Columbus Crew 2 is on a roll early into the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro season. After losing in the team’s season opener 2-0 against CF Inter Miami II, Columbus’ developmental side has won four straight games, allowing one goal in four matches while scoring six of the team’s own.
On Thursday, the Black & Gold solidified the contract of a player who they hope will make that goal differential even more one-sided. The Crew announced that Academy forward Zion Scarlett’s spot on the team after signing a professional contract.
Scarlett initially joined Crew 2 on a season-long amateur loan. Through the loan, Scarlett was able to train with the team and even made a substitute appearance in Columbus’ 2-1 comeback victory against Toronto FC II two weeks ago.
With the upgrade to professional status, Scarlett is the second Crew Academy alumnae to jump into the professional ranks. He joins midfielder Aidan Wolf, who became the first player signed to Crew 2 in the new team’s history. Wolf signed with Columbus on Feb. 10, 2022, and has played 10 minutes this season, in the season opener against Miami. At 18 years old, Scarlett also joins Wolf as the youngest professional player on Crew 2.
Like Wolf, time on the field is limited for Scarlett so far this season, but he’s a player that stands out. Scarlett is a 6-foot-2 forward, giving Crew 2 an additional presence up front. So far this season, it’s been Scarlett’s striker position that’s netted Columbus the most goals. His teammate, forward Jacen Russell-Rowe, lead Crew 2 in scoring. In the last three of the Black & Gold’s matches, Russell-Rowe has started and scored three goals, one in each start, showing the position’s importance in Crew 2’s attack. Now, Scarlett competes with Russell-Rowe as a fellow professional.
Scarlett came to the Columbus Academy from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is eligible for either the United States or Jamaican national teams. Scarlett’s contract announcement is a birthday gift of sorts, as the forward turns a year older on Thursday.
Even with the season in progress, Crew 2 isn’t done building. On Tuesday, Columbus added defender Daniel Strachan. The University of Akron graduate finished his collegiate soccer career in 2021 and was undrafted in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft. Strachan joins a backline with fellow defensive rookies Philip Quinton and Jacob Erlandson.
Columbus had last week off from competition but returns to action with two away matches. Sunday, Crew 2 faces New England Revolution II at Gilette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. May 15, the Black & Gold travel to face New York City FC II at Belson Stadium. Both matches have the potential for first-team involvement, as they coincide with senior team matches against the Revolution and NYCFC.