For the second time in three days, Columbus Crew SC lost a left fullback from its 2017 roster.
The club traded Waylon Francis to the Seattle Sounders on Thursday, both teams announced Thursday. The Black and Gold are receiving $50,000 in general allocation money as part of the deal. This comes two days after LAFC picked Jukka Raitala in the 2017 Expansion Draft before sending him and Raheem Edwards to the Montreal Impact in exchange for Laurent Ciman.
“We want to thank Waylon for his service to the club during the last four seasons,” head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter said in a team release. “Waylon’s contributions helped shape Crew SC’s style of play and we wish him the best of luck in the next stage of his career.”
Columbus Crew SC Deals Left Back Waylon Francis to Seattle Sounders
The 27-year-old joined the club ahead of the 2014 season, Berhalter’s first in charge. Over the course of his time in Columbus, Francis made 83 regular season appearances including 75 starts. He also played every single minute in the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs as Crew SC made it all the way to the final before falling to the Portland Timbers.
During his first two seasons with the team, Francis established himself as one of the top attack-minded outside backs in MLS. He combined for 13 assists in that time, including seven in 2015 which led all defenders in the league. A year earlier, he made Costa Rica’s final 23-man roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup though he didn’t see any minutes for the Ticos who made a Cinderella run to the quarterfinals.
But his minutes started to dry up in 2016. It came as a result of a shoulder injury he suffered in August that eventually required season-ending surgery. A year later, he saw his fewest minutes with the club since joining, with Raitala and Hector Jimenez the preferred options at left back for Berhalter. Francis didn’t make a single appearance during the playoffs this season.
Projecting Francis’ Role in Seattle
The MLS Cup runners-up are getting a capable left back with international experience who could challenge for starter minutes in 2018. Francis will certainly inject competition into the position, even though Nouhou Tolo excelled there in 2017. His sudden emergence enabled Sounders manager Brian Schmetzer to deploy Joevin Jones more advanced as an attacking winger, leveraging his quality in the final third.
But Jones is departing for Germany and so Tolo, who signed with Seattle’s USL club in 2016 before making the first team, is the incumbent starter at left back. Nevertheless, Francis possesses a great deal of experience. When he’s healthy, he’s a formidable presence on any back line. As a result, the Sounders’ depth at the position received a welcome upgrade with Francis joining the club. Meanwhile, Columbus receives assets it can use to construct its roster for the coming season.
TRANSACTION: Columbus Crew SC trades Waylon Francis to the Seattle Sounders for $50,000 in general allocation money.
Photo credit: Columbus Crew SC Communications