COLUMBUS – Columbus Crew SC today announced that the club has acquired defender Milton Valenzuela (pronounced: VAH-len-SWAY-la) on a permanent transfer as a Young Designated Player following his initial 2018 loan to Columbus from Newell’s Old Boys of Argentina’s First Division. As a Young Designated Player, Valenzuela is set to continue to be Crew SC’s third Designated Player, with Federico Higuain and Pedro Santos to round-out the club’s three Designated Player status slots. Valenzuela, 20, played for the Black & Gold during the 2018 Major League Soccer season on loan and will continue to occupy an international roster spot for Crew SC pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate.
Valenzuela joined Crew SC on loan on January 26, 2018, making his club and MLS debut as a starter in a road contest against Toronto FC on March 3, providing the game-winning assist in Crew SC’s 2-0 victory. The 20-year-old defender went on to make 30 appearances (29 starts) for the Black & Gold during the 2018 MLS regular season, scoring one goal and providing six assists, including two game-winning assists. Valenzuela scored his first regular-season goal for the club in Crew SC’s 3-1 home victory over D.C. United at MAPFRE Stadium on March 24.
“Milton is a player who was able to make an immediate impact on the field at a young age and has become one of the premier leftbacks in Major League Soccer. We felt that securing his permanent transfer from Newell’s Old Boys was a priority this offseason,” said Crew SC Interim General Manager Pat Onstad. “We are excited to have him back with the Club for the upcoming season and look forward to seeing his continued development and growth.”
The Argentine defender completed 27 crosses from open play in regular-season action – more than any other defender in MLS – and made the fourth-highest number of tackles in the League during the 2018 regular season. Valenzuela’s 87 tackles put him behind only Minnesota United FC’s Rasmus Schuller (145), Orlando City SC’s Mohamed El-Munir (100) and FC Dallas’ Reggie Cannon (92). Of his 87 tackles, the 20-year-old won 57 of them, the third-most among MLS defenders during the 2018 regular season. Additionally, Valenzuela led Crew SC in the following categories: tackles (87), tackles won (57), tackles per 90 minutes (3.06) and successful open crosses (27).
Prior to joining Crew SC, Valenzuela played for Newell’s Old Boys of the Superliga Argentina – Argentina’s topflight – where he made 13 appearances (10 starts) for Newell’s Old Boys in league play. Additionally, the Rosario native made two appearances (both starts) for the club in Copa Argentina, Argentina’s domestic cup. At the international level, Valenzuela featured for Argentina’s Under-20 squad, earning 10 caps (nine starts). The defender featured in eight of Argentina’s nine matches at the 2017 South American Youth Football Championship, making seven starts while helping Argentina qualify for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea. Valenzuela also made two appearances (all starts) in the group stage of the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Following this announcement, Crew SC's current roster headed into the 2019 campaign, listed alphabetically by position, is below:
Goalkeepers (3): Jon Kempin, Ben Lundgaard, Zack Steffen
Defenders (8): Lalas Abubakar, Harrison Afful, Alex Crognale, Connor Maloney, Jonathan Mensah, Gaston Sauro, Milton Valenzuela, 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
TRANSACTION: Columbus Crew SC acquires defender Milton Valenzuela on a permanent transfer from Newell’s Old Boys as a Young Designated Player on December 21, 2018. He will continue to occupy an international roster spot for Crew SC pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate.
Name: Milton Valenzuela (VAH-len-SWAY-la)
Born: August 13, 1998 in Rosario, Argentina
Hometown: Rosario, Argentina
Acquired: Originally arrived on loan from Newell’s Old Boys on January 26, 2018 and was acquired on a permanent transfer as a Young Designated Player on December 21, 2018.
Previous Experience: Columbus Crew SC (2018), Newell’s Old Boys (2016-2017)