Wilfried Nancy puts pen to paper on new Columbus Crew contract

President and General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko announced today that the Columbus Crew and Head Coach Wilfried Nancy have reached an agreement on a contract extension, extinguishing any lingering threat of departure for the mean time.
Los Angeles Football Club v Columbus Crew - 2023 MLS Cup
Los Angeles Football Club v Columbus Crew - 2023 MLS Cup / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

Wilfried Nancy, widely regarded as one of the premier coaches in MLS, has earned accolades for his performance in the previous season. His knack for developing a playing style that both controls matches and cultivates talent has been crucial to the success of the Columbus Crew, and is enjoying life in Columbus after a remarkable 2023 and start of 2024 which saw him earn a new deal. The 47-year-old Frenchman took over as manager of the Columbus Crew in 2023 following the dismissal of previous head coach Caleb Porter at the end of the 2022 season. When Nancy joined Columbus, the club made the unprecedented move of compensating CF Montréal for their manager, and both parties never looked back. Nancy had spent more than a decade with Montréal, rising from the academy ranks to become a first-team assistant, and ultimately serving as head coach—taking over from Thierry Henry for the 2021 and 2022 seasons, before moving to Ohio.

Under Nancy's leadership, the Crew adopted a bold, attacking style of play, propelling the team to a third-place finish in the Eastern Conference last season. In his inaugural season, Nancy guided the Crew to its third MLS Cup victory. This historic playoff run featured a dramatic extra time victory over archrivals FC Cincinnati in the Eastern Conference final and a 2-1 triumph over Los Angeles FC in the MLS Cup final at Lower.com Field, whilst playing a brand of soccer NEVER seen before in the league’s history

"In addition to winning MLS Cup last year, we are excited to extend Wilfried’s contract because of the culture he has helped create within the Club, including our shared commitment to developing individuals both as players and as people, within the overall Crew ‘One Club’ philosophy. When we hired Wilfried, our top priority was ensuring alignment from the First Team through Crew 2 and the Academy with coaches, players and staff, including in our desired style of play, player profiles and most importantly, our club values. Wilfried has delivered in every way, and then some, with his leadership and devotion to entertaining soccer. We are confident with his and our team’s collective leadership and collaboration that we can continue to build upon the foundation that has been laid and consistently compete for championships for our fans and the City of Columbus."

Tim Bezbatchenko

In 2024, Nancy's Columbus continued its strong performance, recording only one loss in the first eight MLS matches and achieving another milestone by reaching the CONCACAF Champions Cup semifinals for the first time after defeating Tigres. The Crew is set to face Monterrey in the semifinals. Amidst rumors and widespread speculation among Crew and MLS fans about Nancy's potential move to a top European club, the new contract extension has temporarily put those discussions to rest.

Improving and getting the best of his players

In 2023, alongside the team's achievements, Nancy and his coaching staff played a significant role in player development, contributing to forward Cucho Hernández being named MLS Cup MVP and included in the 2023 MLS Best XI. Homegrown midfielder Aidan Morris was also named a 2023 MLS All-Star.

Players such as Cucho Hernández from Colombia, Morris from the USA, goalkeeper Nicholas Hagen from Guatemala, defender Steven Moreira from Cape Verde, forward Jacen Russell-Rowe from Canada, goalkeeper Patrick Schulte from the USA, and midfielder/defender Sean Zawadzki from the USA also earned call-ups to their respective senior national teams over the past year. Furthermore, the Crew has continued to foster talent integration by promoting homegrown players and those from their MLS NEXT Pro team, including the recent addition of Taha Habroune.

Whether this deal is a way to get more money from European teams trying to swoop in and buy out the remainder of Nancy’s contract or not, similar to what Columbus did to acquire him, our Head Coach is here to stay.