The Crew's Awards Night earlier took a different tenor. Gone was the Casino Night motif for a cocktail and wine tasting event. Despite the change, the event still kept the whimsy and plenty of the spirit of the Casino Nights of past years. These events aren't about the awards really, it's getting to see players and fans mingle and celebrate a season, even if it didn't end with the playoffs.
The big news of the night was to announce the Crew Soccer Foundation's Kirk Urso Memorial Fund raised $100,000 in a year. The team has found the perfect way to honor Urso's memory and the CSF's Urso Fund is just a small part of that. The team will be distributing its first grants later this year while continuing to build the fund.
The second part was naming the recipient of the Kirk Urso Heart Award. Urso was a special person who made those around him just be a little bit better. A joke, an encouraging word, a little extra help, that was Urso. It was only natural that Eric Gehrig won the award. Like Urso, he just connects with those around him. He can joke around with his friends on the team, but is happy to chat with fans in attendance, some of which he knows on a first name basis.
The good work off the field continued when Matt Lampson was named Humanitarian of the Year. He is the spokesman for with the Central Ohio Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Chapter. His Lampstrong project came after he beat Stage 4 Hodgkin's lymphoma as he started college. Team Lampstrong raised more than $14,500 for the annual Light The Night Walk
Federico Higuain (rightfully) won the MVP award. He's been the best player on an inconsistent team. His impact goes beyond the 11 goals and 9 assists on the year. He likely should have had goal of the year for one of his tremendous chips. His goal against New York was breathtaking. Ben Speas would take home the honor for his blast against D.C. early in the year. A goal he dedicated to his former teammate, Kirk Urso.
Two other awards would go to two players who revamped the Crew midfield. Bernardo Anor's recovery from a torn ACL earned him the Comeback Player of the Year award. Since returning in June, Anor has made 19 appearances, including 18 starts. He's also had four goals and an assist. Wil Trapp made his debut a month later, but now has 15 starts in the heart of midfield. He's nailed down the starting job in perhaps the hardest position on the field, defensive midfield.
The Golden Boot award is a counting stat award. Most goals wins. It's fitting that Dominic Oduro was recognized for his impact on the offense. His 13 goals led the team obviously, but without him the Crew likely would have collapsed long before the late playoff charge.
If the Golden Boot goes to the guy with the most goals, then what does the Defender of the Year go to. Chad Marshall won the award after playing in 29 games this year and being a steady presence on a back line that kept the defense stout. He played with Glauber, Josh Williams, Eric Gehrig, and Tyson Wahl this season. Without his steadying presence the Crew likely head south.
A trio of Crew Soccer Academy players were recognized. Michael McCloseky, OSU player Tyler Kidwell, and Notre Dame's Connor Kelkota locked up the U16, U18, and U20 awards respectively. The Crew has been leaning towards promoting the Home Grown talent in the system and this trio shows there is plenty in the pool.
The awards were a brief interlude as people used it to hang out with their Crew family as the Massive Report Facebook feed can attest. Sam Fahmi's photos were great for people watching and the Crew's own photo booth caught revelers, both fans and players, enjoying themselves. So while there were no gaming tables the it still turned out to be perfect to spend an evening with black and gold.