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Columbus Crew SC announces 2017 awards

The Black & Gold award the team’s top players from this season.

MLS: Eastern Conference Knockout Round-Columbus Crew at Atlanta United FC John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC today announced the winners of the 2017 team awards. These are given out annual to players who achieve the most on and off the field for the Black & Gold.

Here are the 2017 winners:

Acura Most Valuable Player: Federico Higuain

This season was Higuain’s most productive of his six with Crew SC. He registered nine goals and a career-high 11 assists in the regular season, while also adding two assists in Columbus’ postseason run to Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference Finals.

Higuain’s five game-winning assists tie for most in club history in a single season with Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Simon Elliott and John Wilmar Perez. The 33 year old, who will return next year after signing a new contract, is now tied for first in Crew SC history with Robert Warzycha for career game-winning (16).

This is the third time Higuain has received the MVP honor, previously winning the award in 2013 and 2014.

Golden Boot: Ola Kamara

After taking MLS by storm in his first season in the league with 16 goals, Kamara improved on his debut year by registering 18 finishes in 2017. This mark was tops for the Black & Gold and had the Norwegian ranked fifth in MLS. His 18 goals are tied for third in team history for goals in a regular season with Stern John.

Kamara managed to score against 15 different MLS clubs in 2017, tying Mike Magee’s 2013 MLS record for most teams scored against in a regular season.

Defender of the Year: Zack Steffen

While Steffen joined Crew SC in the middle of 2016, this season was truly his debut year. The goalkeeper played every minute for Columbus in 2017 across three competitions and recorded 16 wins and nine shutouts, the most by a first-year Black & Gold goalkeeper. Additionally, Steffen made four penalty kick saves in regulation throughout the year.

Steffen became the youngest goalkeeper to play, start, register a save and record a shutout for Crew SC in the postseason with his performance against Atlanta United in the knockout round.

OhioHealth Humanitarian of the Year: Jonathan Mensah

Black & Gold fans saw Jonathan develop as a center back throughout the 2017 season. What many of them didn’t see was his work off the field. The Ghanian took part in multiple charity events with organizations like Make-A-Wish, Habitat For Humanity, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and others. He also took time to work in clinics for challenged youth from the Linden area and the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio.

Jonathan hosted a donation drive for new and gently used soccer equipment, which was brought back to children in Ghana via his own charity, the Jonathan Mensah Foundation.

Kirk Urso Heart Award: Josh Williams

Kirk Urso was a Crew SC rookie in 2012 when, just months into his first professional season, he passed away due to cardiac arrest. This award was made in his honor and Williams is the fifth recipient after being voted on by his teammates for best exemplifying the qualities in a teammate and becoming “the heart” in the Black & Gold’s locker room.

Williams made made 22 appearances for Columbus (19 starts) and the center back helped to earn seven shutouts. Williams also scored three goals for Crew SC, his first finishes since 2013.

Crew SC Academy Player of the Year: Jensen Lukacsko

Lukacsko is part of the Crew SC Academy U-17/18 side. The midfielder made 28 appearances for the team this season, all starts, and scored three goals. His efforts helped Crew SC to reach the playoffs.

The 18 year old has been with the Crew SC Academy since 2014 and been his team’s captain for the last three seasons. After graduating from Gahanna Lincoln High School in the spring, Lukacsko plans on continuing his soccer career at Bowling Green.