Niko Hansen - Minnesota - 10.28.18

Crew SC Year-End Review: From veteran milestones to career-firsts, 2018 midfield a showcase in variety

Through and through, Columbus Crew SC’s midfield had it all.

A veteran with 350 career Major League Soccer appearances; a U.S. Men’s National Team Player of the Year candidate; two Designated Players and a member of the elite 50-50 club.

Behind 14 goals and nine different players holding double-digit appearances in 2018, the Black & Gold's steady five-midfielder set was headlined by veteran Federico Higuaín, who became the first player in Club history to record at least 50 goals and 50 assists in career regular-season action, as well as one of only 19 players – at the time – in MLS history to reach the mark.

Notably, the match Higuaín reached the historic record also featured a Club-debut goal from veteran midfielder Ricardo Clark, who on Aug. 19 recorded his 350th career MLS regular season appearance.

Shifting from experience to the other side of the spectrum, Columbus witnessed a steady showcase from 2018 draftee and Wake Forest University product Luis Argudo, who made six starts in 18 appearances in addition to a strong showing as a rookie in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Supporters’-Shield-winning New York Red Bulls.

Meanwhile, Artur, who was acquired on a permanent transfer from Sao Paulo FC in December of 2017, formed one pillar of the two-back central mid pairing alongside captain Wil Trapp. The duo made a combined 61 starts on 62 appearances, totaling one goal – which if you have not heard, was kind of a big deal – and three assists.

Notably, Trapp paired a solid season with the Black & Gold with a breakout year for the USMNT, captaining the side in eight of his nine appearances after earning just two caps prior to 2018. The Gahanna, Ohio native tied for the most caps this year while his 714 minutes led all 53 players who took the field for the Stars and Stripes.

It took Discovery signee Eduardo Sosa one Crew SC start to notch his first Club goal, which came on June 30 against Real Salt Lake as part of a 2-1 home victory, while veteran Hector Jimenez notched his 100th career regular-season appearance with Columbus in the Club’s road trip to Atlanta in August.

Meanwhile, outside midfielders Niko Hansen, Justin Meram, and Pedro Santos combined for five goals and 11 assists, with the Afful-to-Hansen-to-Zardes connection making its face known on a number of occasions.

Here's to seeing more of this in 2019.