Columbus Crew SC announced that the club has acquired goalkeeper Jon Kempin from LA Galaxy in exchange for a Fourth Round pick in the 2018 Major League Soccer SuperDraft. Kempin, 24, is an eight-year Major League Soccer veteran who previously played for LA Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City.
ColumbusCrewSC.com's Alex Stec caught up with Kempin on the phone:
Alex Stec, ColumbusCrewSC.com: You were acquired by Crew SC today. Are you excited to join the Black & Gold?
Jon Kempin: Yeah, I’m very excited. Obviously, Crew SC’s had a very successful past couple of years and also throughout the whole MLS existence, so I’m excited to join that and that history as well as work with Gregg [Berhalter] and Pat [Onstad] and any of the other coaching staff. I think they’ll be great for my improvement and development.
AS: Are you familiar with [Crew SC Goalkeeper Coach] Pat Onstad?
JK: Yeah, I watched him growing up. He obviously had a great career playing. My dad – funny story I was sharing earlier – my dad owned a goalie glove company [GK1] and I guess they sponsored Pat for a little while. So, I kind of joked about that with him when he called me the other day. Then, obviously, I just know him throughout the League and from seeing him when we would play the Crew and I would talk to him for a little bit. I really like him. From everyone I’ve talked to, they’ve always said great things about him so I’m excited to start working with him.
AS: Are you familiar with any players on Crew SC’s current roster?
JK: Wil Trapp has obviously had a very successful career there and we were very good friends growing up throughout the [U.S.] National Team, the Youth National Team system. Both him, Walker [Zimmerman] and I, we had a little group that we always kept in touch, especially when all of us turned pro, continued to keep in touch a little bit. So, I’m very good friends with him so I’m excited to play with him again. That will be cool. I obviously know Zack [Steffen] through some National Youth Team stuff, but not as well as Wil Trapp.
AS: You’ve been in the League (MLS) for eight years now. What are you looking forward to most about this next step in your career, playing in Columbus?
JK: Obviously, the next step is to be number two, to push Zack. He obviously had a great year this year. I’m going to enjoy working with him, continuing to push him and continuing to get him better. I think that will only help make me better and continue to grow. Teach some of the younger players the ropes and be that leader on the team. I felt like last year I formed a little bit of a leadership within the team and I just kind of want to bring that over to the Crew and continue using my experience, like you said, over the last eight years and be a leader on the team. Someone that the other guys on the team can come to if they need any advice or anything playing-wise or even off the field-wise.
AS: You have experience at different levels with the U.S. National Team. How has that helped you develop as a goalkeeper?
JK: You’re getting experience working with a lot of different coaches so you’re learning a lot of different things and you’re able to kind of create your own playing style, which is great. That’s what I enjoyed—was with every camp or every other camp, getting a different goalkeeper coach or maybe a different coach throughout the different ages, and kind of tailoring, taking their information and creating your own style of goalkeeping, which was great for me. It was also great because one, we were able to play and get international experience. Some of the top players around the world, I have played against Neymar when I was younger and Coutinho, so some of these big-name players which was really cool to experience as well as playing with the top U.S. level guys and creating a relationship with them, for instance, like Wil Trapp down the line, now I’m playing with him I know his style of play a little bit so that will hopefully help the transition process.
AS: What’s something Crew SC supporters may not know about you but should?
JK: One of the players that I looked up to growing up was Will Hesmer—he used to play for the Crew. He played for the Kansas City Wizards back in the day, and was one of my goalkeeper coaches so that’s pretty cool, as well as Andy Gruenebaum – he used to play for the Crew as well – he and I went to the same high school in Kansas City, which was pretty funny and then he came to Sporting [Kansas City] and we played on Sporting together, so kind of an interesting tie there. I’m taking online college course and I’ll graduate next year, so that’s a pretty exciting year for me. I signed pro before my senior year of high school, so I had to finish that year online and then I’ve just been slowly taking online college courses.