COLUMBUS – Columbus Crew 2 have signed Crew Academy midfielder Giorgio “Gio” De Libera to an MLS NEXT Pro professional contract for the 2024 season.
“We are proud to sign Gio to his first professional contract with Crew 2,” said Columbus Crew 2 General Manager Corey Wray. “He has developed into a promising midfielder during his time with Crew 2 and our Academy, and we are eager to see his game continue to grow in the years to come. The Club is dedicated to providing players with a pathway to the professional ranks as we develop top talent in the region, and signing Gio is another testament to the efforts of the entire Academy, including Dan Lock, Kelvin Jones and the entire Crew Academy staff to help young players reach their full potential on and off the pitch.”
After joining Crew 2 on an amateur agreement in 2023, De Libera competed in 28 matches (team-high 24 starts) and logged 2,076 minutes, becoming one of only nine MLS NEXT Pro players ages 18-years old or younger last season to surpass 2,000 total minutes as his total ranked seventh-highest among the group. The two-time Columbus Crew Academy Player of the Year led the team in tackles won and recorded two goals and two assists as he helped Crew 2 earn back-to-back MLS NEXT Pro Cup Final appearances at Lower.com Field.
Making his professional debut on May 26, De Libera started the match and logged 76 minutes in a penalty kick win over New York Red Bulls II (1-1; 3:2). He was named MLS NEXT Rising Star of Matchday 8 after scoring his first professional goal and registering his first assist against Orlando City B in a 4-0 win on May 14. In the MLS NEXT Pro Midseason Awards, he was honored as the MLS NEXT Rising Star of the Year. While just 17-years-old, he captained Crew 2 five times in 2023, wearing the armband in both matchups this season with FC Cincinnati 2 (May 21, Sept. 17) and against Atlanta United 2 (June 15), New York City FC II (June 18) and Huntsville FC (June 25).
The Columbus native and current Upper Arlington High School senior joined the Crew Academy in 2015. De Libera was recognized as the 2022 Columbus Crew Academy Player of the Year after helping the U-17s reach the MLS NEXT Cup Final and claiming the tournament’s U-17 MVP. In Aug. 2022, he was selected to participate in the MLS NEXT All-Star Game in Blaine, Minn., where he represented the Crew in the East’s 2-1 win. While in the Academy, De Libera was also invited to the U.S. U-14 Youth National Team Central Region Mini-Camp in 2019.
De Libera joins Stanislav Lapkes and Cole Mrowka as the three Crew Academy players on the current roster to sign professional contracts with Crew 2.
TRANSACTION: Columbus Crew 2 signs midfielder Giorgio De Libera to an MLS NEXT Pro professional contract on January 24, 2024.
Name: Giorgio “Gio” De Libera
Pronunciation: george-ee-oh duh-LEE-brah
Date of Birth: Oct. 31, 2005
Hometown: Columbus, OH
Citizenship: United States