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The Crew complete loan for Gustavo Vallecilla from the Colorado Rapids

The Black & Gold have acquired another center back option.

Colorado Rapids v Seattle Sounders FC Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The Columbus Crew has added another center back to the 2023 roster. The Black & Gold announced on Friday that the club has acquired defender Gustavo Vallecilla on loan for the remainder of the 2023 season from the Colorado Rapids.

In exchange for Vallencilla, 23 years old, Columbus sends $175,000 in 2023 General Allocation Money back to the Rapids. As part of the loan agreement, the Crew will have the option to purchase the Ecuadorian from Colorado on a permanent basis at the end of the loan.

“Gustavo is a promising young center back and we are excited to welcome him to the Black & Gold,” Black & Gold president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in the release announcing the loan. “Gustavo provides depth and a different profile along the backline, and we know his addition will strengthen our defensive corps as he competes for minutes.”

Vallecilla has been in MLS since he joined FC Cincinnati on loan from Sociedad Deportiva Aucas (Ecuador) in April of 2021. He made 25 appearances, all starts, for Columbus’ in-state rival that season, scoring two goals. Following the season, Cincinnati triggered the option to purchase Vallecilla from Acuas.

In March of 2022, Vallecilla was traded to the Rapids in exchange for up to $850,000 based on performance metrics. Vallecilla made 12 appearances, seven starts, for Colorado last year.

The Crew has been looking for a center back since trading former captain Jonathan Mensah to the San Jose Earthquakes on Feb. 10. Bezbatchenko said last week that the club had negotiations to acquire a center back who is playing in Turkey but the tragic Earthquake in that part of the world disrupted the potential move.

Vallecilla will now join a center back group that includes veterans Milos Degenek and Josh Williams and youth players Keegan Hughes and Philip Quinton. In the Black & Gold’s opening game of the 2023 season, head coach Wilfried Nancy started Degenek and Quinton, along with Steven Moreira, who was previously a right full back, in the three center back spots. Vallecilla will now be in the mix to play in one of those three spots.

Prior to coming to MLS, Vallecilla played professionally in Ecuador, beginning his career with Deportivo Cuenca in 2016. In 2019, Vallecilla was sold to Aucas where he played before going on loan to Barcelona SC and eventually Cincinnati.

Vallecilla has played at the international level for Ecuador’s youth and senior national teams. His first and only appearance for the Ecuador Men’s National Team came in 2021.

Columbus Crew’s 2023 roster:

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

Defenders (10): Milos Degenek, Mohamed Farsi, Keegan Hughes, Jimmy Medranda, Steven Moreira, Jake Morris, Philip Quinton, Will Sands, Gustavo Vallecilla, 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