The Columbus Crew today announced that it has signed midfielder Ben Swanson as a Homegrown Player. Swanson’s career with the Black & Gold started at age 8 in the Crew Juniors program, continued through the Academy levels and he now joins the First Team as the youngest Crew Homegrown Player signed and the longest-tenured Crew Youth player in organization history. Per club and MLS policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Swanson will be available for selection when he is officially added to the roster on January 1, 2015.
Swanson formally signed his professional contract at a special Crew Youth event on Thursday, October 16 at Thompson Park in front of Crew Juniors’ Under-9 Gold Boys East squad, the same age club with which Swanson began his Crew Youth career.
“Ben is another player from our youth system with substantial international experience with U.S. Soccer and has represented Columbus and our Academy globally,” said Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “He’s a player with a bright future, and at just 17 years old, we’re looking forward to developing Ben further in our possession-based system. Ben is a product of a number of solid youth clubs and coaches over the years here in Columbus and this signing is another example of our region’s strength in player development.”
Swanson is a product of the strong soccer community in Columbus. He began his youth soccer career at the Grove City Soccer Program from age six to eight. At eight years old, Swanson tried out for Crew Juniors in spring 2006 en route to becoming the longest-tenured player in the Crew Youth programs. He split time as a young player between Crew Juniors and the elite youth club Team Ohio before graduating to the Crew Soccer Academy in 2010. Swanson featured for the U-15/16 and U-17/18 Crew Soccer Academy teams that participate in U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy program, earning an invitation to U.S. Soccer’s Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida in 2012 and multiple call-ups to U.S. Soccer’s youth national teams.
Most recently, Swanson was a member of the Crew Soccer Academy's U-17/18 side, which began its season on September 6. Swanson began training regularly with the Crew First Team over the last six weeks, practicing alongside fellow Crew Soccer Academy products on the Black & Gold's roster, including: Chad Barson, Ross Friedman, Matt Lampson, Ben Speas, Wil Trapp, Matt Walker and Matt Wiet.
“We are extremely proud of Ben and excited about the opportunities that he has in front of him,” said Andrew Arthurs, the Crew’s Senior Vice President of Soccer Business Development and Executive Director of Crew Juniors. “In addition to being an exceptional talent as one of the top U-18 players in the country, he is also a humble, well-rounded person who comes from a great family. I have no doubt that he recognizes the commitment, patience and effort that it will take for him to stay on this great path. To be able to sign a player that has been involved in our youth system since he was eight years old is a great sign that our model works and plays a critical role in the development of both the person and the player. We wish him all the best as he begins his professional career.”
As one of Crew Youth’s most high-profile and successful players ever, Swanson particularly received exposure at the international level. As a consensus top-five recruit in the high school class of 2016, the 17-year-old has represented United States' youth teams on several occasions, including wearing the captain's armband for the U-18 team in a friendly against Canada in April at the National Training Center in Carson, California.
This summer, Swanson was called-in for U-18 National Team duty for both the 20th Lisbon International Tournament in Lisbon, Portugal and for the 21st International Tournament of Vaclav Jezek in Zlin, Czech Republic. Swanson was an active contributor in both tournaments, including receiving a starting nod in the championship match of the Vaclav Jezek Tournament against Ukraine, helping the United States on to a 1-0 win and the tournament title. The Vaclav Jezek Tournament represented the 26th all-time international call-up for Swanson across all levels.
TRANSACTION: Crew signs Homegrown Player Ben Swanson. Swanson will be available for selection when he is officially added to the roster on January 1, 2015.
Name: Ben Swanson
Born: July 18, 1997 in Grove City, Ohio
Hometown: Grove City, Ohio
Citizenship: United States
Acquired: Signed as a Homegrown Player on October 16, 2014, and will be added to the roster on January 1, 2015.