COLUMBUS — Columbus Crew today announced its annual team award winners, unveiling the Club’s Nationwide Most Valuable Player, Lower.com Golden Boot, Pathways Financial Credit Union Defensive Player of the Year, Kirk Urso Heart Award, OhioHealth Humanitarian of the Year, AEP Crew 2 and Columbia Gas Academy Player of the Year honorees.
DARLINGTON NAGBE – NATIONWIDE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Midfielder Darlington Nagbe has been selected as the Columbus Crew MVP for his contributions during his third season as a member of the Black & Gold. Nagbe was the Crew’s only field player to appear in all 34 regular-season matches this season, and was fourth overall across all field players in MLS after logging a total of 3,039 minutes. Hailing from Lakewood, Ohio, Nagbe had three goals to his credit this season including a 95th minute equalizer in a 1-1 road draw against the New York Red Bulls on March 20, the third goal in a 3-0 home win against D.C. United on April 30, and the game-winner in the Crew’s 2-1 road victory over Toronto FC on June 29. In the top ten in MLS for accurate passes with 1,604, Nagbe finished the season with a 92.7 accurate pass percentage.
LUCAS ZELARAYAN – LOWER.COM GOLDEN BOOT
Lucas Zelarayan earned his second consecutive Columbus Crew Golden Boot award after scoring a team-leading 10 goals in regular-season action. The Armenian international had two multi-goal games in 2022, a brace in the 3-3 road draw against the San Jose Earthquakes on March 5 and a brace, including the game-winner in the 75th minute, in a 3-2 victory over NYCFC on Aug. 6. Zelarayan led the league with six goals outside the 18-yard-box, which included a stunning free kick from midfield on Oct. 5. Zelarayan finished the season with 12 assists, becoming just the third Crew player to ever register double digit goals and assists in a single season.
ELOY ROOM – PATHWAYS FINANCIAL CREDIT UNION DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
For the second consecutive season, goalkeeper Eloy Room has been selected as the Defensive Player of the Year. One of only six players in MLS to play all 3,060 minutes in the 2022 season, Room led the team to nine clean sheets while recording 105 saves en route to a 1.21 goals against average. The Curacao international’s performances twice earned him MLSsoccer.com Team honors (Weeks 14 and 17).
ADIAN MORRIS – KIRK URSO HEART AWARD
Aidan Morris is the ninth player to receive this award after Kirk Urso was posthumously honored in the inaugural year of the special recognition in 2012. The Homegrown midfielder 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. After missing the entirety of the 2021 season with an ACL injury, Morris made his return to action in the 69th minute of the Crew’s 4-0 season opening victory on Feb. 26 and appeared in 27 total league matches this season (20 starts). The 20-year-old most recently was called-in for the U.S. U-20 Men’s Youth National Team’s training camp that ran from Oct. 25-Nov. 6 in Frisco, Texas.
JOSH WILLIAMS – OHIOHEALTH HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR
A true representative of the Club’s efforts in the community, Josh Williams has attended and supported all five mini pitch installations, including the Club’s fifth one, within Columbus City Schools, in 2022. He has served as the lead for the “Stuff The Backpack” initiative, which serves seven districts throughout Central Ohio and hosted a volunteer event at Lower.com Field to stuff thousands of backpacks with essential school supplies. In support of the Club’s “Stay in the Game” initiative to combat chronic absenteeism, Williams hosted post-match meet and greets with Columbus City Schools students following each home match. As a leader in the locker room, he has also served as a mentor for younger players to demonstrate the importance of giving back to the Columbus community.
JACEN RUSSELL-ROWE – AEP COLUMBUS CREW 2 PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jacen Russell-Rowe played an integral role for Crew 2 in the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season. Signed on March 18, the Brampton, Ontario native signed made an immediate impact. After scoring 11 goals in a nine-game span, he was rewarded with a Columbus Crew first team contract, becoming the first Crew 2 player to sign with the first team. Russell-Rowe had five multi-goal games in the regular season, including a four-goal explosion over FC Cincinnati II in the season finale, and captured the MLS NEXT Pro Golden Boot with 21 total goals, five more than his closest competitor. The following match, Russell-Rowe recorded a hattrick in the Eastern Conference Semifinal. For his efforts, Russell-Rowe was crowned MLS NEXT Pro MVP and scored the third goal in Crew 2’s 4-1 victory over St Louis CITY FC on Oct. 8 as the Black & Gold became the first-ever MLS NEXT Pro Cup champions.
GIO DeLIBERA – COLUMBIA GAS ACADEMY PLAYER OF THE YEAR
In recognition of his contributions to the Black & Gold’s Academy, midfielder Gio DeLibera has been named the Columbus Crew Academy Player of the Year. A player who does the little things that elevate those around him, the 17-year-old’s humility on and off the field serve as an example to his teammates. In 2022, his seventh season as a member of the Crew Academy, the midfielder helped the Crew U-17s reach the final in the MLS NEXT Cup and was named the tournament’s U-17 MVP for his contributions. In August, DeLibera was selected to represent the East in the first-ever MLS NEXT All-Star Game and represented the Crew as the East took the 2-1 victory over the West.
With excitement for the global game at its peak, soccer fans are encouraged to secure their 2023 Columbus Crew Season Ticket Memberships now. Fans interested in purchasing Season Ticket Memberships for the 2023 MLS season are encouraged to visit www.columbuscrew.com/tickets/memberships, call 614-447-2739 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get connected with a Season Ticket Member representative.
As previously announced, The Pub will be the place to gather with friends, for free, to watch electric action during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. With 22 days of World Cup match viewing -- including discounted beverages and globally themed, culinary dishes throughout the morning and afternoon – the Pub at Lower.com Field creates an unmatched location for soccer action as well as an awesome “work from home” spot for catching the excitement during the World Cup.
During the 2022 World Cup, Soccer fans supporting countries from across the world are welcome. As part of the more than three weeks of match viewing at the Crew’s home in Astor Park, the Black & Gold unveiled “Pride & Glory | A Global Soccer Celebration” presented by Nationwide. “Pride & Glory” will be a celebration of the global game during the World Cup.
All of the details for “Pride & Glory | A Global Soccer Celebration” presented by Nationwide, including a schedule of all the World Cup matches that will be shown at Lower.com Field, can be found here.