Columbus Crew 2 had a historic first season. Led by head coach Laurent Courtois, Crew 2 won the MLS NEXT Pro Cup in 2022 after finishing with the best record in the league in the first year of its existence. Now it’s on to year two.
On Monday, the Black & Gold made the first moves of the offseason when announcing the team’s end-of-season roster moves. Columbus exercised the options on six players, while five players were already under contract for the 2023 season, taking the roster total to 11 players.
Crew 2 announced the team exercised the options of defenders Jacob Erlandson, Justin Malou and Abdirizak Mohamed, midfielders Coleman Gannon and Marco Micaletto and forward Noah Fuson. Defender Ariel Mbumba, midfielders Stephen Tuffour and Aidan Wolf, and forwards Jordan Knight and Zion Scarlett also will return in 2023, as they were under contract.
The Black & Gold declined the team options of defenders Philip Quinton, Daniel Strachan, Ryan Telfer and Tristan Weber and midfielders Isaac Angking, Jay Tee Kamara and Michael Vang. The club announced it remains in discussions with Quinton, who was the No. 25 overall pick in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft, about a potential return in 2023.
Defender Mohamed Faris and forward Jacen Russell-Rowe were two players who performed well enough for Crew 2 last year to earn first-team contracts. Both players remain a part of the organization and it will be up to new first-team head coach Wilfried Nancy to determine how much time they spend at the MLS NEXT Pro level in 2023.
“We are proud of Crew 2’s accomplishments this season, from capturing the first-ever MLS NEXT Pro Cup, having two players sign first-team contracts and seeing players thrive as they received consistent, meaningful minutes in a professional, competitive environment,” Crew 2 general manager Corey Wray said in a statement announcing the roster decisions. “As we turn our attention towards the 2023 season, we are looking forward to building off of this year’s successes and working hand-in-hand with Wilfried Nancy to continue to develop players and be the link along the player pathway between the Academy and the first team.
“Year-end roster decisions are always difficult. I would like to thank the departing players for their contributions to making 2022 a memorable season for Crew 2 and wish them all the best as they take the next steps in their respective career journeys.”
The 2023 schedule for both MLS and MLS NEXT Pro is expected to be released in the coming month. Both the Crew and Crew 2 will continue to build the teams’ roster up until the start of the season, hoping to compete for championships in 2023.
Columbus Crew 2’s 2022 roster:
Defenders (4): Jacob Erlandson, Justin Malou, Ariel Mbumba, Abdirizak Mohamed
Midfielders (4): Coleman Gannon, Marco Micaletto, Stephen “Nana” Tuffour, Aidan Wolf
Forwards (3): Noah Fuson, Jordan Knight, Zion Scarlett