For the first time in the history of Columbus Crew 2, the Black & Gold have a player named Player of the Month. On Tuesday, MLS Next Pro announced various awards, including naming Jacen Russell-Rowe the league's Player of the Month for May.
MLS Next Pro awards are determined by votes from the league's editorial team, league personnel, announcers and the clubs themselves. Like in MLS, these awards take into account all players who qualify for the honor.
Russell-Rowe had an outstanding month of May, helping Crew 2 to a 3-1-0 record and scoring in all three wins. The forward currently leads MLS NEXT Pro in goals with seven finishes and is tied for second in the league for goals scored.
“It’s an honor, honestly, to be named Player of the Month in MLS Next Pro”, Russell-Rowe said.
In Crew 2’s 4-0 win against the New England Revolution II on May 8, Russell-Rowe scored the third goal of the match for Columbus, essentially sealing the victory for the Black & Gold. Russell-Rowe then scored in the next two games, both wins, against New York City FC II and Toronto FC II, extending his goal-scoring streak to five and six games, respectively. He scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory over NYCFC II on May 15 and scored the equalizing goal before Coleman Gannon grabbed the winner in a 2-1 victory over TFC II a week later.
Russell Rowe’s spectacular month of May for Crew 2 paved the way for him to earn a short-term loan with the first team for the Crew’s 2-1 win at Atlanta United on May 28. Whie he did not get off the bench for the Black & Gold first team, it was an important experience for the young player.
The forward has been the heartbeat of Crew 2 this season. His one game missed while with the first team against Rochester New York FC, a result in which the Black & Gold lost 4-0, showed just how valuable he is for this team as the group lacked his scoring punch up top to provide any resistance.
Not only did Russell-Rowe score goals, but he also had an assist in May. He set up fellow forward Noah Fuson, who was the other Crew 2 player nominated for MLS NEXT Pro Player of the Month honors, in Columbus’ 4-2 victory against Toronto.
Crew 2 also had other nominations for May awards, including Fuson for Player of the Month and head coach Laurent Courtois for Coach of the Month. The team as a whole was also nominated for the Team of the Month award.
Russell-Rowe and Crew 2 will look to start another win streak when the team welcomes Inter Miami FC II, one of only two teams to beat the Black & Gold this year when they played in Fort Lauderdale to open the season. Kickoff for that game is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on Thursday at Historic Crew Stadium. All MLS Next Pro games can be streamed live at mlsnextpro.com.