The Crew hosted their Annual Awards Ceremony and Casino Night on Tuesday. It was the first time in five years that it wasn't a de facto playoff rally after Saturday's disappointing loss. That didn't stop fans and the team coming together to celebrate the season's high points.
The big winner on the night was Andy Gruenebaum as he hauled in the Breakout Performance, Defender of the Year, and Team MVP awards. No one has changed the course of the game than the first year starter. He started 32 games, posted 8 shutouts, and recorded 122 saves. It was a season worthy of MLS Goalkeeper of the Year consideration.
The other big winner was another veteran who raised his game this season. Eddie Gaven scored 9 goals, a career high and co-leader of the team with Jairo Arrieta. Gaven also played his 200 game for the team this year, one of 4 players to reach that plateau joining teammate Chad Marshall, former defender Mike Clark and forward Jeff Cunningham.
Alex Thomas took home the Jim Nelson Fan of the Year Award. Alex is ever present at Crew events and the Nordecke, standing and drumming for the full 90 minutes. He's a principle member of the tifo group. He's also turned his family lunch spot, Cafe del Mundo, into a mini shrine to the team. Those tasty sandwiches have fueled many bus trips. He's another deserving award winner in one of my favorite categories.
The highlight of the evening was Mike and Sandy Urso's acceptance of the Kirk Urso Heart Award. Mike's speech was emotional as he remembered his son lost far too soon. It was another reminder of how the club, fans, and community have come together in the most trying of times.
The full list below:
Crew Breakout Performance of the Year - Andy Gruenebaum
OhioHealth Comeback Player of the Year - Julius James
200 Club - Chad Marshall and Eddie Gaven
Jim Nelson Fan of the Year - Alex Thomas
CSA Players of the Year - Ben Swanson (U-15/U-16), Zach Mason (U-17/U-18), Sage Gardner (U-19/U-20)
Crew Defender of the Year - Andy Gruenebaum
Budweiser Golden Boot - Jairo Arrieta and Eddie Gaven
Kirk Urso Heart Award - Kirk Urso
United States Soccer Foundation Humanitarian of the Year - Eddie Gaven
Crew Goal of the Year - Sebastián Miranda
Barbasol Most Valuable Player - Andy Gruenebaum.