Crewsmas Week: Columbus Crew 2024 Season Preview

The reigning MLS champs kick off their 2024 campaign this Saturday as they take on Atlanta United at Field. More to follow on what to expect from the Black and Gold.
Atlanta United v Columbus Crew - Game Three
Atlanta United v Columbus Crew - Game Three / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

It feels like years since we last watched our glorious Columbus Crew lift our third MLS Cup on home soil once again. It’s been a long two-plus months, but we've made it safe and sound! We’re going to take a look at what the Black and Gold were up to in the offseason, examine our 2024 schedule, and, of course, provide our long-awaited preview for the match against Atlanta United this Saturday, February 24th, at 2pm local time.

Transfer business

Compared to some clubs around the country, the Crew’s business so far has been quiet. Let’s begin with the departures.


Following a midseason trade, Julian Gressel experienced a mix of highs and lows during his brief tenure in Columbus. The US international midfielder/defender has since moved on to sign with Inter Miami CF in free agency.

Kevin Molino's time with Columbus came to an end as both the club and Molino mutually agreed to terminate his contract, concluding the Trinidad & Tobago international's stint with the team.

Josh Williams, a center back and revered figure in the Crew's history, saw his contract expire following their MLS Cup victory last December. With 215 career matches under his belt for the club, Williams leaves behind a significant legacy.


Marino Hinestroza, a U22 Initiative signing, arrives from Liga MX side Pachuca and is extremely versatile, with his ability to play in the middle of the park, in the attack, and quite possibly a potential competitor with Mo Farsi for that right wingback role in Wilfried Nancy’s system.

Derrick Jones, a free-agent acquisition and former US youth international, brings versatility to Columbus, with the potential to contribute either in defense or midfield. His most recent stint was with Charlotte FC, and his ability to come in and play several different role is key as games come thick and fast.

Draft picks and promoting Crew 2 player

The Columbus Crew drafted Jayden Da (forward), Zach Zengue (midfielder), and Luke Pruter (goalkeeper) in the 2024 MLS SuperDraft, acquisitions that could prove invaluable in the near future. The Black and Gold have consistently demonstrated their commitment to youth development, making these selections indicative of their ongoing dedication to nurturing young talent.

Speaking of youth talent, the Crew also awarded Taha Habroune a new contract and promoted him to the first team after several successful years with the Crew's developmental team and the USYNT. He's another player to watch this season as he competes with Darlington Nagbe and Aidan Morris for the center midfield spot.

Fixtures to mark your calendars

One of the hard hitting questions among Crew fans for 2024 pertains to when they will face Lionel Messi and Inter Miami. In fact, the champs get to battle them not once, but twice! The matchups are scheduled for June 19th in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and October 2nd at Field.

The intense Hell is Real rivalry will be reignited as the Crew takes on FC Cincinnati on May 11th at Field and again on September 14th in Cincinnati. Their previous encounter in the 2023 Eastern Conference final saw the Crew stage a remarkable comeback from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 in extra time.

A rematch of the MLS Cup Final is slated for July 13th when the Crew faces off against LAFC. Field will also play host to the 2024 MLS All-Star Game on July 24th, promising an exciting event.

Another noteworthy fixture is against the New England Revolution, now under the leadership of former Crew coach, and 2020 MLS Cup champ Caleb Porter. Porter will host his former club on May 29th, at Foxborough, Massachusetts.

The final regular-season match, set for MLS Decision Day, will see the Crew facing the New York Red Bulls on October 19th. Alongside their quest to secure back-to-back MLS Cups, the team will also contend with other competitions throughout the season.

The Black & Gold's first fixture in the Champions Cup Round of 16 will be an away game on March 6th against either the Houston Dynamo or St. Louis CITY SC, with the home leg scheduled for March 12th. Additionally, Columbus will host a Mexican club for the Campeones Cup, likely in September, and will participate in the Leagues Cup in July and August.

It’s nearly Crewsmas time!

Unfortunately, it is Inter Miami who will kick off the MLS season opener as they face off against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday, February 21st. However, Columbus starts its championship defense on Saturday, February 24th, as the team hosts Atlanta United at Field. Undoubtedly, the Arena District will be buzzing, and it will be a celebratory Crewsmas as the Crew commemorates its championship with a fervent fanbase, eager to recreate the magic of the previous season.

The highly anticipated season commences, and both clubs are eager to start strong. Their last encounter was in last season’s playoffs, where yours truly, the Columbus Crew advanced after winning two out of the three playoff games against Atlanta United.

Columbus Crew had a quiet preseason period as they participated in a few scrimmages behind closed doors and the results weren’t officially released as of yet. Now, with Columbus seeking to start a dynasty, and Atlanta wanting revenge, both teams aim to translate their preparations and planning into a successful battle for the first three points of the long season.