It was a little under two years ago that Columbus Crew SC was on the cusp of winning the MLS Cup Final in front of a scaled-back crowd of 1,500 spectators due to COVID-19 safeguards being put in place for MLS to finish out the 2020 season. Columbus bested Seattle Sounders FC on Dec. 12, 2020 by a 3-1 count in the last MLS postseason match to be played at Historic Crew Stadium. That season, Caleb Porter served as the manager for Central Ohio’s charter MLS club. Just 22 months later, Crew SC missed the MLS Cup Playoffs for the second in time in as many years. A Decision Day loss to US Open Cup winners Orlando City SC on the road was the final one for Porter as head coach. Now, Wilfried Nancy will be given a chance to turn things around.
Less than 24 hours after the final whistle blew, Caleb Porter was out of a job. From there, the front office’s next goal was finding a suitable replacement for the former head coach.
Rumors Suggest Wilfried Nancy as Next Crew SC Head Coach
As this year’s MLS Cup Playoffs took place in late October, the rumor mill started up regarding the vacancy on the sidelines at Lower.com Field. MLSSoccer.com’s Tom Bogert reported on Oct. 25 that the team was aiming to hire Wilfried Nancy, who spent the 2022 season as the manager of CF Montreal, under the same capacity in Columbus.
Nancy’s contract with Montreal was due to expire following this past season after his option was picked up for 2022 on his original contract Since the team qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference bracket, it picked up Nancy’s vesting option for next season as a result.
“Columbus is viewed as perhaps the most attractive vacancy in MLS right now, with stars Lucas Zelaryan, Cucho Hernandez, and Darlington Nagbe leading the roster- and there’s a brand-new stadium (Lower.com Field) and training facility (OhioHealth Performance Center),” Bogert wrote at the time.
Wilfried Nancy was named as one of the finalists for the 2022 Sigi Schmid MLS Coach of the Year Award, finishing as a runner-up to Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin.
Nancy Initially Quiet on Coaching Future
During Wilfried Nancy’s media availability following CF Montreal’s season-ending defeat to New York City FC in the Eastern Conference Semifinal, he declined to answer questions on what might come next.
“Today is the end-of-season presser,” Nancy said to the media. “I don’t want to talk about my situation. We’ll have time to talk about it later, but now we talk about the season.
While CF Montreal hoped that Nancy would still be the manager heading into next season, Columbus Crew SC President and General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko had other ideas. Tuesday afternoon, Lower.com Field was the setting for a press conference where Nancy was officially introduced as the next coach of Crew SC.
Wilfried Nancy To Bring Members of Former Montreal Staff to Columbus
With the announcement, Wilfried Nancy has become the eighth different man in charge of the charter MLS club since play began in the spring of 1996 at Ohio Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University. Columbus’ head coaching lineage includes USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter, who guided the Americans to a round of 16 appearance in the World Cup in Qatar, the late Sigi Schmid, and Robert Warzycha, who led the Crew to its first-ever MLS Cup in 2008.
Nancy isn’t the only former member of the CF Montreal coaching staff to make the trek from Quebec to Ohio. As part of compensation by Montreal to send Nancy to Columbus, Crew SC will also receive the services of assistant manager Kwame Ampadu, strength coach Jules Gueguen, and video consultant Maxime Chalier.
Crew SC will pay an unstated dollar amount to CF Montreal to complete the deal.
Tim Bezbatchenko’s Comments on Wilfred Nancy’s Hiring
At Tuesday’s press conference, Bezbatchenko offered up his thoughts on Crew SC’s new manager.
“We are thrilled to welcome Wilfried to Columbus as the next head coach of the crew,” Bezbatchenko said. “Throughout this process, it was clear that he is a knowledgeable, insightful and innovative coach with extensive experience within the different levels of the North American soccer landscape.”
Wilfried Nancy has already brought along members of his former coaching staff from CF Montreal. This brings about a salient question:
What Else Can Wilfred Nancy Bring to Crew SC?
In short, Wilfred Nancy is capable of bringing good fortune back to Columbus and Crew SC. The club has now gone close to two full years since winning a championship.
Nancy’s hiring might look good on paper, but as the great Chris Berman always used to say on ESPN, “That’s why they play the games.” This is a head coach who took over from an MLS legend in Thierry Henry before the season began two years ago and has been successful in the past.
He’s a Proven Winner
While at CF Montreal, Wilfred Nancy compiled a 32-21-15 record, including a 20-9-5 record in 2022. Last season, Montreal set single season records in wins with 20, points in the standings with 65 and goals scored with 63.
Montreal was the No. 2 seed in the playoffs last season and came within 90 minutes of a berth in the MLS Eastern Conference Final earlier this fall. Nancy established a winning culture in Quebec. Odds are that he’ll do the same in Ohio.
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He’s Committed to the Job
If you look at Wilfred Nancy’s coaching history, you’ll see that prior to joining Columbus Crew SC, he was associated with the Montreal Impact/ CF Montreal staff in one way or another for close to 12 years, beginning with a stint in the team’s youth academy between 2011 and 2016. He served as an assistant under four different head coaches before assuming managerial duties in the spring of 2021.
You don’t get opportunities for advancement in your chosen field without commitment to your craft. There’s no denying that he’ll be committed to the job in Columbus like he was in Montreal.
Rooting for sports teams, regardless of league or level can be a rough task at times, especially in Ohio. One need look no further than the Nov. 26 Ohio State football program’s loss to Michigan as an example of how some days can be difficult.
At the same time, however, there are sunny days that Ohio sports fans can experience. The hiring of Wilfred Nancy is the latest such day. He’s ready to go to work in Columbus.
“I’m eager to get started and welcome the players back on January 6 as we begin our quest to bring another trophy to Columbus,” Nancy said.
Here’s to the next chapter of Crew SC soccer.
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