The MLS Cup Playoff-bound Columbus Crew today announced that it has signed high-scoring American midfielder Ethan Finlay to a contract extension. After scoring his first career goal on May 17 of the 2014 season, Finlay has quickly become one of the top scoring Americans in Major League Soccer. Finlay has averaged a goal from the run of play every 166 minutes – or just under two full matches -- trailing only Seattle’s Clint Dempsey and the LA Galaxy’s Gyasi Zardes in that category. Per Major League Soccer and club policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Finlay also shares the lead in goals (11) and assists (7) this year for the Columbus Crew. The third-year Crew player has directly factored in more than one third of the Crew’s goals in 2014 after recording his first career goal and first career assist this season.
“Ethan’s progression this year has been remarkable,” said Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “His commitment to learn our system, work his way into our gameday roster and then excel when given a starting role is exactly the type of character that we want at our club. He has been one of the key reasons for club’s return to the MLS Cup Playoffs and we look forward to his bright future with the club.”
All told, Finlay has provided either a goal or an assist in 15 of his last 22 appearances. With one regular-season match remaining, the Crew has lost just once this year in the 11 matches in which Finlay has found the back of the net.
After being held goalless in his first 40 MLS appearances, the winger has notched his career total of 11 goals and seven assists over his last 22 appearances with the Crew this season. Following the 2014 FIFA World Cup break, Finlay became a mainstay in the Crew lineup, starting each of the last 17 matches since an Independence Day clash at Colorado. Of late, Finlay has scored in four consecutive matches dating back to September 27, helping the Black & Gold clinched their first MLS Cup Playoff berth since 2011.
In the midst of his third campaign in Black & Gold, Finlay has enjoyed a breakout season. Finlay's torrid stretch began with his first-career professional goal on May 17 at Portland. Finlay followed that up with a second goal in the Black & Gold's next match, at home on May 24 against Chicago. He registered his first professional assist in the club's next match, on May 31 at Toronto. On August 16 versus the LA Galaxy, Finlay notched a goal and an assist, the first occurrence where the wide midfielder factored into two goals in the same match.
Finlay upped that career-best by scoring once and notching two assists last weekend on October 19 on the road against the Red Bulls, helping the Crew get just its second win at New York since 2004 and snapping New York’s nine-game home unbeaten streak in the process.
Since his first career goal on May 17, the winger is tied for seventh in League goal scoring. Finlay is also one of two Americans under the age of 25 to notch 11 or more goals in MLS this season, joining Zardes in LA (16 goals).
Earlier this month, Finlay also became the sixth player under the age of 25 in Crew history to notch double-digit goals in a single season, joining Pete Marino, Brian McBride, Stern John, Jeff Cunningham and Edson Buddle on the exclusive list.
TRANSACTION: Crew signs midfielder Ethan Finlay to a contract extension.
Name: Ethan Finlay
Born: August 6, 1990 in Duluth, Minnesota
Hometown: Marshfield, Wisconsin
Citizenship: United States
Acquired: Drafted by the Crew on January 12, 2012, signed a contract extension on October 23, 2014
Professional Experience: Crew (2012-present)