Crew signs defender Ben Sweat and midfielder Kingsley "Fifi" Baiden
COLUMBUS – The Columbus Crew today announced that it has signed a pair of 2014 MLS SuperDraft selections: defender Ben Sweat and midfielder Kingsley “Fifi” Baiden. Sweat (24th overall) and Baiden (42nd overall). Both players are added to the Crew’s roster immediately. Per club and MLS policy, additional terms of the deals were not disclosed.
"They are both good additions to our roster. We thought highly of both Ben and Fifi at the MLS Combine and we were lucky enough to get them as SuperDraft picks," said Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. "I think they're both guys that could potentially contribute as soon as this year."
A 6-foot-2, 175 pound defender, Sweat is the University of South Florida’s all-time leader in appearances with 78 during his four-year college career. In his freshmen season, he helped anchor a backline that posted 10 shutouts. Following a two-goal season as a sophomore (2012), he was second on the team in assists in 2011, recording a career-high five helpers while also guiding the Bulls’ defense to seven shutouts. During his final season, the Palm Harbor, Fla. native started all 21 games and his side collectively posted eight shutouts en route to Sweat’s first team All-America Conference honors.
"Ben's big and strong. He has good endurance and a great cross,” said Berhalter. “He's a good one-v-one defender and I think he has a good basis on which to build."
Baiden (pronounced: “Fee-fee” “BAY-den”), a holding midfielder, recorded two goals and four assists in 76 games played – including 63 starts – during his college career at University of California Santa Barbara. A 2013 preseason All-American, Baiden was named to the All-Big West Second Team following his senior season and was the only holding midfielder listed in Top Drawer Soccer’s list of top 10 midfielders in the country. As a junior, Baiden earned All-Big West First Team honors for his defensive play in the UCSB midfield.
"Fifi's fearless. He's small in stature but he has a big heart and he works tremendously hard,” continued Berhalter. “He's extremely fit, he's strong, and he's very good technically so he fits exactly what we're looking for at that position.”
MLS clubs are required to be capped at 30 players by the League’s roster compliance day of March 1, 2014.
Before the Crew begins the 2014 season at D.C. United on Saturday, March 8, the team continues its preseason preparations. For more information on catching the Black & Gold in 2014 – visit TheCrew.com/tickets. Single-match tickets for all Crew regular-season home games in 2014 are now on sale. Prices range from $23 to $50 for advanced purchases.
TRANSACTIONS: Crew signs 2014 SuperDraft selections: defender Ben Sweat and midfielder Kingsley “Fifi” Baiden.
Name: Ben Sweat
Born: September 4, 1991 in Palm Harbor, Fla.
Hometown: Palm Harbor, Fla.
Citizenship: United States
Acquired: Selected in the First Round (14th overall) of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft; signed on February 14, 2014
Previous Experience: University of South Florida (2010-2013)
Name: Kingsley “Fifi” Baiden