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2023 Season Previews: Columbus Crew

(Rooted Creative)


Welcome to the fourteenth Season Preview of the 2023 MLS season! We are continuing this journey with a team who poached one of the best managers in the league this winter, Columbus Crew. A major change up top seems to be almost across the finish line for this club. For those of you who are new to MLS Now's work, thanks for reading today and check out all of what our podcast and blog site has to offer. Let's get into it below.

2022 Recap

Record: 10-16-8 (46 points/8th in East)

Team Leader Goals: Lucas Zelarayan 10, Derrick Etienne Jr. 9, Cucho 9

Team Leader Assists: Lucas Zelarayan 12, Steven Moreira 8, Luiz Diaz 6, Derrick Etienne Jr. 6

2023 Outlook

Manager: Wilfried Nancy (1st season)

Additions: LB Jimmy Medranda (free from Seattle Sounders/29 years old), CF Cristian Ramirez (transfer from Aberdeen FC/31 years old), LW Alexandru Matan (returned loan from FC Rapid 1923/23 years old)

Subtractions: CB Jonathan Mensah ($200k GAM trade to San Jose Earthquakes/32 years old), LW Derrick Etienne (free to Atlanta United/26 years old), LB/LW Pedro Santos (free to DC United/34 years old), CM Artur ($300k GAM trade to Houston Dynamo/26 years old), CF Erik Hurtado (free agent/32 years old)

Designated Players: CF Cucho Hernandez, CAM Lucas Zelarayan, CM Darlington Nagbe

Projected Starting XI

*Note*: This starting lineup has been provided by one of our Crew correspondents: Devin Weisbarth (@devinweisbarth)

There's been a good amount of change for Columbus this offseason. No matter the losses, Cucho and Lucas Zelarayan still combine to be one of the strong attacking duos in the league. I can see them putting up crazy numbers together in 2023. Their other designated player, 3-time MLS Cup Champion Darlington Nagbe, is always so sound in the middle of the field. Will always be one of my favorite players of all time in MLS. His running mate, Aidan Morris, will take off this season after receiving his first national team cap. Lots of positives for the Crew... With that being said, their back line needs serious help especially after losing Jonathan Mensah. Mensah, 32 years old and on the last year of his contract, will eventually decline. I don't doubt this is the best long-term for them, but do they have a replacement lined up? This was a panic move for San Jose, and now a lot of money is off Columbus's books. Wilfried Nancy should be a huge addition. The loses of Artur, Etienne, Mensah, and Santos really is going to test the depth and reinforcements of them, especially with so many club competitions incoming. They just have to stay near the line by the summer transfer window.

Thanks for viewing our fourteenth 2023 season preview. There will be a new one out about every single day leading up to MLS kickoff. If you are a passionate fan looking to write about your club, we are actively seeking contributors for MLS clubs this season. If interested, message us on either Twitter or Instagram @MLSNowPodcast. We want to provide an outlet for fans to discuss their club on the site and also guest star on the podcast throughout the season.

Bryce Leslie

Twitter: @bleslie19


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