Columbus Crew SC exited the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs a week ago and the club announced on Monday the 2018 Team Awards, offered to players on the roster. Forward Gyasi Zardes claimed the most coveted prize, the Acura Most Valuable Player, and he also seized the Golden Boot award.
Zardes, 27, was acquired before the start of the 2018 season in the trade that sent Ola Kamara to the LA Galaxy. The United States Men’s National Team’s player wasted no time adapting to the Black & Gold’s game system as he scored 19 regular season goals, the most in his six-year MLS career, to go with another one during the playoffs.
He was also the team leader in game-winning goals (four), minutes played (2,948), shots (88) and shots on goal (40). For his performance, he also won the 2018 MLS Comeback Player of the Year Award, becoming the first player in Crew SC history to collect the honor.
Second-year center-back Jonathan Mensah was voted by his teammates as Crew SC’s Defender of the Year. The two-time World Cup veteran had a solid season, playing in 27 matches and the team only allowed 1.19 goals per game when he was on the field. The Ghanaian helped the team to earn eight of its 10 shutouts over the season and was second in the squad in clearances per game (4.3) and third in interceptions (0.8) and blocks (0.6).
Midfielder Wil Trapp, who wore the team’s captain armband for the second season, took home the Ohio Health Humanitarian of the Year Award. The 25-year-old Columbus native assisted in the construction of houses for families in need, in association with Habitat for Humanity, and worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in different activities, including hosting visitors at a Crew SC training session and attending a bowling and pizza party for local children. He was also a finalist for MLS’s Humanitarian of the Year award.
Fullback Connor Maloney was chosen as the player that best exemplified the qualities in a teammate and became “the heart” in the Black & Gold’s locker room, earning the Kirk Urso Heart award. The 23-year-old defender had limited playing time, registering just two starts across all competitions in 2018, but was constantly praised by his teammates and the coaching staff by his hard work.
Finally, 18-year-old center-back Keegan Hughes was selected for the Crew SC Academy Player of the Year Award. He completed the 2017-18 season with 26 appearances (23 starts) for Crew SC’s Under-18/19 Academy squad, registering five goals as a defender and was part of the team that finished in third place at the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy Playoffs. Hughes, who is verbally committed to Stanford University, has been playing for the Black & Gold Academy since 2015, making 80 appearances (66 starts overall).