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Get to Know Columbus Crew SC 2015 Draft Pick Sagi Lev-Ari

Crew SC selected two players in the opening two rounds of the 2015 MLS Draft. Let's get to know their second-round draft pick.

Jeff Golden Photography

Last week fans were introduced to Columbus Crew SC's first-round selection (19th overall) Sergio Campbell, but what about the Black and Gold's other selection from the first day of the draft?

With the 14th pick (35th overall) in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft, Crew SC selected forward Sagi Lev-Ari out of California State University-Northridge. Unlike many players selected in the second round of the draft, Lev-Ari, was extremely interested in the team that eventually drafted him.

"I'm really excited," he told TheCrew.com with excitement shortly after Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter and his staff picked him in the second round.

"I looked forward to getting drafted by Columbus Crew and I'm glad it happened. I'm really, really excited and I can't wait for my first practice with the team and meet the teammates."

This is not just typical player speak either. Just as coaches and scouts studied him during the pre-draft evaluation process, Lev-Ari did some research on MLS clubs and believes Columbus is a good fit for him.

"I heard that the team possessed the ball like 32 games out of 33, which is really impressive," he said. "I think that's a perfect fit for me as a forward, as a center forward to finish from crosses and stuff. I saw some of the games and I saw the possession and I really, really liked it. I really hoped to get drafted by Columbus and I'm glad it happened."

Lev-Ari finished his collegiate career as one of the most accomplished goal scorers in Cal State-Northridge history. He tallied 42 goals in three seasons with 15 goals in 2012, 16 in 2013, and 11 in 2014.

"I will try to do my very best at the MLS," Lev-Ari said in regards to carrying his scoring over to the professional game.

"I think I'm coming with a good repertoire of goals and hopefully I can do the same thing in the MLS. I liked to score double digits every year and just to keep forward and score another double digits next year. That's what I'm looking forward."

The forward also brings a unique wealth of experience to Crew SC, having served as an infantry soldier in the Israeli Defense Force. This impressed Berhalter when talking with Lev-Ari at workouts.

"I think that's something that certainly helps him in terms of how he's able to present himself," the head coach explained. "How he was able to perform at the combine, and what he's been through so far in life."

Berhalter's focus though isn't on Lev-Ari's background but what he offers on the field. The Black and Gold's personnel decision maker didn't take a flyer on Lev-Ari, but believes he is someone who can come in and contribute to team that only had 10 goals from true forwards.

"This is a guy that wants to score goals. He wants to get the ball in the net. He's very motivated to do that," Berhalter explained.

"He attacks the ball with a lot of power. He has a tremendous vertical leap, he's good on crosses. I think it's an interesting prospect. I'm not going to say that he's going to score 20 goals in the MLS but it's going to be interesting to work with him and see if we can develop him into a guy that can score goals."

Due to his required military service, Lev-Ari is older than most draftees. Despite being 26-years old, Berhalter believes they can get what they want out of the attacker.

"There's no real disadvantage to being older in terms of, we look at the window we want production out of him," he explained. "We're going to be able to get it for at least in the near future. What we have is a mature player."

The forward is excited to get to Columbus for a number of reasons. He hopes to compete for a spot and help to add another scoring punch up top, he is excited to play a possession-style where he will have service while on the field, but he is also excited for the fans, which he has already seen in action.

"I want them to know I already saw all the videos about the fans and I'm really excited to meet them," he said of the supporters. "I can't wait for the first game just to see the fans. I'm really, really excited."