From the moment he was selected by the Black & Gold on Thursday afternoon, Ryan Finley was overwhelmed by the love he felt from the 100+ Crew supporters who made the trip to Indianapolis for the SuperDraft.
"I don't know if I heard my name louder over the microphone or the Crew fans chanting," Finley said with an ear-to-ear grin. "It was a special moment to be called with the fans there. Obviously, it's a really special moment and an honor to be selected by the Columbus Crew."
"[The Crew] has a great fan base," he continued. "The fans coming out to show their support for the team really shows what MLS has come to. It makes a player really excited and it makes the player want to play in front of the home fans. I'm really looking forward to playing in front of them."
The striker comes to the Crew following four seasons of collegiate soccer where he scored 56 goals and provided 14 assists at Notre Dame and Duke. Selecting Finley provides much-needed depth to the Black & Gold's front line behind striker Jairo Arrieta.
"We thought we were going to have a selection of a few good forwards in the number nine spot," Crew President and General Manager Mark McCullers said. "That's where we thought the strength of this class is and we needed depth at forward. The Draft set-up nicely for us and Ryan was available at number nine. He's a kid with a great goal-scoring record."
"[Finley] scores goals," Head Coach Robert Warzycha added. "Whether he's starting the game or on the bench, it doesn't matter. He can change a game for you."
Finley hopes to make an immediate impact with the Crew while also learning from the club's potent strike duo of Arrieta and 2012 MLS Newcomer of the Year Federico Higuaín.
"I feel really well prepared," Finley explained. "I'm really looking forward to learning from [Arrieta]. Anytime you can be an understudy to a foreign international, you're in a great spot. Obviously, it's a great opportunity for me to learn and improve."
"The Crew has a special number 10 player in Higuaín. I think my thing is that I don't need to touch the ball 100 times each game. I just make runs, work hard in the box and hopefully finish some chances. That's my game."
Finley will return home to Lumberton, New Jersey before joining the Crew for preseason training.