We asked defender Jonathan Mensah to pick his own five-a-side team consisting of players he's either played with or against during his career, including one current or former Crew SC teammate.
Zack Steffen (Goalkeeper, Fortuna Dusseldorf)
Background: Always one to share praise with his goalkeepers, the Ghanaian defender was able to see Steffen's growth as a professional, from a new signing with the Crew to a current loanee with Fortuna Dusseldorf from Manchester City.
Jonathan's Explanation: “Number one for me is Zack Steffen. He’s been incredible for [Crew SC], he’s been instrumental for the U.S. Men’s National Team and still only 25-years-old now, so he’s got great potential. I got the chance to play with him for three and a half years and I saw him grow and I can say boldly that he’s one of the best young goalkeepers in the world.”
Cristiano Ronaldo (Forward, Juventus)
Background: The two went head-to-head in the 2014 World Cup, which ended in a 2-1 final score in favor of Portugal, but not before showing a bit of class from Mensah, which is on display in this iconic photo.
Jonathan's Explanation: “Number two is Cristiano Ronaldo. [He is] one of the best football players ever, and to be able to play against him and contain him for the maximum period of the game, I think it was such an incredible feeling playing against one of the best ever to play the game.”
Stephen Appiah (Midfielder, Retired)
Background: A former Juventus player and standout for the Ghanaian National Team, Mensah and Appiah played alongside each other for Ghana, including in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where they helped lead Ghana to victory over the U.S. to reach the quarterfinals.
Jonathan's Explanation: “He’s a former Black Stars World Cup team member. He’s one of the great captains ever for Ghana, and it was great to play alongside him.”
Michael Essien (Midfielder, Sabail)
Background: Former Chelsea standout and undoubtedly one of the best Ghanaian players of all-time, Essien has won at the highest levels of the game and helped guide the Ghanaian National Team to a knockout round match in the 2006 World Cup before playing alongside Mensah in the 2014 World Cup.
Jonathan's Explanation: “Big guy. He won a Champions League, Europa League, a Premiership championship and a couple of FA Cups, so playing with someone like him is such a great honor for me.”
Darlington Nagbe (Midfielder, Crew SC)
Background: To put it succinctly, Mensah is much happier with Nagbe now on his side.
Jonathan's Explanation: “We all know the qualities he possesses, and the way he uses them on the field is just incredible, so he definitely is going to be on my top-five. [Laughing] It’s good to have him on my team because playing against him – [the Crew] and the whole league knows his quality – and if I’m going to have him on my team, that would be a great opportunity for me and my team.”