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Crew Roster Begins to Take Shape

The Columbus Crew announced today that it has exercised the contract options on 14 players from its 2013 roster, while four others were already under contract for next season, giving the club a roster that currently features 18 players.

The Crew picked-up the options of goalkeepers Matt Lampson and Daniel Withrow; defenders Chad Barson, Eric Gehrig and Tyson Wahl; midfielders Bernardo Anor, Ethan Finlay, Kevan George, Justin Meram, Shawn Sloan, Ben Speas and Tony Tchani; and forwards Ryan Finley and Aaron Schoenfeld.

The Black & Gold simultaneously announced that it has declined the contract options of defenders Drew Beckie, Glauber, Kyle Hyland; defender/midfielder Danny O’Rourke; midfielder Konrad Warzycha; and forward Jairo Arrieta. Contract options were also declined on midfielder Matias Sanchez and forward Aaron Horton, a move that was previously announced in October. Both players are eligible for next week’s MLS Waiver Draft, taking place on Monday, November 25.

“The process of building our 2014 roster is now underway,” said Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “Unfortunately, as part of that process difficult decisions are required. While we’ve declined options on certain players, we will continue conversations with those individuals to potentially return to the club next season. We look forward to shaping the team in the weeks ahead of preseason training camp.”

O’Rourke is eligible for the MLS Re-Entry Process, which begins after MLS Cup on December 7. A full list of players eligible for the Re-Entry Process will be announced by MLS at a later date.

Goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum, forward Dominic Oduro and defender Josh Williams are out of contract. The Crew is currently in discussions with all three players, and future roster announcements will be made in the coming weeks.

The Crew’s current roster follows:

Goalkeepers (2): Matt Lampson, Daniel Withrow

Defenders (5): Chad Barson, Eric Gehrig, Chad Marshall, Agustin Viana, Tyson Wahl

Midfielders (8): Bernardo Anor, Ethan Finlay, Kevan George, Justin Meram, Shawn Sloan, Ben Speas, Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp

Forwards (3): Federico Higuain, Ryan Finley, Aaron Schoenfeld

Crew Falls 3-0 at Sporting Kansas City

Facing its third MLS match in eight days, the Columbus Crew (9-14-5, 32 points) fell 3-0 to Eastern Conference rival Sporting Kansas City (13-9-6, 45 points) at Sporting Park on Saturday evening.

The loss is the first for the Black & Gold under Interim Head Coach Brian Bliss following Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo. Sporting got off to a fast start in the match and never looked back, as Wil Trapp was whistled for a foul inside the Crew’s area in the sixth minute, leading to a Claudio Bieler goal from the penalty spot. Bieler assisted on a Soony Saad strike in the 41st minute, and C.J. Sapong capped the scoring with a 55th-minute header.

“We never want to use excuses,” Crew defender Chad Barson stated. “Kansas City was just the better team on the night. Even when they are missing guys they can plug guys in and they can still have the same philosophy and style. They showed tonight that they deserved to win.”

The Black & Gold return to action with a trip to Montreal to face the Impact on Saturday, September 14 (2:00 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio) in the third and final regular-season meetings between the two teams this year.

Crew Earn 1-1 Draw with Houston

The entire Columbus Crew organization has finally breathed a sigh of relief.

Photo Credit: Ric Kruszynski/

Federico Higuain’s 69th minute penalty conversion against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday ended a home MLS goalless streak for Columbus that lasted 294 minutes and spanned four matches. The 1-1 draw was also the first time that Columbus has earned a point at home since late April against D.C. United.

The penalty came when Dynamo striker Andrew Driver took down Crew left back Chad Barson in the area after an extended period of pressure from Columbus. The captain, Higuain, caught Hall moving early and buried the ball in the back of the net for the equalizer.

The Argentinian almost earned his team the victory when his 74th minute shot from 20 yards ricocheted off the post and midfielder Justin Meram missed the open net on the rebound.

Overall it was a disappointing match offensively for Columbus, who continued their troubling pattern of being unable to finish chances despite being dominant on the offensive end of the pitch.

Despite registering four shots on goal in the first half to Houston’s one the Crew found themselves down 1-0 heading into the dressing rooms.

Houston’s goal seemingly came from nothing in the 31st when defender Kofi Sarkodie beat Columbus down the right and played a cross in to Warren Creavalle, who made a wonderful touch to beat Gruenebaum for the opening goal.

Columbus has been consistently poor at home this season, only earning six points in six matches at Crew Stadium this season. Still the Crew remains close to the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, their 17 points just two back of the Philadelphia Union.

Eddie Gaven’s absence after his midweek injury against the Dayton Dutch Lions was noticed, with Justin Meram struggling to consistently make the offensive impact that the Crew’s bearded midfielder often made.

Subside Sports Man of the Match: Federico Higuain, Columbus Crew

On an overall poor night by the Columbus midfield, Higuain reminded us why he is Columbus’ best player. His play in the midfield kept the ball in the Crew’s attacking half for a majority of the night and he displayed his usual skill delivering set pieces. His goal was the most important moment of the match for Columbus, earning them the point, and he almost earned the squad all three points on multiple occasions. Honorable mention goes to Jairo Arrieta who was outstanding coming back from international duty and was consistently threatening up front.

Barson Goes Homegrown with Crew

The Columbus Crew announced on Thursday it has agreed to a Homegrown contract with Lewis Center native and University of Akron standout Chad Barson. Per Major League Soccer and club policy, details of the contract were not disclosed.

Barson’s signature makes him the fifth Homegrown player in club history after his Akron teammate Wil Trapp signed with the Black & Gold last month. The Lewis Center native recently graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Akron with a 3.99 Grade Point Average after earning First Team NSCAA All-American honors. Barson started and appeared in 93 out of 95 games during his college career, tying Anthony Ampaipitakwong’s program record in matches played. The three-time All-MAC First Team defender played a team-high 2,254 minutes during the Zips 2010 NCAA Championship-winning season on a team that featured eight players who were on MLS rosters in 2012.

“Chad is a strong addition to our team and a player that we’ve had our eye on for some time,” said Crew Technical Director Brian Bliss.” “We’re obviously familiar with his abilities from our Youth system, and he enjoyed a successful career at the University of Akron. Chad will make a fine pro and we look forward to his contributions.”

In his time with the Crew Youth Program, Barson anchored the Black & Gold backline to the 2010 USYS U-19 and 2010 USL Super-20 League national championships. The Lewis Center native also saw time with the United States U-15, U-17 and U-18 National Teams while leading the Crew Soccer Academy to the U-18 U.S. Soccer Development Academy National Final.

Barson will join the Black & Gold on January 17 when the team reconvenes for preseason training in Columbus.

Akron Men’s Soccer Sets Program High With Four On All-America Team

After leading the Zips back to the NCAA’s Round of 16 for the fifth consecutive season, four members of The University of Akron men’s soccer program earned All-American recognition from the National Soccer Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Friday.

Seniors Chad Barson and Scott Caldwell each secured a spot on the 11-man First Team. It is the second straight year Caldwell, the 2012 MAC Player of the Year and Hermann Trophy semifinalist, has earned All-American honors from the NSCAA after garnering Third Team status a year ago.

Fellow senior David Meves, who became the NCAA’s all-time leader for shutouts (54) and minutes played (8,608) this fall, picked up Second team honors while sophomore Wil Trapp was named to the Third Team.

The Zips’ four honorees are the most recorded in a single season in program history. In all, it is the fifth straight year Akron has landed multiple players on the esteemed list, upping its total to 14 NSCAA All-American honors in the past seven seasons alone.

Caldwell paced the Zips attack with 28 points, coming on a career-high nine goals – including three game-winners – and 10 assists in 2012. The native of Braintree, Mass., was also one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award.
As the veteran leader on the Zips’ vaunted back line, Barson started all but two games last fall and directed a unit that posted the second-best goals-against-average in the country (0.35) while limiting opponents to one or fewer goal in all but one contest. Meanwhile, Meves turned in perhaps his best season in an Akron uniform, recording 16 shutouts – including eight in a row from Sept. 14 to Oct. 16 – and finishing second in the nation with a saves percentage of .869.
Trapp, who was the No. 1-ranked freshman in the country according to Top Drawer Soccer a year ago, started all 22 games at holding midfield for the Zips. The Ohio native finished with one goal and three assists while playing a critical role in the Akron attack.

As a team, the Zips finished the 2012 campaign with a record of 18-1-3 and swept the MAC’s regular season and tournament championships. UA entered the postseason as the nation’s consensus No. 1 team in the country and advanced to the Third Round of the NCAA Tournament where it was defeated in a penalty kick shootout by Creighton.