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The Crew sign 2023 MLS SuperDraft pick Max Arfsten to first-team contract

The rookie earns a roster spot following a strong showing in MLS NEXT Pro.

Courtesy of Columbus Crew

Just four days before the start of the 2023 Major League Soccer season, the Columbus Crew added to the team’s roster. The Black & Gold announced the signing of 2023 MLS SuperDraft pick Maximillian “Max” Arfsten on Tuesday afternoon, just as the dust began to settle following the team’s media day festivities. The 21-year-old forward joins Columbus on a one-year contract with options for the 2025 and 2026 seasons.

Arfsten was selected by the Crew the with the No. 14 overall in this year’s SuperDraft and joined the Black & Gold for pre-season training. He will add to a forward group that features Designated Player Cucho Hernandez, last season’s MLS NEXT Pro Most Valuable Player Jacen Russell-Rowe and offseason signing Christian Ramirez.

The Columbus newcomer isn’t new to the MLS ranks. He previously featured for San Jose Earthquakes II in MLS NEXT Pro last season, where he scored nine goals and collected six assists. His strong numbers and work ethic drew the interest of Crew head coach Wilfred Nancy and Black & Gold president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko prior to the SuperDraft.

“Max’s hard work and attitude along with his ability to make an impact in the attack did not go unnoticed throughout preseason and we are excited to see him earn a spot on our first-team roster,” Bezbatchenko said in the press release announcing the signing.

Bezbatchenko credited Crew 2 general manager Corey Wray and his staff for doing their due diligence and making the selection in the SuperDraft to land Afsten.

“Led by Corey Wray, the draft team including Marshall Bushnell and Nate Horton put in the work behind the scenes in preparation for the SuperDraft,” Bezbatchenko continued. “They identified Max as a talented player who had a strong start to his professional career in MLS NEXT Pro. We are looking forward to working with Max as he continues his development as a player in a first-team environment.”

Prior to his arrival in Columbus, Arfsten appeared in 24 matches, 21 starts, for Earthquakes II during the 2022 campaign. In addition to his nine goals and six assists, the 21 year old managed two multi-goal games, once against Colorado Rapids 2 on May 15 and against Minnesota United on Sept. 18.

Arfsten played collegiately at UC Davis where he started 16 of 19 games during his freshman year, en route to earning 2019 Big West Conference All-Freshman Team honors. During his final collegiate season in 2021, he scored eight goals and tallied seven assists for the Aggies.

Columbus Crew’s 2022 roster:

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

Defenders (10): Milos Degenek, Mohamed Farsi, Keegan Hughes, Jimmy Medranda, Jonathan Mensah, 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): Max Arfsten, Cucho Hernandez, Christian Ramirez, Jacen Russell-Rowe