COLUMBUS – Columbus Crew SC today announced its 2018 Team Awards — including the Acura Most Valuable Player, Golden Boot Winner, Defender of the Year, OhioHealth Humanitarian of the Year, Kirk Urso Heart Award and Crew SC Academy Player of the Year.
GYASI ZARDES – ACURA MOST VALUABLE PLAYER AND GOLDEN BOOT WINNER
Gyasi Zardes, 27, led Crew SC in goals scored during the 2018 MLS regular season, tallying a career-high 19 strikes in regular-season action, more than any other American player in MLS this season. In addition to setting a new career-high in goals, Zardes’ 19 strikes moved him into third place on Crew SC’s list of most goals scored in a single MLS regular season, behind only Stern John (26 goals in 1998) and Kei Kamara (22 goals in 2015). Additionally, the forward’s stellar season saw him win the 2018 MLS Comeback Player of the Year award, becoming the first player in Crew SC history to win the honor.
In addition to leading Crew SC in goals during the 2018 regular season, Zardes also led the club in the following categories: game-winning goals (four), minutes played (2,948), shots (88) and shots on goal (40). Of Zardes’ 19 goals in regular-season action, 17 were scored at MAPFRE Stadium, including three braces before he capped the regular season with his first career hat trick in a 3-2 home win over Minnesota United FC on October 28. In 2018, Zardes was named to MLSSoccer.com’s Team of the Week four times, (Weeks 2, 11, 24, 35), while also being named the Alcatel MLS Player of the Week on two occasions (Weeks 11, 35).
JONATHAN MENSAH – DEFENDER OF THE YEAR
Jonathan Mensah made 27 appearances (26 starts at centerback) in the 2018 MLS regular season, scoring one goal. In addition, Mensah started in eight of Crew SC’s 10 shutouts in 2018. The Ghanaian was a reliable stalwart for the Black & Gold, as Crew SC only allowed 1.19 goals per game when he made an appearance. Mensah also scored a goal in a July 28th road match against the New York Red Bulls that helped Crew SC to a 3-2 victory. Mensah’s was twice named to MLSSoccer.com’s weekly Team of the Week: in Week 12 following a road match against the New England Revolution and in Week 29 following a road match against FC Dallas.
WIL TRAPP – OHIOHEALTH HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR
A Columbus native and a product of the Crew SC Academy, Wil Trapp – completing his second year as team captain – served as an example of how to be actively involved with the local community. In 2018 – his sixth season with the club – Trapp assisted in the construction of houses for families in need, in association with Habitat for Humanity. He also worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in different activities, including hosting visitors at a Crew SC training session and attending a bowling and pizza party for local children. For his efforts, Trapp was also named a finalist in Major League Soccer’s Humanitarian of the Year voting.
CONNOR MALONEY – KIRK URSO HEART AWARD
Connor Maloney is the sixth player to receive this award after Kirk Urso was posthumously honored in the inaugural year of the special recognition in 2012. Voted by his teammates, Maloney was chosen as the player that best exemplified the qualities in a teammate and became “the heart” in the Black & Gold’s locker room. Maloney, 23, completed his second season with Crew SC after being selected in the Third Round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. In 2018, Maloney made two appearances (both starts) across all competitions, registering one assist.
KEEGAN HUGHES – CREW SC ACADEMY PLAYER OF THE YEAR
In recognition of his bright future and his contributions for the Black & Gold's Under-18/19 Academy team, Keegan Hughes has been named the Crew SC Academy Player of the Year. He completed the 2017-18 season with 26 appearances (23 starts) for the Under-18/19 squad, registering five goals as a defender.
Notably, Hughes was the starting centerback for the Crew SC U-18/19 team that finished in third place at the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy Playoffs. An 18-year-old, Hughes has competed for Crew SC Academy since 2015, making 80 appearances (66 starts overall). Set to graduate from Heath High School in 2019, Hughes is verbally committed to Stanford University.