The reigning MLS NEXT Pro champions now have a jersey sponsor for the 2023 season. The Columbus Crew announced on Wednesday that the team has expanded its partnership with OhioHealth, which will now see the club’s official healthcare provider become the first-ever jersey sponsor for the reserve team, Columbus Crew 2. OhioHealth has been a partner of the Black & Gold since 1997.
“We are excited to announce this addition to our long-standing partnership with OhioHealth,” said Columbus Crew president of business operations Kristin Bernert in the release announcing the sponorship. “OhioHealth has been an integral part of the Black & Gold fabric since the Club’s inception, and we are proud to continue this relationship with an organization that like the Crew, is dedicated to positively impacting our community. Today marks an exciting moment in our shared history and we are looking forward to seeing Crew 2 begin their title defense in the new kits when the MLS NEXT Pro season kicks off on March 26.”
Crew 2’s primary and secondary jerseys, as well as the team’s training gear, will be emblazoned with the OhioHealth logo going forward. Since June 2021, the OhioHealth Performance Center has functioned as the cutting-edge hub for all of the Crew’s soccer operations, spanning both the first team and the academy.
OhioHealth, a not-for-profit healthcare outreach affiliated with the United Methodist Church, is widely acknowledged nationally and has its headquarters in Columbus, Ohio.
Crew 2, a developmental team that emphasizes community engagement, forms an integral part of the Black & Gold player pathway that starts with the Crew Academy and culminates with the Crew’s first team. Several players involved with Crew 2 last season have already made the step up to the first team and more hope to follow in their footsteps.
Goalkeeper Patrick Schulte and defender Phil Quinton made their MLS debuts in the Black & Gold’s season-opening 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Union. Others with previous MLS experience have become regular fixtures in the first team, such as defender Mohamed Farsi, who has played the full 90 minutes in Columbus’ three previous matches, and forward Jacen Russell-Rowe, the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season’s Golden Boot winner, who has made two substitute appearances for the Black & Gold this season.
In the first-ever MLS NEXT Pro season, Crew 2 clinched the best regular-season record and was crowned inaugural MLS NEXT Pro Cup champions following a decisive 4-1 win against St. Louis CITY SC 2 on Oct. 8, 2022. The league has expanded from 20 to 27 teams since its inaugural 2022 season and now features seven MLS-affiliated newcomers: Atlanta United 2, Austin FC II, Crown Legacy FC (Charlotte FC), Huntsville City FC (Nashville SC), LA Galaxy II, Los Angeles Football Club 2 and New York Red Bulls II.
Crew 2’s quest to defend the team’s MLS NEXT Pro title begins on Sunday, March 26 as they face New York Red Bulls II away from home. Historic Crew Stadium will host Crew 2’s home opener against New England Revolution II on Sunday, April 16. The Crew 2 season schedule can be found here.