A nearly six year run for Ethan Finlay in a Columbus Crew SC uniform is at an end.
The club is trading the 27-year-old attacking miefielder to Minnesota United FC, per FourFourTwo’s Paul Tenorio. In exchange, Crew SC is receiving around $300,000 in general and targeted allocation money split over two years, according to Tenorio.
— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) August 9, 2017
Columbus Crew SC to Trade Ethan Finlay to Minnesota United FC
Finlay’s time in Columbus appeared to be numbered after the club officially introduced Pedro Santos earlier in the day. The club acquired the Portuguese winger from SC Braga in his native country’s domestic league for a reported sum of €2 million. It made for a crowded situation on the roster with Santos occupying the same role as both Finlay and Kekuta Manneh.
Crew SC initially drafted Finlay with the tenth overall pick of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft. He enjoyed a successful collegiate career at Creighton which culminated in the Blue Jays making the 2011 College Cup semifinals. Finlay finished as a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy that year.
Over his first two seasons in Columbus, Finlay saw minimal playing time. But that changed in 2014 when he became a crucial cog in the Crew SC attack in Gregg Berhalter’s first year as manager. Finlay made 29 appearances (21 starts) and finished tied with Federico Higuain as the team’s leading scorer with 11 goals. They both also added seven assists.
Finlay’s red hot form continued a year later. He started all 34 games, netting 12 goals and providing 13 helpers. His goal total trailed just Kei Kamara’s 22 tallies for the team lead. And he added a score in the playoffs as Crew SC advanced to MLS Cup, falling 2-1 to the Portland Timbers.
His exploits attracted the attention of then USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann. Finlay eventually made three appearances for the Stars and Stripes. It included coming on as a substitute in the team’s World Cup qualifier against Guatemala in Columbus, a 4-0 US win.
But 2016 marked a dip in form for Finlay as he managed six goals and nine assists. It mirrored that of his team as Columbus suffered the dreaded MLS Cup hangover and missed the postseason. That malaise continued up to this point in the 2017 season, with Finlay having found the net just once.
Putting it all together, a trade seemed inevitable. But Finlay made his mark for Crew SC over the course of his six seasons in the Black and Gold. His 34 goals across all competitions ranks tenth in club history. And only eight other players registered more assists than his 31.
The Black and Gold’s first match without Finlay takes place this coming Saturday at home against the Chicago Fire. Proceedings from MAPFRE Stadium get underway at 7:30 PM ET.