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Jordan Hamilton is starting to show what he can do for the Crew

The young forward started slow but is beginning to find a role in Columbus.

SOCCER: AUG 10 MLS - FC Cincinnati at Columbus Crew SC Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jordan Hamilton was off to a fast start to the 2019 season.

In 19 games to open the year with Toronto FC, the 23-year-old forward already tied his career-high in appearances (14), made seven starts and scored four goals, the most of his six seasons in Major League Soccer. And this was all before the start of July.

For Hamilton, it seemed like his career was really taking off after playing largely a reserve role behind Jozy Altidore in Toronto over his first five years as a professional.

But on July 11, the Scarborough, Ontario native was traded to Columbus Crew SC in exchange for Patrick Mullins and an international roster slot. It was a surprise move for Hamilton, who was a TFC Homegrown product and expected to remain with the club for the foreseeable future, but not one he was disappointed about.

Two months after the trade, Hamilton is finally settling in in is his new town. He bought a condo in Columbus and is just waiting for the final paperwork to be approved to move in.

On the field, things have been a little different.

Despite the trade going through on July 11, Hamilton waited for over a week in Toronto for his U.S. paperwork to go through. During that time, he trained on his own, but when he was finally able to work with his new teammates, he was admittedly a bit rusty. But that was no excuse.

“I’m a professional. I think that’s an easy excuse to take a while to settle into a team,” Hamilton said. “If you come in here as a professional, you work hard, you show your talent, the guys will respect you. With that said, obviously you have to bide time sometimes and just keep a positive attitude but I’m confident in my abilities and I know what type of player I am and what I bring to the table.”

With Gyasi Zardes as the Crew’s established starter in its one-forward system, Hamilton did have to bide his time until he saw the field. The Black & Gold also brought in striker Romario Williams from Atlanta United in early July, so there was certainly competition for Hamilton when he arrived.

The forward finally made his debut for Columbus on Aug. 21 against New York City FC. It was the second game of three in eight days for the Crew, so head coach Caleb Porter elected to rest players. Williams got the start but Hamilton came off the bench for the final 30 minutes.

“You saw in the New York game with Romario and Jordan that Jordan came in and was lively,” Porter said. “And Jordan actually had a really good week last week in training and that’s ultimately why I went with him in the last 10 minutes over (Romario).”

Hamilton made the bench in each of the Black & Gold’s next two matches, playing five minutes as a substitute against the Chicago Fire.

While it hasn’t been the start to his Columbus career that Hamilton would have liked, he’s not the type of player to get impatient. Hamilton’s motto is to come to work every day looking to show the coaching staff and his teammates what he can do and build the trust to get on the field.

Last week was a perfect opportunity to do that. With Zardes, as well as a number of other players, gone on international duty and minor injuries to take care of with no game on the weekend, the Crew was down to just 10 first-team players available for training. The fewer numbers meant Hamilton’s training was watched even more closely as one of only two forwards.

“A week like this is what I love,” Hamilton said. “You’re just playing, you’re leaving it all on the field, you’re not really preparing for a game or anything. It’s just competition within the group and I always try to come out on top of that.”

Come out on top Hamilton did.

In last Wednesday’s small-sided tournament, Hamilton’s team took home “the MLS Cup” thanks to multiple goals from the forward in the mini-games. During a full field, 11 v. 11 scrimmage on Friday, Hamilton split time with Williams, playing striker for the Academy team in the first half and joining what was largely the first-team players in the second.

All he did was score twice during his second half with the first team, twice getting in behind the Academy backline, staying composed to round the goalkeeper and slotting the ball into the net cleanly on either occasion.

“Those are days I love and you don’t really get the chance to have those days within the season when you’re preparing for games and stuff because it’s obviously about managing guys and preparing the team to win,” Hamilton continued. “I love that. Today, the Academy guys came in in 11 v. 11. I started with them, tried to lead them, tried to keep them positive and keep their heads up and then I switched over and I thought I gelled well with the starting 11. That was my first little run with them in a little bit and I thought it was great.”

For a Crew team that keeps track of not only how players perform in training but also how their teams do in the games they play om practice, Hamilton certainly helped himself last week. While he’s under no illusions as to who the starting forward is when Zardes is available, Hamilton just wants to keep showing what he can do and get time as he settles in with the Crew like he has Columbus.

“Come in every day and just scoring goals and winning games,” Hamilton said. “Whatever game it is, whatever role they put me in, just give it my 100 percent and I think I’ve done that pretty well. I would hope the coach sees that too and I think you can tell if he’s putting me into games.”