COLUMBUS — The Columbus Crew announced they have sold centerback Lalas Abubakar to the Colorado Rapids for $400,000 in General Allocation Money and an international roster spot Wednesday. Abubakar spent most of the 2019 season on loan with Colorado, and the team made it a top priority in the offseason to bring him back.
Earlier in the offseason, Crew general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said he expected Abubakar back for the 2020 season. However, the Ghanaian was not a pivotal part of the club’s plans for the upcoming year, and after lengthy negotiations, the deal was made final. Columbus has Jonathan Mensah, Josh Williams and Aboubacar Keita on the roster at the centerback position.
Abubakar is the third centerback to depart the team, following the transfer of Gaston Sauro and former homegrown player Alex Crognale, who’s option was not picked up. The team is looking to add another central defender as a depth piece before the 2020 season.
“We believe that this transaction puts us in a position to build and strengthen our roster for the 2020 MLS season,” Bezbatchenko said in a statement. “We want to thank Lalas for his contributions to Columbus Crew SC during his three seasons with the club and we wish him the best in the next stage of his career.”
Abubakar was the fifth overall pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft out of the University of Dayton. His strong play and personality made him a fan favorite during his time with the Crew and Rapids.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Lalas back,” Colorado Rapids executive vice president and general manager Pádraig Smith said in a statement. “Since joining us last year, Lalas has been an integral part of our team and has established himself as a top defender in MLS. We’re excited to have him with us from the start next year and build on the exceptional season he had in 2019.”