Five members of Crew SC’s current team are Homegrown players—meaning they grew up in Columbus, played for the club’s Academy and are now members of the First Team.
Chad Barson, Matt Lampson, Ben Speas, Ben Swanson and Wil Trapp represent their city and state, playing for Ohio’s only MLS club – and they are doing it with a lot of pride.
“It’s a pretty awesome feeling to play for the club in the state I’m from,” Defender Chad Barson says. “And it’s not just the state, it’s the city. I was born and raised in Columbus.”
The Black & Gold signed Barson on January 10, 2013 after he finished a successful college career at the University of Akron with teammates Wil Trapp and Ben Speas. While playing for the Crew SC Academy, he helped his team to the U-18 U.S. Soccer Development Academy National Final.
So far this season, Barson has made 10 appearances and notched an assist in Crew SC’s 3-1 win over the Chicago Fire in July. Wearing the Black & Gold has come naturally for the defender, as he grew up supporting the club.
“I’ve been a Crew SC fan since the day I was born—well, when I was five years old, I became a Crew SC fan,” he says. “It’s an awesome feeling to have that pride for the city and get to play for your hometown team.”
Trapp, who signed his professional contract with Crew SC just a month ahead of Barson, echoes his teammate’s pride of playing for the club he cheered on growing up.
“It’s an honor to play for the team that you grew up supporting and you played for in the Academy,” Trapp says. “It’s great to see young players moving into the League and making an impact on the highest level in our country.”
The Gahanna native has made an impact for both the Academy and the First Team. He served as captain for the club’s U-16 and U-18 teams and was a two-time player of the year (2009, 2010). He’s now taken on a leadership role with the First Team, serving as its vice captain, and has collected international experience playing for the U.S. from the U-14s all the way up to the senior roster.
Trapp has passed on a great deal of knowledge to his youngest teammate, Ben Swanson, who started his career with the Black & Gold at just eight years old and is the longest-tenured player in Crew SC’s youth program.
“I’ve grown up playing for this club since I’ve been little,” Swanson says. “Just being able to see the club grow, to be able to go to games when you’re little, and now eventually be a professional for your hometown team, it’s awesome, it’s an honor and I can’t wait to see it grow more.”
Like Trapp, Swanson has already gained international experience, earning multiple call-ups to the U.S. youth national teams. Most recently, the Grove City native was summoned to play overseas with the Red, White & Blue U-20s in a couple international friendlies, making his hometown proud.
Another Crew SC Homegrown who knows a thing or two about setting a great example for youth in the community is Matt Lampson. The goalkeeper has created the LampStrong Foundation to help children with cancer and their families, and has been named the club’s Humanitarian of the Year the past two seasons.
Lampson has also represented Columbus at the Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game for two consecutive years as part of the AT&T MLS All-Star Game activities.
“It’s humbling, it’s existence of extreme pride because you want to represent the location that you’re from, and it means a lot,” Lampson says. “You’re an inspiration and you give hope to everyone that was in your shoes, the same thing that you went through, and you provide an example to kids that were just like you growing up. It means a lot, it’s a humbling experience and something I don’t take for granted.”
Lampson has been a part of the Black & Gold’s first team since 2011, making him the longest tenured Homegrown on the current squad. In 2008, he helped his Crew SC Academy team advance to the National Finals, along with teammate Ben Speas.
Speas has made eight appearances for Crew SC this season. The midfielder is also a U.S. national youth team veteran and has won back-to-back NCAA College Cups with Akron and the University of North Carolina.
“I grew up playing, watching Crew SC. They were our team, even though I lived in Northeast Ohio. I always knew of the Crew SC guys,” Speas says. “When I got to play in the Academy, it was an awesome step, and it really helped my development. Now to play on the first team is a dream come true.”