After a decorated four-year career at the University of Akron, Chad Barson officially took the next step in his career by signing a Homegrown deal with the Crew on Thursday morning. Barson joins the Black & Gold following decorated tenure with the Zips and success with the Crew Soccer Academy.
While this is his first contract, Crew Technical Director Brian Bliss says Barson has been a professional since he began playing for the Crew Soccer Academy at age 16.
"He's been a pro, so to speak, since he was 16," Bliss said of the new signing. "He's got the right mentality. He's got the work ethic. He's coachable. He's flexible in what you ask him to do on the field. I think you'll see that he can play in a couple of different spots. He's been successful, I think that speaks volumes to why Caleb Porter made him team captain after his sophomore year."
A natural leader in central defense, Barson served as the Zips' team captain in his junior and senior seasons. As a sophomore, the defender led Akron in minutes played during its 2010 NCAA Championship-winning season on a roster that featured nine players that have been on MLS rosters since.
Barson hopes his leadership can carry over into his professional career.
"You have to be yourself," Barson said on Thursday. "You can't be shy. As a rookie, you're stepping into uncharted territory and just because you're the young guy or the new guy, it doesn't matter how long you've been around. Obviously guys that have been around have more say, but you still need to be able to lead, to talk and to organize guys because the position I play, you see the whole game from where you play."
Barson is the fifth Homegrown signing in Crew history, joining Aaron Horton, Matt Lampson, Ben Speas and most recently Wil Trapp in the first group of players that have made the jump from the Academy to the First Team. Just a few years into its existence, the Crew Soccer Academy has already become pathway to the pros.
"It's more proof of our success in youth development," Bliss said. "You have proof when you have two Homegrowns, but now that we're up to five. It really is more affirmation that what we're doing at the youth level is paying dividends."