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Crew 2 signs Xavier Zengue to MLS NEXT Pro contract

The Black & Gold have added a first-round pick to the reserve side.

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

Columbus Crew 2 announced an addition to the team’s roster on Wednesday. The Black & Gold’s reserve team has signed defender Xavier Zengue to its 2023 roster, awarding him with an MLS NEXT Pro contract.

The 6-foot defender out of the University of Dayton was selected as the No. 27 pick in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft by the Crew. The Black & Gold had enough interest in Zengue to trade up and make the selection, acquiring the pick from the Houston Dynamo for $50,000 in General Allocation Money. Zengue joins Crew 2 following a four-year spell with the Flyers.

“Xavier is an exciting, talented player who gained valuable experience training with the First Team throughout preseason,” said Crew 2 general manager Corey Wray in the press release announcing the signing. “We are excited to see Xavier remain in Ohio as he takes this first step of his professional career, and we look forward to helping him develop and reach his potential within the Columbus Crew organization.”

In his senior season with the Flyers, Zengue made 17 appearances, starting in all of them, and clocked 1,526 minutes on the field, making him the second-highest contributor on the team. His efforts earned him recognition as the No. 56 Prospect in the country by Top Drawer Soccer. Zengue received multiple honors, including second-team All-Southeast Region, first-team All-Ohio, and Academic All-Ohio, as well as a second-team All-Conference selection. Dayton ended the season with a 10-2-5 overall record and a 3-2-3 conference record, finishing fourth in the Atlantic-10 standings. The team progressed to the quarterfinals of the Atlantic-10 tournament, where the Flyers were defeated by eventual champions Saint Louis University 3-1 on penalty kicks, following a 1-1 tie in regulation time.

Zengue joins a Crew 2 team that won the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro Cup in 2022, with hopes to build off of a strong first season in the league. Several Crew 2 players from last season’s championship-winning team have already made the step up to the first team, with goalkeeper Patrick Schulte and Philip Quinton both making their MLS debuts for the Black & Gold’s 2023 MLS season opening 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Union.

After spending one year with Crew 2 and earning a Crew contract in the preseason with his play, Quinton has now started both games for the Columbus senior team, providing a clear path to how players can make the jump from MLS NEXT Pro to MLS. Zengue will certainly look at Quinton’s journey and hope to do something similar in Columbus.

Information regarding the MLS NEXT Pro schedule for the upcoming season and the availability of tickets for Crew 2 home games will be announced in the following days, according to the press release.