Age at MLS Cup: 30
Hometown: Puerto Limon, Costa Rica
ALL COMPETITIONS IN 2020:
Left back Waylon Francis was a hugely important member of the Crew’s 2015 Eastern Conference championship team, running up and down the flank and delivering lethal crosses to the tune of seven assists that year. He briefly went to Seattle for the 2018 season, but came back to Columbus in 2019. His 2020 season was limited by injuries and the stellar performances of starter Milton Valenzuela, but he was on the field at the final whistle of MLS Cup 2020, thereby finishing the quest he came oh so close to fulfilling in 2015. It was a special and well-deserved moment for Waylon to be on the field when the Crew’s title became official.
THROUGH JOSH’S EYES
“Waylon is a guy I have been with for a long time. He kind of had a rough year this year with injuries, and then Milton had a great year, so he was always trying to fight back. He could be a starter on so many teams in this league. He’s an absolute ball of muscle. He’s one in training where you know if you are in the starting team and have to go against him, he’s always a problem. It’s always like, ‘God, this guy’s killing us.’ So he had a tough year, but near the end, he made it really hard on Caleb for sure. Caleb used him in certain situations to get him some games and he played really well.
“He’s a guy in the locker room that everyone is usually laughing with. If he’s not making a joke, he’s saying something to loosen everyone up. He loves Costa Rica and we always joke with him that he owns a bunch of properties in Costa Rica. We’re saying he’s selling property or using his bonuses to buy more property and he’s going to take over the whole country as a real estate mogul.
“He’s just a good guy to be around because he’s always full of laughter, but then he goes to battle on the field. And if his name is chosen at left back, I feel just the same with him out there. He’s a great warrior and a winner and he deserved to be out on the field at the end of MLS Cup. Waylon earned the right to be on the field. He was absolutely balling in practice. Caleb isn’t going to throw someone in there just to throw them in. Caleb threw him in there because he knew he would make a positive contribution. I remember he made a hustle play into the corner to try and draw a foul and then sprinting back on defense. He’s got this wild run to him. I always joke with him that his right arm and his right leg move at the same time instead of the opposite.
“I think MLS Cup meant a lot to Waylon because he lost the final in Columbus in 2015 and then he later went to Seattle and I don’t think he had the greatest time in Seattle. I think he thought he should have been playing. I think he used that time in Seattle as a positive light and he feels a little hard done by Seattle. I don’t think he was emotional, but I think he was fired up. He really wanted to beat them.
“Like I said, he was injured for the most of the year and he had a rough go of it this year, so the way he battled back and then contributed all the way to the last game, I think that says a lot about him and his character. He would just fight to get on the field and fight to get into a position where he can contribute. To me, that’s what our team is all about.”
[NOTE: To see a clickable list of earlier installments of this Josh Williams series or other MLS Cup related posts, please click HERE.]
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