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Sources: The Crew closing in on Wilfried Nancy as next head coach

The Black & Gold have identified their top target and looking to finalize a deal.

MLS: Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinal-Cruz Azul at CF Montreal David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Crew has been without a head coach for nearly two months after parting ways with Caleb Porter the day after the 2022 Major League Soccer season concluded. The Black & Gold, however, are closing in on team’s eighth full-time head coach in club history.

Sources confirmed to Massive Report that the Black & Gold are close to appointing Wilfried Nancy as the team’s next manager. Nancy has spent the last seven seasons with CF Montreal, including the last two seasons as the head coach of the Canadian side.

After going through the multi-round interview process with the Columbus front office, including president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko, Nancy emerged as the clear frontrunner and favorite to get the Crew job. Sources tell Massive Report that Nancy was in Columbus at the OhioHealth Performance Center last week meeting with Black & Gold investor-operator Dee and Jimmy Haslam and Dr. Pete Edwards.

One source indicated to Massive Report that Nancy has already begun looking for a new home in Columbus, Ohio.

Nancy, a native of France, began his time as a coach after a 10-year playing career. He worked his way through the Montreal club, beginning with the Academy’s Under-18 team in 2011 before moving to the U-21s in 2014 and managing the U-16s in 2014 and 2015.

After having success with the Academy sides, Nancy was promoted to an assistant coach of the first team in January of 2016 under Mauro Biello. Nancy remained in that role during Rémi Garde’s tenure from 2017 to 2019 and under Wilmer Cabrera for one season in 2019 and Thierry Henry from 2020 to 2021.

Following the surprise resignation of Henry prior to the 2021 season, Nancy was named CF Montreal’s head coach at just 43 years old. In his two years in charge of Montreal, Nancy managed a 37-25-17 record in MLS play.

During the 2022 season, Nancy helped guide Montreal to a 20-9-5 record for a second-place finish in the Eastern Conference. With 65 points on the year, Nancy’s Montreal finished two points behind Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup winners LAFC and Eastern Conference winners and MLS Cup runners-up Philadelphia Union.

Nancy is set to take over a Crew team that missed the MLS Cup playoffs each of the last two seasons, but came within two points each year. Two seasons ago, the Black & Gold had the team’s worst stretch of play in the summer following a number of injuries and even a strong end to the year couldn’t overcome the points hole. Last season, Columbus had issues with closing out games, dropping a number of points from winning positions.

However, in 2020, the Crew won the club’s second MLS Cup, defeating the Seattle Sounders 3-0 in the Final. The Black & Gold retain the core group of players from that championship team, including goalkeeper Eloy Room, center back Jonathan Mensah, midfielder Darlington Nagbe and playmaker Lucas Zelarayan. Columbus added Designated Player striker Cucho Hernandez last summer. The team’s record signing scored nine goals in 16 games.

This offseason, the Crew made a number of offseason decisions with an eye on leaving flexibility for the club’s next manager. Once he is officially named head coach, the Black & Gold can begin to build up around the already-assembled talent in Nancy’s image.