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Official: Crew trade Jonathan Mensah to San Jose Earthquakes

The Black & Gold make a major move ahead of the 2023 campaign.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Columbus Crew changes continue to come. Sources close to the team, that were promised anonymity in order to speak freely, confirmed that the Crew has traded captain Jonathan Mensah to the San Jose Earthquakes. That has since been confirmed by the club.

In return for Mensah, the Black & Gold will receive a guaranteed $100,000 in 2023 General Allocation Mooney, a guaranteed $100,000 in 2024 GAM and up to a conditional $300,000 in GAM if certain performance metrics are reached — $150,000 if Mensah is on San Jose’s roster after the roster compliance date in 2024 and another $150,000 if he’s on the roster after the roster compliance date in 2025 and the Earthquakes will pay all of Mensah’s salary. This move was first reported by’s Tom Bogert.

“Above all, we want to thank Jonathan for his contributions to the Crew and the Columbus community on-and-off the field since joining the Club in 2017,” president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in the press release announcing the move. “He is truly the consummate professional, a great teammate and an even better person. Jonathan will always remain an important part of our Club’s history, including winning MLS Cup 2020 together, and we wish him and his wife Kafui all the best in the future.

Mensah, 32, signed for the Black & Gold in 2017 as a Designated Player via a Discovery Signing. Having played 159 games played (155 starts) for the Crew, the former Ghana National Team member has recorded over 13,000 minutes in Major League Soccer action, tallying seven goals and three assists.

The captain played a pivotal part in their 2020 MLS Cup run, helping the Black & Gold secure the 1-0 win against the New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference Finals when he laid a cross down for Artur who calmly slotted it home past Matt Turner. He was the player who raised the MLS Cup Trophy for the club when Columbus defeated the Seattle Sounders 3-0 in the Final that season.

Trading Mensah will certainly be a surprise for fans, as the Ghanian had become a key part of the team under past head coaches Gregg Berhalter and Caleb Porter. This offseason, however, Columbus parted ways with Porter and appointed Wilfried Nancy as the eighth head coach in team history. Nancy brings with him a specific style of play that will define his Crew team.

Throughout the preseason, players were evaluated for how they fit with the new playing style the Black & Gold will deploy under Nancy. This included the entire backline. It was determined, with consideration of factors such as age and salary, that Mensah is a player Columbus could move while getting a substantial return.

“This was certainly a difficult decision to make as we assessed our roster throughout the preseason heading into the 2023 campaign,” Bezbatchenko continued. “This opportunity materialized and we felt it would give us flexibility to promote players from within the Club and add new players from the outside, in the short term and long term.”

Mensah becomes the third player to depart the team this offseason who was a regular contributor last year. Both wingers Pedro Santos and Derrick Etienne Jr. signed free agent contracts with D.C. United and Atlanta United respectively.

Mensah was elected the team captain ahead of the 2020 MLS season. He has also captured honors such as being the teams Defender of the Year (2018-20), and the Crew’s Ohio Health Humanitarian of the Year in 2017.

The move for Mensah does not come in a vacuum. Sources tell Massive Report that the Crew is in the process of adding to the backline and the expectation is there will be an important addition made prior to the start of the 2023 MLS season.

Columbus Crew’s 2022 roster:

Goalkeepers (4): Evan Bush, Eloy Room, Patrick Schulte, Brady Scott

Defenders (9): Milos Degenek, Mohamed Farsi, Keegan Hughes, Jimmy Medranda, Steven Moreira, Jake Morris, Philip Quinton, Will Sands, Josh Williams

Midfielders (9): Luis Diaz, Kevin Molino, Alex Matan, Aidan Morris, Darlington Nagbe, Isaiah Parente, Yaw Yeboah, Sean Zawadzki, Lucas Zelarayan

Forwards (3): Cucho Hernandez, Christian Ramirez, Jacen Russell-Rowe

This story has been updated since the official announcement from the club.