SJ Earthquakes trade for Jonathan Mensah after Nathan ACL injury

One day after losing a top defender to a lengthy injury, the Earthquakes made a trade for his replacement.

San Jose acquired Jonathan Mensah from the Columbus Crew in exchange for up to $500,000 in general allocation money, with $200,000 of it guaranteed.

The trade for Mensah, 32, comes one day after the Quakes announced that Nathan, a 27-year-old Brazilian, would be out “indefinitely” with an ACL injury in his right knee.

“Nathan’s unfortunate injury left a significant hole at a precarious time in our preseason that we didn’t hesitate to address quickly,” Earthquakes general manager Chris Leitch said in a statement. “We knew we needed to bring in a player of significant quality and experience to compete at the highest level in MLS. We feel very fortunate and excited to bring in Jonathan, who has been named MLS Best XI, has captained an MLS Cup-winning side, and who knows what it takes to perform and be a leader for a competitive team in MLS.

“His leadership and success in Major League Soccer will be invaluable to our squad as we approach the 2023 regular season and his qualities as a human being will positively impact our organization and community.”

Mensah has been the captain for the Crew since the 2020 season and helped lead the Crew to that season’s MLS Cup, which included being named to the MLS’ Best XI that year. In his six years with Columbus, he’s played in 175 matches, scoring two goals and one assist.

Nathan, a consistent starter in defense for the Quakes, injured the ACL in his right knee in Saturday’s preseason match against Monterey Bay F.C. of the USL. While the Quakes only said the defender will be out “indefinitely,” they did say he will undergo surgery in the coming weeks.

It’s the second straight year with a knee injury for the 27-year-old Brazilian, who tore the meniscus in his left knee last February. He returned from that surgery after six weeks to play in 26 matches for the Quakes in 2022, scoring three goals.

San Jose is sending Columbus $200,000 in general allocation money ($100,000 for each of the next two seasons) and could send an additional $300,000 if they keep Mensah beyond this season ($150,000 per year in 2024 and 2025).

While Mensah is from Ghana, he has obtained his green card and won’t take up an international slot on the roster. San Jose also announced on Friday that 2022 first round pick Ousseni Bouda, 22, obtained his green card, meaning he, too, doesn’t need an international roster slot, leaving San Jose with seven of their eight international slots filled entering the 2023 season.

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