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Crew SC signs draft picks Ben Lundgaard and Luis Argudo

Columbus officially adds duo to the fold after selecting the goalkeeper and midfielder in the MLS SuperDraft

MLS: Combine
Columbus third-round pick Luis Argudo, pictured at right during the MLS Combine, officially signed with Crew SC, the club announced Thursday.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC has secured some depth for its roster, announcing Thursday morning that it has signed 2018 MLS SuperDraft picks Ben Lundgaard and Luis Argudo.

The 22-year-old Lundgaard was the club’s first-round selection, going 21st overall, after four years and 70 appearances at goalkeeper for Virginia Tech. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound backstop had 23 shutouts at the collegiate level and was named First-Team All-Atlantic Coast Conference as well as Top Draw Soccer’s Best XI Third Team.

“It was an incredible feeling, obviously, signing your first pro contract. It’s what I’ve been looking forward to for a long time,” Lundgaard said. “When the Crew drafted me I knew I was coming into a good organization for the preseason and they just continue to prove that to me. So, signing with a great team and a great organization was just the best feeling.”

The draft choice was somewhat surprising due to Crew SC’s cupboard of goalkeepers that also includes returning starter Zack Steffen, offseason acquisition Jon Kempin and a former SuperDraft pick in Logan Ketterer. Lundgaard’s signing gives the Black & Gold four keepers.

Crew SC coach Gregg Berhalter indicated that the plan is to loan Lundgaard out somewhere he can see the field.

“Ben, we saw potential in him,” Berhalter said. “He was drafted based on his potential, and can he turn into a good goalie in this league over time? The plan with him is going to be to loan him out and get him playing.”

Where that will be is still a question mark. When asked about a destination, Berhalter said, “We’re working on that.”

Columbus does not currently have an official USL affiliate — the relationship with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds ended in the fall.

Lundgaard said he has worked to establish himself in camp, but he understands the situation and is receptive to a loan.

“I think it’s something that, if I’m the one, it will just enhance my ability,” Lundgaard said. “I’ll still be able to compete wherever I am, I’ll still be training hard and I’ll still be looking for a spot to come back and play here.”

Argudo, 22 years old, was a third-round selection by CCSC, going 67th overall out of Wake Forest, where he had 48 career appearances. As a senior, he made 23 appearances with eight goals and six assists while earning All-South Region honors.

“It was nice hearing Gregg saying they’re going to give me a contract,” Argudo said. “Obviously camp is camp and it was tough, but I thought Wake Forest really prepared me for this. It wasn’t easy, but it was something I thought I could do, and just going into it wanting to learn something every day. I’m here like a sponge sucking up every information they give me.”

While Lundgaard’s path to the first team appears cluttered, Argudo received a share of playing time in the preseason, going 45 minutes and scoring a goal in a win over Iwaki FC in the Pacific Rim Cup; he played 45 minutes in what was a strong second half for Crew SC in a win over the Charleston Battery in the Carolina Cup Challenge.

“Luis surprised us. He surprised us with his ability to adapt and get the speed of the game rather quickly,” Berhalter said. “That was something that was much better than expected. He’s done a great job.”

Argudo got work both centrally and out wide in the midfield during preseason camp, and the rookie said he’s comfortable in either role after growing up playing centrally but taking a wide position at Wake Forest.

With some question marks regarding the winger positions for Columbus — How long will Mike Grella and Niko Hansen deal with health issues? Will Christian Martinez be a legitimate fill-in? — there could be an opening for Argudo to see the field in MLS this year.

The signings of Lundgaard and Argudo brings Crew SC’s roster to 27 players. MLS roster rules allow for up to 30 players on the active roster. Here is the current roster:

Goalkeepers (4): Jon Kempin, Logan Ketterer, Ben Lundgaard, Zack Steffen

Defenders (8): Lalas Abubakar, Harrison Afful, Alex Crognale, Connor Maloney, Jonathan Mensah, Gaston Sauro, Milton Valenzuela, Josh Williams

Midfielders (12): Mohammed Abu, Luis Argudo, Artur, Ricardo Clark, Niko Hansen, Federico Higuain, Mike Grella, Hector Jimenez, Cristian Martinez, Pedro Santos, Eduardo Sosa, Wil Trapp

Forwards (3): Adam Jahn, Edward Opoku, Gyasi Zardes