Columbus Crew SC’s busy offseason is set to continue. According to a report from Ives Galarcep of Soccer By Ives, the Crew is set to sign local midfield product Aidan Morris to a Homegrown contract. Massive Report was unable to confirm Ives’ report of the Black & Gold signing Morris but a source with knowledge of the team’s plans said a couple of Homegrown signings were on the way.
The Crew declined to comment on Ives’ report.
Morris, from New Albany, Ohio, has been a member of the Crew Academy since 2017. Over that time, Morris scored five goals in 42 matches. Last summer, Morris was a regular at Crew practice before he left for college in Bloomington.
This past fall, Morris competed in his freshman season at Indiana where he started 21 of 22 games for the Hoosiers. The central midfielder contributed two goals and eight assists, the most helpers on the team. In Big Ten play, Morris led IU with 10 points (two goals and six assists). Indiana finished with a 15-3-3 record on the season and was 7-1-0 in conference play to finish top of the Big Ten standings in the regular season.
The Hoosiers defeated Michigan 4-3 on penalty kicks in the Big Ten Championship Game after a 0-0 draw in regulation. Following the season, Morris took home multiple awards, including being named the TDS Freshman of the Year and the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. He was also named first-team All-Big Ten, to the All-Big Ten Freshman team and the All-Big Ten Tournament team.
If signed, Morris would fill a need for the Crew. While the Black & Gold added Darlington Nagbe this offseason, the team lost Luis Argudo in the expansion draft and did not bring back Ricardo Clark or David Guzman, all of whom could play in the center of the field, from last year’s roster. Currently, Columbus has three true central or holding midfielders on the roster: Nagbe, Wil Trapp and Artur. While those three ideally play most of the minutes in 2020, the Crew needs to add depth at the position in case of injury or when squad rotation is necessary. Morris could fit that role as he develops.
Morris also makes sense because he is a Homegrown player. These players, until they reach the club’s senior roster, do not count against the team’s salary budget, making Morris, and other Homegrown players the team signs, quite the value.
The Black & Gold have produced several Homegrown players since opening the team’s Academy. Trapp is the team’s most successful Homegrown player but recent products such as Alex Crognale, who was not retained this offseason, and current center Aboubacar Keita, who was signed just before the start of the 2019 season, are other examples. Columbus also brought back a former Academy product in goalkeeper Matt Lampson this offseason.
Head coach Caleb Porter is a big believer in developing from the Academy and expressed excitement at the young players coming through the Crew’s system. Signings such as this one — assuming it comes to fruition — are an indication the club is in agreement.