Columbus Crew sign former Cincinnati FC defender Saad Abdul-Salaam

Crew coach Caleb Porter turned another former college player of his to fill a void in the depth of the club on the outside of the back.

The crew has removed the seven-year veteran of Major League Soccer and Gahanna High School’s product, Saad Abdul-Salaam, from the MLS exception list, the club said on Saturday.

Abdul-Salaam, 29, who won a state championship title in Gahanna with former crew captain Wil Trapp, gives the crew another option on the right or left. Prior to his signing, the crew only had one reserve at each position behind starters Harrison Afful and Milton Valenzuela.

“Saad is a defender whose versatility as a player and proven experience in our league will make him a valuable member of our squad, especially as we deal with game jams this season,” said Crew President and General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko in a statement . “We are very excited to be working with Saad and look forward to adding him to the team.”

Porter recruited and signed Abdul-Salaam with Akron in 2011 before Porter joined Portland Timbers as head coach at the end of the 2012 NCAA men’s soccer season. After four years in northeast Ohio, Abdul-Salaam spent three seasons with Sporting Kansas City, where he made 64 appearances and 46 starts.

Since then, Abdul-Salaam has moved to three different teams and was no longer held by FC Cincinnati at the end of the 2020 season, where he only played eight games in 2020.

He has made 94 career appearances with one goal and six assists.

Listed as an additional roster slot on the MLS website, Abdul-Salaam was an affordable option that was at least a little familiar with Porter’s coaching philosophy and brought the league’s experience to a point the crew needed to fill.

He will compete with Marlon Hairston and Waylon Francis for right back and left back time. Porter played against winger Derrick Etienne Jr. in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League in the round of 16 and said he could be an option the club holds in that position this season as well.

The crew has now occupied 28 of 30 roster positions.

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