Countdown to SuperDraft: Hidden gems may lie in later rounds
In past MLS SuperDrafts and Supplemental Drafts, the Crew has found diamonds in the rough of the later rounds that have developed into quality MLS talent. The Crew technical staff prides itself on developing these overlooked players.
"Draft picks are the hope of making that great selection that people are going to look at for years to come and say, 'Wow, look at what they did with that pick,' especially the lower round picks. In this sport, in this situation, you can turn a supplemental pick into a starter in this League," Crew President and GM Mark McCullers said.
Here are three lower round picks by the Crew that have made an impact for the Black & Gold over the years:
ANDY GRUENEBAUM - Third overall, 2006 MLS Supplemental Draft
To begin his career, Gruenebaum was the solid No. 2 'keeper every MLS club desires. Gruenebaum provided a trustoworthy to backup to Jon Busch and William Hesmer from 2006-2011, anchoring the Black & Gold to the 2010 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final. When Hesmer missed the entire 2012 season due to injury, Gruenebaum stepped into the spotlight to lead all goalkeepers with 124 saves last season. Gruenebaum has solidified himself as the Crew's first choice netminder going forward.
STEVEN LENHART - 48th overall (Sixth Round), 2008 MLS SuperDraft
Virtually unknown out of Azusa Pacific University, the Crew selected Lenhart with its final pick in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft. The scrappy forward scored 13 goals across three seasons with the Black & Gold, helping the Crew to MLS Supporters' Shields in 2008 and 2009. Lenhart has since built a reputation for the San Jose Earthquakes as one of the most intimidating strikers in MLS.
KIRK URSO - 10th overall, 2012 MLS SuperDraft
Fresh off captaining North Carolina to the NCAA Championship in 2011, Urso made an immediate impact with the Crew in 2012. Urso started the first five games of the season for the Black & Gold, becoming the designated set-piece taker while holding his own as the team's holding midfielder. Urso passed away suddenly on the morning of August 5, 2012 due to a congenital heart condition. His impact left on his teammates and the Columbus Crew community will be felt for years to come.