COLUMBUS – Columbus Crew SC today announced that the core of its 2018 side that reached the 2018 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals is set to return entering 2019. The club announced that it has exercised the contract options on eight players from its 2018 roster and has reached a new contract agreement with defender Lalas Abubakar. With 13 other players already under contract for 2019, today’s roster update gives the Black & Gold a roster that currently features 22 players.
Crew SC exercised the options of goalkeepers Jon Kempin and Ben Lungaard; defenders Alex Crognale, Connor Maloney, Gaston Sauro and Josh Williams; and midfielders Luis Argudo and Niko Hansen. Crew SC will continue to remain in dialogue with Argentine club Newell’s Old Boys regarding defender Milton Valenzuela. Crew SC reached a new contract agreement with defender Lalas Abubakar. Abubakar returns to Crew SC for his third season in MLS, having been chosen by the Black & Gold in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft.
The Black & Gold simultaneously announced that they have declined the contract options of goalkeeper Logan Ketterer; midfielders Ricardo Clark, Mike Grella and Cristian Martinez; and forward Adam Jahn. Crew SC remains in contract dialogue with midfielder Ricardo Clark.
“2019 roster preparations are ongoing, and together with our returning players we look to add new talent that can execute our style of play and position the team to return to the postseason,” said Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter.
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 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 9 and the Expansion Draft is set to be held on Tuesday, December 11 at 2:00 p.m. ET. Later that same day, MLS Free Agency begins at 3:00 p.m. ET. The MLS Waiver Draft is scheduled for Wednesday, December 12 at 4:00 p.m. ET and the MLS Re-Entry Draft begins with Stage One on Friday, December 14 at 3:00 p.m. ET. Stage Two of the Re-Entry Draft takes place on Thursday, December 20 at 2:00 p.m. ET.
Crew SC's current roster headed into 2019, listed alphabetically by position, is below:
Goalkeepers (3): Jon Kempin, Ben Lundgaard, Zack Steffen
Defenders (7): Lalas Abubakar, Harrison Afful, Alex Crognale, Connor Maloney, Jonathan Mensah, Gaston Sauro, Josh Williams
Midfielders (10): Luis Argudo, Artur, Niko Hansen, Federico Higuain, Hector Jimenez, Justin Meram, Edward Opoku, Pedro Santos, Eduardo Sosa, Wil Trapp
Forwards (2): Patrick Mullins, Gyasi Zardes
TRANSACTIONS: Columbus Crew SC exercises 2019 contract options on eight players; reaches a new contract agreement with defender Lalas Abubakar; and declines contract options on five players on November 26, 2018.