The Columbus Crew announced today that it has signed UNC forward and Crew Soccer Academy product Ben Speas to a multi-year contract as a Homegrown Player. Per club and league policy, no further terms of the deal were disclosed.
A native of Stow and graduate of Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, Speas began his college career at the University of Akron where he appeared in 50 matches and notched four goals and six assists, helping the Zips reach the NCAA Men’s College Cup final in 2009 and win the national title in 2010.
In 2011 Speas transferred to the University of North Carolina where he appeared in 26 matches and tallied seven goals and 10 assists. He capped a dream season by scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 victory over UNC-Charlotte in the 2011 NCAA Men’s College Cup final. For his efforts, he was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Offensive Player and was later named the 2011 College Player of the Year by Soccer America.
"I can’t wait to finally put on the Black & Gold," Speas said. "I've been going to Crew games since I was eight years old and have been able to see most of my coaches play at Crew Stadium, so this is a dream come true."
The 5-8, 155-pound Speas was part of three youth national championships with the Crew, the 2010 U-19 USYS McGuire Cup title and back-to-back USL Super-20 titles in 2010 and 2011. He was also on the 2008 Crew Soccer Academy U-17/18 team that finished third at the Development Academy National Finals. Speas is also a U.S. national youth team veteran, having competed at the U-20, U-18 and U-17 levels.
"Ben is a talented young player who we have had the good fortune to work with and watch watch develop over the last four years," said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha. "He has the ability to get out of tight spaces quickly, combines well with others and has good vision. We are proud that he has earned the opportunity to progress to the professional level."
Speas becomes the club’s third Homegrown Player, joining forward Aaron Horton and goalkeeper Matt Lampson. A club may sign a player to his first professional contract without subjecting him to the MLS SuperDraft if the player has trained for at least one year in the club’s youth development program and has met league criteria. Players joining MLS through this mechanism are known as Homegrown Players. There is no limit to the number of Homegrown Players a club may sign in a given year.
Born: Jan. 17, 1991 (Stow, Ohio)
Hometown: Stow, Ohio
Citizenship: United States
2011 Team: North Carolina (NCAA)
How Acquired: Signed on Jan. 11, 2012
Columbus Crew (MLS) – Signed F Ben Speas as a Homegrown Player.