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Wilfried Nancy checks all the boxes as new Crew head coach

Nancy’s deep background in player development along with his passion for the game makes him the perfect coach to lead Columbus.

Sam Fahmi - Massive Report

The Columbus Crew officially announced Wilfried Nancy to be the club’s new head coach Tuesday morning at a press conference at Lower.com Field’s Huntington Field Club. the excitement for the Crew’s eighth all-time head coach has already filled the air.

Standing at a podium in front of fans, media and new co-workers, Nancy was introduced in his gold sweater. The former CF Montreal manager said he’s thrilled to begin his journey in Columbus.

“I’m really happy to be here. I love my job and am passionate about the game,” Nancy said.

The Black & Gold’s president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko, one of those in the crowd and a key figure in appointing the new manager, shared his excitement, saying that Nancy has a growth mindset, a deep background in player development and is knowledgeable about both the domestic and global game of soccer, which made him the Columbus’ top target to replace Caleb Porter, who was let go following the 2022 regular season.

“These attributes among others position our club to be able not only develop players but to compete at the highest level, all while entertaining fans,” Bezbatchenko said.

Nancy stood out among a number of potential coaches the Crew met with based on the values he could bring to the Black & Gold. Bezbatchenko noted when the two first began to discuss the job, that Nancy checked all the boxes and would be a great fit with the club’s structure.

“It was very clear that no one’s as passionate about the game as he is. He’s versatile and he’s humble,” Bezbatchenko said of Nancy. “He leads with compassion, and he shows vulnerability because he believes that’s how you get the most out of the players.”

The hire comes nearly two months after the Crew dismissed Porter just a day after the Major League Soccer season wrapped. Under Porter this past season, the Black & Gold finished eighth in the Eastern Conference, just two points from making the MLS Cup playoffs. This marked the second time Columbus narrowly failed to make the postseason after winning the club’s second MLS Cup title in 2020.

Immediate success is what the Columbus front office and ownership desire and Bezbatchenko thinks Nancy’s style of play and club-centric model is exactly what’s needed to achieve their goals.

“We wanted to make sure we got a quality person, a leader, someone that’s focused on learning that’s collaborative and someone innovative that thinks about the game,” Bezbatchenko said. “Most importantly as a coach, there have to be moments where you can adjust and change, and we saw that with Will not just this year, but over the years.”

This past season, Nancy was a finalist for MLS Coach of the Year as he led Montreal to a second place finish in the East with a 20-5-9 record. He’s been praised for his abilities in youth player development.

Nancy started his coaching career with the Montreal’s Academy from 2011-15 before being promoted to assistant coach and serving the role from 2017-2021.

The importance of developing younger players is something Nancy described as a passion on Tuesday morning and something that appeals to Bezbatchenko and those involved in the Crew’s decision-making process.

“For me this is my job, working every single day to get players to work and to give them a chance to make their legacy for the future. So that’s why I develop young players,” Nancy said.

While the start of the MLS season is still a couple of months away, the city of Columbus has a new man in charge, and he’s eager to get onto the pitch and show what he can do for the Black & Gold.