COLUMBUS – The 2023 MLS Cup champion Columbus Crew today announced their annual Club award winners,highlighting standout contributions from players on and off the pitch at all levels of competition. Following the 2023 title season, the Crew are now one of only three teams to hoist three or more MLS Cups.
Most Valuable Player: Cucho Hernández
Golden Boot: Cucho Hernández
Defensive Player of the Year: Steven Moreira
Humanitarian of the Year: Darlington Nagbe
Kirk Urso Heart Award: Malte Amundsen
Crew 2 Player of the Year: Noah Fuson
Crew Academy Player of the Year: Giorgio De Libera
CUCHO HERNÁNDEZ – MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
During his first full season with the Black & Gold, Forward Cucho Hernández scored a team-high 16 regular season goals and tied for a club best with 11 assists in 27 regular season matches, earning MLS Best XI honors. In the 2023 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, the 24-year-old started all six matches, recording five goals – tied for the most in the postseason – and two assists. In the 2-1 MLS Cup Final victory against Los Angeles Football Club at Lower.com Field, Hernández earned MLS Cup MVP after scoring the opening goal in the 33rd minute of the championship while tallying five shots with two on target and winning 100 percent of his duels.
In 2023, Hernández ranked first in MLS for shots (165) and shots on target (58). The Pereira, Colombia native became only the second player in Club history to record 25 or more goal contributions in his first 30 matches and only the fifth to do so in an entire season. He set a franchise record with a goal contribution in nine consecutive matches (April 29 to June 17, 2023), which was the longest such streak in MLS since 2019.
In the November FIFA International Window, Hernández was selected to join the Colombian National Team for a pair of CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying wins against Brazil and Paraguay.Most recently, Hernández was called-up for Los Cafeteros during the team’s 3-2 international friendly win against Mexico, where he played 82 minutes and recorded two shots and an 80 percent passing accuracy.
CUCHO HERNÁNDEZ – GOLDEN BOOT
Cucho Hernández earned his first Columbus Crew Golden Boot award after scoring a team-best 16 goals in the 2023 regular season. The Colombian international recorded two hat tricks this year, the first coming in a 4-2 road win against CF Montreal on Sept. 2, which included a goal with his head, left foot and right foot. He earned his second hat trick against Chicago Fire FC in a 3-0 victory on Sept. 20, which was the second-fastest hat trick from the start of a match in MLS history (22 minutes and 51 seconds). Hernández finished the season tied for the second most goals inside the 18-yard box with 15. The 2023 MLS Best XI honoree also finished the regular season with 11 assists, becoming just the fourth Crew player to register double-digit goals and assists in a single season.
STEVEN MOREIRA – DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Defender Steven Moreira tied for a team best with 34 appearances in the regular season and registered five assists. Moreira led the MLS in total accurate passes with 1,895 and appeared in all six of the Crew’s postseason matches, logging one assist.
Additionally, Moreira fully displayed his resoluteness in a home match against Nashville SC on June 24. After experiencing back spasms that needed treatment throughout the day, Moreira ultimately earned Man of the Match after winning 100 percent of his duels and completing 48 passes (85.2 percent passing accuracy) while helping the Crew earn a clean sheet with a 2-0 win.
Moreira made his international debut with the Cape Verde Islands National Team on Oct. 12, 2023 in an international friendly against Algeria.
MALTE AMUNDSEN – KIRK URSO HEART AWARD
Malte Amundsen is the 10th Crew player to receive the award after Kirk Urso was posthumously honored in the accolade’s inaugural year in 2012. The defender was chosen as the player who best exemplified the qualities in a teammate and became “the heart” in the Black & Gold locker room this season.
Born in Næstved, Denmark, Amundsen was acquired by the Crew on Apr. 25, 2023 from NYCFC and made 22 regular season appearances (21 starts). Previously a left back, Amundsen transitioned to center back and demonstrated his spirit by pushing himself both on and off the training pitch to help teammates and lead by example.
During the Black & Gold’s MLS Cup title run, Amundsen started all six playoff matches, scoring one goal from long-range in Match 3 of Round One against Atlanta United. The defender also provided the deep line-splitting assist for Midfielder Yaw Yeboah’s 37th minute game-winner, which capped an 11-pass sequence in the championship match against LAFC on Dec. 9.
DARLINGTON NAGBE – HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR
As a representative of the Columbus Crew’s community efforts, Captain and Midfielder Darlington Nagbe led the club on and off the pitch this season with his charitable works in the Columbus community and State of Ohio. Earlier in the year, in preparation for the second annual 614 Day, Nagbe hosted the “Pump Up Party” at Lower.com Field, where Nagbe and volunteers from across the city inflated 614 soccer balls for donation to local youth in Columbus. In late October, Nagbe was announced by the MLS as one of the three finalists for the Audi Goals Drive Progress Impact award, which highlights the best of MLS players’ commitment to philanthropy and helps contribute to their on-going relationships with organizations in the community.
The Lakewood, Ohio native participated in multiple Crew “Stay in the Game” Network! clap-ins at local schools, in partnership with Columbus City Schools. The mission of “Stay in the Game!” is to promote the importance of education, attendance and classroom engagement. Recently, Nagbe hosted young kids in the Cleveland area for the Crew Youth Pro Player Series which saw kids from all over Ohio learn from one of the best in the game.
NOAH FUSON – COLUMBUS CREW 2 PLAYER OF THE YEAR
In recognition of his efforts on and off the pitch this season, Forward Noah Fuson has been named the Columbus Crew 2 Player of the Year. Fuson’s dedication and leadership shined brightly all season long. In 2023, the forward led the squad in minutes played, appearances and starts. Fuson played a crucial role in Crew 2’s success, amassing eight goals and five assists to help lead the side to back-to-back MLS NEXT Pro Cup appearances. During the postseason, Fuson scored the first goal in Crew 2’s 2-1 win over Orlando City B in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. In the Eastern Conference Final, he scored the game-winning goal in the 1-0 win over the No. 1 seed Crown Legacy to pave the way for the Black & Gold to once again host the MLS NEXT Pro Cup at Lower.com Field. After spending preseason training with the First Team, Fuson earned his first senior appearance on May 10, entering the match in the 72nd minute of the Crew’s 5-1 win over Loudoun United FC in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
GIORGIO DELIBERA – ACADEMY PLAYER OF THE YEAR
For his outstanding contributions in 2023, Midfielder Giorgio De Libera has been recognized as the Columbus Crew Academy Player of the Year. A player who does the little things that elevate those around him, De Libera’s humility on and off the field serve as an example to all players in the Academy. In his eighth season as a member of the Crew Academy, the midfielder joined Columbus Crew 2 on an amateur agreement and helped Crew 2 reach their second MLS NEXT Pro Cup. De Libera made 28 appearances, (24 starts) with 1,946 minutes, two goals, and two assists while leading the squad in tackles won. The 18-year-old also wore the captain’s armband five times this season. For his efforts, he earned MLS NEXT Rising Star honors on Matchday 8 after leading Crew 2 to a 1-0 victory over FC Cincinnati 2 and was named the Midseason Rising Star of the Year in June for his standout performances.