Columbus Crew SC Announces 2017 Team Award Winners
Midfielder Federico Higuain named 2017 Acura Most Valuable Player, marking the third time he wins the club MVP Award; Ola Kamara, Zack Steffen, Jonathan Mensah, Josh Williams and Crew SC Academy’s Jensen Lukacsko also recognized.
Men’s Soccer News: Columbus Crew SC today announced its 2017 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.
FEDERICO HIGUAIN – ACURA MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
This is the third time that midfielder Federico Higuain has received the club’s Most Valuable Player award, as he previously earned the honor in 2013 and 2014. In his sixth year with Crew SC, Higuain had his best statistical season with the club, scoring nine goals and providing 16 assists across all MLS competitions (regular season and postseason) in 2017.
In addition to registering a career-high number of assists, Higuain’s nine goals were his second-highest number of goals for the Black & Gold in a single regular season, behind only his 2013 and 2014 production of 11 goals.
In 2017, Higuain set up five game-winning goals, tying Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Simon Elliott and John Wilmar Perez for most game-winning assists in a single regular season for Crew SC.
The Argentine midfielder’s five game-winning helpers in 2017 brought his all-time regular-season total to 16, which tied him with Robert Warzycha for first place in the Black & Gold game-winning assists chart. In 2017,
Higuain was named to MLSSoccer.com’s Team of the Week six times (Weeks 4, 10, 14, 17, 29, 33). This season, Crew SC had an undefeated record of 9-0-1 across all MLS competitions when Higuain provided an assist.
OLA KAMARA – GOLDEN BOOT WINNER
Forward Ola Kamara tallied 18 goals in regular-season action and finished fifth in the 2017 MLS Golden Boot race. Kamara’s 18 strikes tied him with Stern John’s 1998 output for third place in Crew SC’s list of most goals scored during a single regular season. The 18 tallies also set a new MLS career-high for the Norwegian forward, who had previously scored 16 goals during the 2016 MLS regular season.
Kamara also scored against 15 different opponents during the regular season, tying Mike Magee‘s 2013 record of most teams scored against in a single regular season. Kamara’s streak of scoring in four consecutive matches tied for the third longest streak of the year, with only Diego Valeri (nine), David Accam (five) and Ignacio Piatti (five) scoring in more consecutive regular-season matches in 2017. In 2017, Crew SC had a regular-season record of 10-3-4 when Kamara scored one or more goals.
ZACK STEFFEN – DEFENDER OF THE YEAR
Goalkeeper Zack Steffen played every minute of Crew SC’s 39 matches across all MLS competitions while posting 11 shutouts.The 22-year-old’s 16 wins and nine shutouts during the 2017 MLS regular season set a new club record for a Crew SC goalkeeper in his first year of play, while his 34 regular-season starts tied Steve Clark for most starts by a Crew SC goalkeeper in his first year of play.
Steffen’s eight saves and clean sheet against Atlanta United in the Eastern Conference Knockout Round of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs made him the youngest goalkeeper to play, start, register a save and record a shutout for Crew SC in the postseason. Additionally, Steffen saved four penalty kick attempts in regulation time across all MLS competitions in 2017.
JONATHAN MENSAH – OHIOHEALTH HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR
In his first year in MLS, Jonathan Mensah was active in the Columbus community, donating time at multiple events with organizations like Make-A-Wish, Habitat For Humanity, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and others while also assisting in clinics for challenged youth from the Linden area and the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio. Additionally, Mensah hosted a donation drive for new and gently used soccer equipment, which was brought back to children in Ghana via his own charitable initiative, the Jonathan Mensah Foundation.
JOSH WILLIAMS – KIRK URSO HEART AWARD
Josh Williams is the fifth 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, Williams was chosen as the player that best exemplified the qualities in a teammate and became “the heart” in the Black & Gold’s locker room. The Ohio-native made 22 regular-season appearances (19 starts), while helping the club earn seven shutouts. Williams also scored three goals during the regular season, getting on the scoresheet for the first time since 2013.
JENSEN LUKACSKO – CREW SC ACADEMY PLAYER OF THE YEAR
In recognition of his bright future and his contributions for the Black & Gold’s Under-17/18 Academy team, Jensen Lukacsko has been named the Crew SC Academy Player of the Year. He completed the 2016-17 season with 28 appearances (all starts) for the U-17/18 squad, registering three goals to help his team reach the playoffs.
An 18-year-old midfielder, Lukacsko has been a team captain for the past three seasons and has competed for Crew SC Academy since 2014, having started in over 95 percent of the matches he has appeared in. Set to graduate from Gahanna Lincoln High School in 2018, Lukacsko is verbally committed to Bowling Green State University. Per the ORTEC 2016-2017 Developmental Academy Performance Score, he is ranked ninth place among all U-18 defensive midfielders across the United States.
Press release and photo credit: Columbus Crew SC