COLUMBUS – Columbus Crew SC confirmed that the core of its 2017 side that reached the 2017 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Championship is set to return in 2018 as the club announced that it has exercised the contract options on nine players from its 2017 roster, while 10 others were already under contract for the 2018 season, giving the Black & Gold a roster that currently features 19 players.
Crew SC exercised the options of defenders Lalas Abubakar, Harrison Afful, Connor Maloney and Josh Williams; midfielders Artur, Mohammed Abu, Niko Hansen and Cristian Martinez; and forward Ola Kamara. Crew SC will continue to remain in dialogue with Brazilian club Sao Paulo FC regarding Artur.
The Black & Gold simultaneously announced that they have declined the contract options of goalkeepers Logan Ketterer and Brad Stuver; defenders Waylon Francis and Gaston Sauro; and midfielders Marshall Hollingsworth, Abuchi Obinwa, Rodrigo Saravia and Ben Swanson. Crew SC will remain in discussions with Sauro and Francis this offseason. Crew SC has also extended an offer to forward Kekuta Manneh, who is out of contract.
“Preparations for 2018 are underway and we are pleased to bring back the core of this year’s roster for next year,” said Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “We came just short of our goal of returning to MLS Cup, but will look to continue to shape our roster in an effort to improve for the 2018 campaign.”
A full Major League Soccer list of players eligible for Free Agency, the Waiver Draft and Re-Entry Draft will be announced by the League. The MLS Half-Day Trade window takes place between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 10 and the Expansion Draft is set to be held on Tuesday, December 12 at 2 p.m. ET. Later that same day, MLS Free Agency begins at 3 p.m. ET. The MLS Waiver Draft is scheduled for Wednesday, December 13 at 3:30 p.m. ET and the MLS Re-Entry Draft begins with Stage One on Friday, December 15 at 3 p.m. ET. Stage Two of the Re-Entry Draft takes place on Thursday, December 21 at 2 p.m. ET.
Crew SC’s current 2018 roster:
Goalkeepers (1): Zack Steffen
Defenders (7): Lalas Abubakar, Harrison Afful, Alex Crognale, Connor Maloney, Jonathan Mensah, Jukka Raitala, Josh Williams
Midfielders (9): Artur, Mohammed Abu, Niko Hansen, Federico Higuain, Hector Jimenez, Cristian Martinez, Justin Meram, Pedro Santos, Wil Trapp
Forwards (2): Adam Jahn, Ola Kamara