2012 Crew Team Awards Ceremony Winners
Crew Breakout Performance of the Year
The Breakout Performance of the Year Award is given to the player that did the most with his first major opportunity to impact the team. This year’s recipient has been with the Crew for six seasons, but it wasn’t until this campaign that he had the opportunity to shine. Following the loss of longtime starting goalkeeper William Hesmer due to injury, the Crew turned to Andy Gruenebaum for leadership on the backline. The 29-year-old hasn’t disappointed, starting 31 total matches as of week 33 of the MLS regular season, logging 2,740 minutes in goal, eight shutouts and the third-best individual save percentage in Major League Soccer. Congratulations to Andy for winning the Breakout Player of the Year Award.
OhioHealth Comeback Player of the Year
Julius James is the recipient of the OhioHealth Comeback Player of the Year Award after overcoming multiple obstacles in 2012. Since returning from major shoulder surgery in the offseason, James suffered a collapsed lung in early April during a practice session, sending him to the hospital for emergency treatment. Despite his lengthy recovery, James has worked his way back into the team during the Crew’s end of season run, playing in 12 matches this year on the backline. Additionally, the central defender has battled further shoulder ailments down the stretch. In spite of these difficulties, James continues to be a steady contributor to the club’s defensive efforts, and his recovery has been a welcome sight for the Crew organization and its fans. Please join us in congratulating Julius James, your OhioHealth Comeback Player of the Year.
Few players have exemplified the pride and tradition of the Crew organization as much as Chad Marshall and Eddie Gaven. The two longest-tenured field players on the current roster, Marshall and Gaven are now over the 200 games-played mark for the Crew in Major League Soccer competitions, putting them in rare company in franchise history. Currently in his ninth season in Black & Gold, Marshall has logged more than 20,000 minutes for the Crew throughout his career en route to becoming team captain and a defensive mainstay. Fellow iron man Gaven has 50 regular season goals and 33 assists to his name in more than 16,000 minutes. Only four players in club history have reached the 200-game plateau, the other two being Jeff Cunningham and Mike Clark. Congratulations, Chad and Eddie!
Jim Nelson Fan of the Year
Alex has been with the Crew since day one. Many have gotten to know him over the years for the energy and rhythm he helps provide the Nordecke on game days while banging the drums in Section 142. Alex has always been passionate about the Crew, as evidenced by his unwavering support of the Black & Gold over the years. His devotion is on display not just on match days, but every day of the year. One simply needs to visit Café del Mondo in Italian Village to see Alex's love of the Crew on display. Upon entering the parking lot, you are greeted by Crew flags waving above the patio, and as you continue into the dining area memorabilia adorns the walls. Stop in on any given day and you are likely to run into Crew fans, staff members, coaches and players.
This year, Alex brought his commitment to a whole new level. The Chef had become obsessed with feeding "his boys" to the point that he convinced his mother Bruna and step-father Bill to become official team partners of the Crew in 2012.
Alex is truly 'Columbus 'til he dies' and has been a MASSIVE part of Crew Soccer Nation for many years. Please join me in recognizing Alex Thomas as our 2012 Crew Fan of the Year.
adidas CSA Players of the Year
As the Crew and Major League Soccer continue to focus on youth development, it’s important to recognize the future stars in the Crew organization. This year’s adidas Crew Soccer Academy Players of the Year are Ben Swanson for the U-15/U-16 squad, Zach Mason for the U-17/U-18s, and Sage Gardner for the U-19/U-20 team.
Ben Swanson’s performances on the field for the Black & Gold over the past two years have earned him a spot as one of the youngest players in the United States U-17 National Team Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida. The Grove City native will play an integral part in the team’s attempt to qualify for the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
Zach Mason’s tireless work rate, ability to play his best in crucial matches, and outstanding leadership qualities have made him only the second repeat MVP in Crew Soccer Academy history. Mason is currently a freshman starter at Ohio State and will be a critical part of the group that will defend the Crew’s U-19 National Championship next summer.
A steady, skillful defender, Sage Gardner captained the U-19 National Champions and U-20 National Finalists over last summer. A three-year starter at Ohio State, Gardner will be a key leader as the U-20s seek to win their third National Championship in four years next summer.
Crew Defender of the Year
Arguably the top goalkeeper in Major League Soccer this season, Andy Gruenebaum is the recipient of the 2012 Defender of the Year honor. As of week 32, Gruenebaum leads all MLS goalkeepers with 117 total saves. Since taking over the starting goalkeeping position, the Kansas City native has been the foundation of Columbus’ defensive efforts. This season he has a career-high 8 shutouts thus far, leading the Crew to the second best save percentage in MLS. Join us in congratulating Andy Gruenebaum, your Crew Defender of the Year.
Budweiser Golden Boot
This year's Budweiser Golden Boot Award goes to two players in Black & Gold. Both Jairo Arrieta and Eddie Gaven finished the season even with nine goals each. Mid-season newcomer Jairo Arrieta has been a revelation in the Crew attack since joining the club from Costa Rican side Deportivo Saprissa in July. One of the League's premier mid-season signings, Arrieta has burst onto the North American scene with nine strikes in only 17 games, including three multi-goal performances to claim his share of the Budweiser Golden Boot award along with midfielder Eddie Gaven.
With more than 200 appearances across all competitions for the Crew in a stellar seven-year club career, Eddie Gaven shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. In his tenth MLS season Gaven has put together his finest offensive performance, notching nine goals to claim a share of the Budweiser Golden Boot. Congrats Jairo & Eddie on being the 2012 Budweiser Golden Boot Winners!
Kirk Urso Heart Award
The Kirk Urso Heart Award is a new honor in 2012, named after the Columbus Crew midfielder that passed away earlier this year due to a congenital heart condition. To honor his memory, each season the players will vote on the individual that most embodies Urso’s selflessness and tireless work ethic. Urso was renowned for his willingness to help others, and he was strongly admired for his hard-working attitude on and off the field. For all these reasons and many more, the winner of the inaugural Kirk Urso Heart Award is Urso himself. Please join us in honoring the legacy of this fine young man that we will never forget.
United States Soccer Foundation Humanitarian of the Year
Eddie Gaven has been a visible community ambassador for the Crew throughout his career in Black & Gold. Since joining the organization, Gaven has poured his heart and soul into community initiatives that have impacted the greater Columbus area. He has participated in the Columbus Crew's School Assembly program, speaking to hundreds of elementary-age children. Gaven has been a staple of the Crew's visits to Nationwide Children's Hospital and Easter Seals program. He has been part of the Crew's litter and graffiti clean-up efforts with Keep Columbus Beautiful and the Greater Linden Development Corporation during the Crew's "Massive Makeover" project. Additionally, Gaven has been a long-time supporter of the St. Stephen's House Community Food and Toy Drive. He has also donated his favorite personal items as part of a "player basket" for the Crew Soccer Foundation's sports memorabilia fundraising. On behalf of the Crew and the greater Columbus community, thank you Eddie for all your hard work and dedication.
Crew Goal of the Year
While there were many options for Goal of the Year, including Justin Meram’s stunning curler over the head of Jon Busch in San Jose, Emilio Rentería’s 25-yard chip in Seattle, Jairo Arrieta’s blast against Sporting Kansas City, and Federico Higuaín’s free kick strike in the Crew’s victory over the New England Revolution, fans voted and the choice was clear: Sebastián Miranda’s 20-yard header to help the Crew to victory over FC Dallas was the most Massive of them all.
Barbasol Most Valuable Player
The Barbasol Most Valuable Player Award is a split vote between the fans and the Crew technical staff. The recipient is a player that makes those around him better as a leader. This year’s Barbasol MVP has stepped up for the club in a time of need to strengthen the team’s overall success. Ranking in the top 10 of several 2012 MLS goalkeeping categories – including starts, goals against average, winning percentage, and shutouts – this player also leads the League in overall saves. Making the most of his first opportunity to be a starter en route to becoming one of the best goalkeepers in MLS, this year’s Barbasol Most Valuable Player is Andy Gruenebaum.