Who Needs to Step Up for Repeat Cup Run in 2024?

The Columbus Crew won the MLS cup in 2023 with a mix of MLS veterans and young players pulled up from their academy and MLS Next Pro team. But who needs to step up for the Crew to repeat as champions in 2024?
Columbus Crew v Loudon United FC
Columbus Crew v Loudon United FC / Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/GettyImages

The Columbus Crew had a great season in 2023, winning the MLS Cup for the third time in their history. The team’s success was built on a solid foundation of teamwork, skill, and determination. However, last seasons successes bring new challenges this season. The Crew will be competing in multiple competitions this year including CONCACAF Champions Cup, Leagues Cup, Campeones Cup, and the MLS regular season. In total, the Crew could play upwards of 50 games this season and the teams depth will be tested.

Two players who will be key to the Crew’s success this congested season are Max Arfsten and Jacen Russell-Rowe. Arfsten, who was signed by the Crew in 2023, has already made an impact with his hard work and attitude. He scored 3 goals and registered 2 assists in 13 appearances with the Crew in the 2023 MLS regular season and playoffs . Russell-Rowe, who was signed by the Crew in 2022, had a promising rookie season in 2023, scoring 4 goal and 3 assists through the 2023 MLS regular season.

Max Arfsten is a versatile player who can play as a striker or a winger. He has excellent ball control and is a good finisher. While Arfsten may be lower on the depth chart behind star striker Cucho Hernández and veteran Christian Ramírez, he will definitely see more minutes as the Crew rotate the roster.

Jacen Russell-Rowe is a young forward who has shown great potential. He is a natural goal scorer with excellent movement off the ball. Russell-Rowe is also a good passer and can create chances for his teammates. He will be competing for minutes with other forwards on the team, but his talent and work ethic should help him earn playing time.

The Columbus Crew has a talented roster that can compete at the highest level. With the congested schedule and multiple chances to win silverware this season, can the young duo step up this season and help the Crew be successful in 2024?