Where we left off last year
2023 season: 57 points, 3rd in the Eastern Conference
In 2023, the Columbus Crew won MLS Cup for the third time in the club’s history. They controlled the ball, created quality chances, and scored off of one of the prettiest assists MLS has ever seen in their 2-1 win over LAFC at Lower.com Field.
Wilfried Nancy worked wonders during his first year in Ohio, justifying Crew president Tim Bezbatchenko’s decision to pay a transfer fee to acquire his services from CF Montreal. Under Nancy, Columbus owned possession in virtually every game and quickly became the most aesthetically pleasing team to watch in MLS. Now, Columbus struggled at times towards the beginning of the year and re-shaped their roster in the summer as Lucas Zelarayan moved to the Middle East and Diego Rossi returned from Turkey.
But with a tactical overhaul, role players thriving in new positions, and Cucho Hernandez running the attack, the Crew ended 2023 as worthy champions.
What changed in the offseason
- Derrick Jones, CM: It hasn’t been a change-filled offseason for Columbus, with the front office opting to maintain most of the team’s MLS Cup-winning group. Why shouldn’t they try for another bite of the apple? Still, adding Jones in free agency was a savvy move. The 26-year-old central midfielder has the tools to be an elite MLS player, but just hasn’t put it together. If any coach is going to help the midfielder reach the next level, it’s Nancy, who seemed to make every Columbus player better last year than they were in 2022.
- Marino Hinestroza, W/WB: Joining from Pachuca as a U-22 initiative signing, Hinestroza is a speculative addition. He’s only played 1,400 Liga MX minutes in his young career, but could be in line for a sizable chunk of minutes at wingback in 2024.