became a regular contributor for Columbus over the next four seasons, appearing in a total of 155 games, making 147 starts and scoring 23 goals while contributing 34 assists for the club. While he was primarily a left winger, Santos showed his versatility, moving to the No. 10 spot when Federico Higuain or Lucas Zelarayan was injured. Last year, Santos transitioned to the left back spot nearly full time, playing 29 times, 28 starts, for the Crew.

The best season Santos had with the Black & Gold came in 2019. That year, the Portuguese appeared 33 times for Columbus, starting all but three games, and recorded 11 goals scored and six assists. Unfortunately, that came in a year when the Crew missed the postseason.

During his six seasons with the Black & Gold, Santos won one MLS Cup, becoming the first Portuguese player to do so, to end the 2020 season. Santos, however, missed out on the final that year due to health and safety protocols.

As an aging player, Columbus was willing to let Santos go following the 2022 season, despite his versatility and regular availability. Santos had one goal and five assists last year, starting 28 of 29 games played.

With Santos now no longer an option to return for the Crew, the club, which is still searching for its next head coach, will need to find its next left back. Will Sands appeared in 12 games, making five starts, in Santos’ absence as a rookie in 2022 and could step into a bigger role next season.