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Columbus Crew captain Mensah ready for Major League Soccer title defence

The Black and Yellow captain looks ahead to their upcoming league season which starts on Sunday 

Columbus Crew captain Jonathan Mensah wants the club to brace themselves for a stern challenge when their 2021 Major League Soccer adventure kicks off on Sunday.

Four months after winning the MLS Cup, the Black and Yellow are set to begin their title defence with a home encounter against Philadelphia Union at Historic Crew Stadium.

December’s success was Crew’s second time winning the championship.

“I think teams will come at us really, really strong,” Mensah said ahead of the upcoming opener, Dispatch reported.

“We need to prepare for the best but expect the worst because teams will come at us really, really strong because people didn’t really know what we could do.

“We need to be strong mentally, physically and tactically.”

Last season was certainly special for Mensah, considering the cup success came in his first year as captain of the club.

“When such an honour and responsibility arises, I think you don’t need to hesitate. You just need to take the challenge and lead the team,” the 30-year-old continued.

“It was a responsibility that I needed a lot of support, and I actually got it from my teammates and my coaches and everyone around the team because I didn’t do it alone.

“I don’t know how I did that last year,” Mensah said. “It was one of the toughest years of my playing career, and I’ll thank my wife also for holding it down back in Ghana because it wasn’t easy.”

Mensah is in his fourth year with Crew, having joined the club in 2017 after leaving Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala.

He is no doubt among the most senior faces and most influential in the locker room.

“Between Darlington [Nagbe], Gyasi [Zandes] and Jonah. Those are three really humble guys. [They] are always three very good players that lead the locker room that lead with their personality. That can’t be understated at all,” goalkeeper Evan Bush said.

Mensah, who won the 2009 Fifa U20 World Cup with Ghana, has previously also been on the books of South African club Free State Stars, French side Evian, Spanish outfit Granada and Italian fold Udinese.

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