MLS NEXT Pro announced a number of the league’s regular season awards Friday afternoon. Columbus Crew 2, the top team in the regular season standings, had numerous award winners, including Laurent Courtois as Coach of the Year, Patrick Schulte as Goalkeeper of the Year and four players named to the MLS NEXT Pro Best XI.
Courtois led the Black & Gold to a record of 16-3-5, the best record in the league, amassing 55 points in the team's inaugural season. Under his leadership, Columbus led the league in wins (16), goals scored (62) and goal differential (+40). Crew 2 also had the best home record in the league, going 11-1-0 at Historic Crew Stadium and Lower.com Field, with the team’s only loss to Rochester New York FC which the Black & Gold will face in the Eastern Conference semifinals on Saturday.
The league announced MLS NEXT Pro Best XI on Friday. Schulte, defender Mo Farsi, midfielder Isaiah Parente and forward Jacen Russell-Rowe were named as part of the group that had the best regular seasons in 2022.
Schulte started in 15 games for Crew 2 while splitting time with Brady Scott, allowing just 15 goals in those contests. Schulte also tied for the league lead with 10 wins and was second in MLS NEXT Pro with seven clean sheets. He anchored a defense that was tied for the fewest goals allowed in the league (22).
Farsi was one of two Black & Gold players to earn a first-team contract during the season. The defender tied for the league lead in assists with Inter Miami CF II’s Romeo Beckham (10). Farsi played in 18 games this season and was a big reason for Columbus’ impressive defensive record.
Parente was a mainstay in the Crew 2 midfield. He started in 13 games for the Black & Gold and recorded six goals and five assists.
Russell-Rowe earned MLS NEXT Pro’s Golden Boot Award, as well as being named to the league’s Best XI, scoring 21 goals in just 19 games. The forward was the other Crew 2 player to earn a first-team contract this season, where he appeared in five games (three starts) and recorded two assists. Russell-Rowe also had four assists in MLS NEXT Pro to go with his league-leading 21 goals.
There is still one more award to be announced. MLS NEXT Pro will announce the league’s Most Valuable Player on Oct. 5.
Columbus begins the team’s quest to finish the season with a trophy when hosting Rochester on Saturday in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET.