COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Columbus Crew made an acquisition on the eve of its 2023 home debut.

Joining the team is center back Gustavo Vallecilla, who played in 12 games, starting seven, for the Colorado Rapids in 2022. In return for Vallecilla, the Crew will pay $175,000 in General Allocation Money. The deal is a season-long loan for this season only, but the Crew will have the option to acquire Vallecilla on a permanent basis at the end of the loan period.

Vallecilla joined the Rapids last season in a trade with FC Cincinnati, where he played for one season in 2021 in which he scored two goals while starting 25 games. He was acquired three weeks after Columbus traded seven-year veteran Jonathan Mensah, who started in 156 out of 160 games played in his first six seasons with the Crew.

Colorado Rapids defender Gustavo Vallecilla (24) celebrates a team goal against the Portland Timbers during the second half of an MLS soccer match Saturday, April 30, 2022, in Commerce City, Colo. (AP Photo/ Jack Dempsey)

“Gustavo is a promising young center back and we are excited to welcome him to the Black & Gold,” said Columbus Crew President & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Gustavo provides depth and a different profile along the back line, and we know his addition will strengthen our defensive corps as he competes for minutes.” 

Vallecilla, of Esmeraldas, Ecuador, previously played for Barcelona SC in 2020, Aucas (2019-21) and Ecuadorian club Deportivo Cuena (2016-18).

The Crew hosts D.C. United in their home opener at Field, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. For ticket information, visit the Crew’s website.