The Columbus Crew has found the team’s eighth full-time head coach in its 27-year history. After it was reported by Massive Report late last month, the Crew officially announced Tuesday morning that former CF Montreal head coach Wilfred Nancy as the next manager of the club.
Crew President & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko announced after Nancy went through a multi-round interview process with the Columbus front office, and emerged as the front runner.
The hire comes nearly two months after the Black & Gold dismissed Caleb Porter just a day after the Major League Soccer season wrapped. Porter spent four seasons with the club, leading Columbus to its second MLS Cup title in 2020, and the Campeones Cup in 2021. It was the Crew’s first MLS Cup since the team’s first one in 2008. But Porter’s team missed the MLS Cup playoffs each of the last two seasons.
Now it’s Nancy’s opportunity to get the Black & Gold back in the postseason.
The news doesn’t come as too much of a shock. Nancy’s name was quickly connected with the Columbus opening after two successful seasons in Montreal. Sources told Massive Report that Nancy was in Columbus at the OhioHealth Performance Center a couple of weeks ago meeting with Crew investor-operator Dee and Jimmy Haslam and Dr. Pete Edwards and looking for a new home
Nancy will be the team’s first Black head coach in club history and the first non-American manager since Robert Warzycha in 2013. He will look to return the Black & Gold to postseason success.
Achieving success, however, will be nothing new for Nancy. Starting his coaching career with Montreal’s Academy from 2011-15, Nancy was promoted to assistant coach and served the role from 2017-21. Following the resignation of Thierry Henry from CF Montreal before the 2021 season, Nancy was named head coach. This past season, Nancy was a finalist for MLS Coach of the Year as he led the team to a second place in the East with a 20-5-9 record.
Despite finishing strong in the regular season, reports stemming from last November between Nancy and Montreal owner Joey Saputo are likely a contributing factor to Nancy’s departure. Members of the club didn’t think he would remain following the season.
Nancy is still under contract with Montreal for another season, meaning the Crew will have to compensate Montreal as part of the appointment.
One of the biggest things to turn around immediately will be the offensive output for the Black & Gold. To end the season, Columbus finished close to the bottom in accurate shooting percentage, finishing at 32.2 percent. The ability to turn around the offensive performances will be a big key going into 2023.
With Nancy in charge, Columbus will look to get back to winning ways while going in a new direction. With many of the Crew’s core players returning from the team’s 2020 MLS Cup championship, along with their target man up front Cucho Hernandez, Nancy will have all the tools he needs to build something special in Columbus.