The 31-year-old, who also played for Bayer Leverkusen, was released by Nuremberg at the end of last season.
Columbus manager Gregg Berhalter is quoted as saying by NBC Sports: "We think Pogatetz is a great addition to the roster.
"A highly-experienced defender, captain of his national team - over 60 caps for Austria – in the Bundesliga, Premier League, you name it. Tons of experience."
Pogatetez made 123 appearances for Middlesbrough between 2005 and 2010.