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Columbus Crew the new haven for Ghanaian players


Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit Columbus Crew SC is gradually becoming a haven for Ghanaian players. First, it was Black Stars defender Harrison Afful whose nearly two seasons with the Crew can be described as a huge success.

Then last two weeks, young defender Alhassan Lalas Abubakar joined Columbus Crew as the fifth overall pick during the 2017 SuperDraft.

Columbus Crew head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter was hopeful that Lalas Abubakar will complement Ghanaian compatriots Harrison Afful and Jonathan Mensah in defense. Mensah, who is currently on international duty with the Black Stars together with Afful, joined the Crew early January.

The former Anzhi Makhachkala star will join a growing number of Ghanaians in the MLS when the 2017 season commences in March.

The 26-year-old Mensah was expected to play alongside Ghanaian teammate Afful in the heart of Columbus Crew SC’s defense after the Columbus outfit signed him on as a Designated Player. Then, came Lalas Abubakar, another Ghanaian defender.

Columbus Crew's love story with Ghanaians did not end there.

The Crew on Tuesday announced that the club has acquired another Ghanaian midfielder Mohammed Abu as a Special Discovery Player.

Abu, 25, most recently played for Stromsgodset IF in Norway’s topflight. He will officially be added to the Black & Gold roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P-1 Visa. Abu will occupy an international spot on the Black & Gold roster.

The 25-year-old midfielder has made 163 professional appearances (154 starts) across all competitions in Spain, France and Norway, scoring five goals and providing three assists. His previous experience includes playing for Stromsgodset IF in Norway’s Eliteserien, spending time in France’s First Division — Ligue 1 — with FC Lorient and featuring for Rayo Vallecano in La Liga — Spain’s topflight.

The Ghanaian player also has experience in UEFA Champions League Qualifiers and UEFA Europa League Qualifiers. In 2011, while with Stromsgodset IF, he played against Atletico Madrid for 180 minutes over the course of two legs in an UEFA Europa League Qualifier.

“Mohammed is a talented, technical player that we believe will fit well into our system and style of play,” said Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “Across his experience in Norway, France and Spain, we believe that a combination of his experience, skillset and character will be a good fit for Crew SC. We are glad to have him in Columbus and it is certainly an added bonus that he is familiar with the area as his wife has lived in Central Ohio.”

In all, Abu made 152 appearances (144 starts), scored five goals and contributed three assists over the course of six seasons with Stromsgodset IF. The midfielder was originally signed by Manchester City in August of 2010, before being sent on loan to Stromsgodset IF.

He made his debut with the Eliteserien team in a home match against Molde FK in September of that year. That same season, Abu helped Stromsgodset IF win the Norwegian Football Cup, Norway’s Domestic Cup. From 2010-2012, Abu played alongside current Crew SC teammate Ola Kamara.
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