The Columbus Crew announced several honors at the club’s annual team awards, held this year at Via Vecchery Winery in the Brewery District during “An Evening of Black & Gold” tonight. Federico Higuain was announced as the Crew’s 2013 Barbasol Most Valuable Player. As in previous seasons, Crew fans played an integral role in important team awards, including the nomination of the Fan of the Year honor and the Goal of the Year award.
FEDERICO HIGUAIN – BARBASOL MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
In his second season with the Crew and first full year in Black & Gold, Federico Higuain recorded a career-high 11 goals and nine assists as the club’s captain. The Argentine also contributed three game-winning goals, three game-winning assists and set a Crew record for penalty kick goals and attempts in a single season, capitalizing on six of eight attempts from the spot. A three-time nominee for the League’s AT&T Goal of the Week and winner for his Week 24 chipped goal against New York, the playmaker strung together a pair of multiple-match stretches in which he scored a goal or recorded an assist, including a four-match clip from June 22 through July 7. His performances made the Black & Gold a better team, as the Crew was 6-1-2 when he scored a goal and 5-1-2 when he provided an assist.
DOMINIC ODURO – BUDWEISER GOLDEN BOOT (13 GOALS)
In his first season with the Crew after joining Columbus via an offseason trade, Dominic Oduro wasted little time in securing the team lead for goal-scoring in 2013, finding the back of the net in the club’s opening match in a commanding 3-0 win at Chivas USA on March 2. His 13 goals and four assists are a career-high. A candidate for AT&T Goal of the Week four times this season, Oduro recorded five game-winning goals and added a game-winning helper to boot. Oduro solidified the honor for a blistering month of September in which he posted three goals and two assists en route to MLS Player of the Month honors. The Ghanaian scored in every month of the campaign and twice provided offense in the Crew’s match on October 19 at New England, blasting a top-shelf goal and later placing an assist for Aaron Schoenfeld’s first career tally. Entering the final week of the season, Oduro’s 13 goals are tied for fifth-most in MLS.
BERNARDO ANOR – OHIOHEALTH COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Bouncing back from season-ending ACL surgery in 2012, Bernardo Anor watched longtime Crew veteran Eddie Gaven’s 2013 season cut short with the same injury in May. Anor stepped into the midfield role and has earned single-season career highs in starts (18) while his total minutes (1,614) were more than his first two seasons combined. He’s third on the Crew in goals (four) and scored in back-to-back games during a critical three-game winning streak in September. The 25-year-old has started the last eight matches, including the first seven under Interim Head Coach Brian Bliss.
CHAD MARSHALL – DEFENDER OF THE YEAR
The two-time MLS Defender of the Year put in a strong season to anchor the Crew’s backline, posting 29 starts, the fourth consecutive year in which he has made 24 or more starts and the eighth time in his 10-year career with the Black & Gold. Despite missing four matches with a right hamstring strain, the veteran was a vital cog in the defensive unit throughout the season and his leadership was a continued presence. He became the first Crew player in club history to record 20,000 minutes in regular-season action during the match against Philadelphia on April 6 and later became the first Crew player to make 250 career appearances after a start at FC Dallas on September 29. He scored his first goal of the season in the comeback win against the then-Eastern Conference-leading Montreal Impact and also suffered a foul that led to Federico Higuain’s game-winning penalty kick against New York on August 10. Should Marshall start in the regular-season finale on Sunday against New England, the centerback will make his 250thcareer start, a feat celebrated in front of the home crowd at Crew Stadium.
BEN SPEAS – GOAL OF THE YEAR
In a fan-voted landslide, Ben Speas’ first career goal on March 23 earned Goal of the Year honors. The strike – which resulted in the game-winning tally in a road clash at D.C. United – earned instant popularity within the Crew faithful as the 22-year-old dedicated the goal to former teammate Kirk Urso. The relevancy of the tribute came at a symbolic time for Speas, always promising that he’d commemorate his first goal by honoring Urso, and doing so in the Nation’s Capital, the very place where the team learned of Urso’s untimely passing less than a year prior. The goal also stands as the first-ever recorded by a Crew Homegrown Player.
ERIC GEHRIG – KIRK URSO HEART AWARD
In his third season with the Crew, Eric Gehrig becomes the second player to receive this award after Kirk Urso was posthumously honored in the inaugural year of the special recognition. Voted by his teammates, Gehrig was chosen as the player that best exemplified the qualities in a teammate and became “the heart” in the Black & Gold’s locker room. When teammate Chad Marshall was out with a right hamstring strain, Gehrig made four consecutive starts at centerback in addition to serving as captain in the team’s Reserve League matches. Gehrig’s teammates voted to specifically call-out his abilities as a tireless worker, a leader and an enjoyable presence on the club, all characteristics that led to the original creation of the award in Urso’s legacy.
WIL TRAPP – BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
After returning to the Crew at the end of July following his role as captain of the United States Men’s Under-20 squad in the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup, rookie midfielder and Homegrown Player Wil Trapp made his Crew debut on July 7 and never looked back. The 20-year-old became the fourth Homegrown Player to start a match and Trapp led all players in passing percentage with an 86 percent completion rate and then started 15 consecutive League matches after being named Barbasol Man of the Match in his debut. Known for his defensive midfield abilities, the Gahanna, OH native also provided a perfect pass to Federico Higuain that led to an AT&T Goal of the Week winner on August 10. Trapp becomes the first Crew Soccer Academy product to win an award at the youth and senior team level.
MATT LAMPSON – HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR
MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Month for September, goalkeeper Matt Lampson has worked all season as the spokesperson for – and efforts with – the Central Ohio Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Chapter after the 24-year-old beat Stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma six years ago. His fundraising efforts yielded more than $14,500 for the annual Light The Night Walk, an event he co-chaired. His work with LLS’ Heroes program allowed Lampson to meet and mingle with patients after Crew home matches, earning the ‘keeper plenty of national attention. On the field, Lampson stepped-in for the injured Andy Gruenebaum on July 7 and earned his first career shutout before starting 13 matches and posting five clean sheets and matched his career-high of six saves three times.
MICHAEL MCCLOSEKY (U-15/16), TYLER KIDWELL (U-17/18) AND CONNOR KLEKOTA (U-19/20) – ADIDAS CREW PLAYER OF THE YEAR
The Under-15/16’s McCloskey was honored for his extreme commitment and work ethic. Coming off of a challenging injury, he played in every match for the U-15/16s last year and was a recognized leader, proving his ability and versatility by playing in a number of different spots on the field.
Kidwell of the U-17/18 squad was recognized for his consistency on the U-17/18s, a team that during the second half of the season in Spring 2013 became the hottest team in the country, posting an 11-1-3 record over the final 15 matches. Now a starter at The Ohio State University, Kidwell anchored a Crew backline that only allowed eight goals in the final 15 matches of the season.
Despite not making the Crew Soccer Academy squad as a freshman, Connor Klekota still traveled from Cleveland multiple times weekly to play and train with the Gold team before making CSA the next year. He was a starter the following year and is recognized this year for serving as captain during his senior year. Now a sophomore at number two-ranked Notre Dame, Klekota has now played in every match of the season for the unbeaten Irish.
TOM CHIATALAS – JIM NELSON FAN OF THE YEAR
Chiatalas is recognized for his efforts as a Crew fan and his efforts in the community at his place of employment, Allstate. He’s proactively recruited his associates to join him at Crew Stadium, growing his season-ticket impact from two season tickets to 13 over the past few seasons after joining in 2011. The award, which honors the Crew fan that made an impact on others and a positive example for other supporters of the Black & Gold.