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Columbus Crew announces 2021 roster after championship, owner eyes bright future

Columbus Crew players celebrate a goal against the Seattle Sounders during the first half of the MLS Championship soccer match Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Following its MLS Cup victory, the Columbus Crew announced six players had their contract options declined and three other players are out of contract, while eight players had their options picked up for 2021.

The Crew currently has 22 of 30 roster spots filled for the 2021 season.

For 2021, the Crew decided to bring back goalkeeper Eloy Room, defenders Harrison Afful, Grant Lillard, Milton Valenzuela and Josh Williams, midfielders Pedro Santos and Derrick Etienne Jr., and forward Miguel Berry by exercising their contract options.

The club also announced it acquired veteran goalkeeper Evan Bush from Vancouver Whitecaps for $125,000.

Goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell, midfielders Youness Mokhtar annd Fatai Alashe, and forwards Jordan Hamilton and Krisztian Nemeth all had their options declined and are no longer with the team.

Forward Fanendo Adi, defender Waylon Francis and midfielders Emmanuel Boateng and Hector Jimenez are out of contract, but the Crew’s release stated that the club will continue to talk to them about new contracts.

Fourteen other players are still under contract for 2021, including Gyasi Zardes, Darlington Nagbe, Lucas Zelarayan, Artur, Vito Wormgoor and Jonathan Mensah.

Owner-investor Dr. Pete Edwards says management, coaching and a new stadium will put this talented roster in position to win.

“Despite all the challenges we encountered during the 2020 season, our team was able to bring Columbus its second MLS Cup. As we turn our attention towards the 2021 season, we are glad to welcome back the core of our squad,” Bezbatchenko said in a statement. “While we have achieved one of our goals by winning MLS Cup, we want to continue to build off the success of this season and will look to continue to strengthen our roster in pursuit of that.”