This past Monday, the Columbus Crew re-signed veteran midfielder and Columbus, Ohio, native Danny O’Rourke. O’Rourke has been a member of the Crew since 2007. He was a starting defender on the 2008 team that won both the MLS Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup. In 2009, O’Rourke was named the Most Valuable Player by the team.
O’Rourke can play anywhere along the back line, but his best spot is the defensive midfielder position. There, his athleticism and aggressiveness serve him best. O’Rourke is known around the league for his harsh challenges. He has been issued 35 yellow and 6 red cards during his 8 years in MLS. O’Rourke is arguably the only player on the Crew roster who can hold down the middle of the field by himself. Despite battling injuries the past three seasons, his versatility, leadership, and assertive play make him an important part of Columbus’ team. When healthy, O’Rourke is almost guaranteed a spot in the starting XI.
Another virtually guaranteed situation is the Homegrown signing of Chad Barson. Barson was a member of the 2008 U-18 Crew Academy national third-place team. He has also appeared on the U.S. U-15, U-17, and U-18 national teams.
Despite the Crew making no official announcement yet, the signing was widely reported on Twitter this past Thursday. Current Columbus player and fellow Homegrown signee Aaron Horton tweeted, “Yessss great to be teammates again with my bro Chad Barson!!!!” Horton and Barson both attended Olentangy High School for two years. Soccer by Ives also reported that the deal was a Generation Adidas deal:
Also on the Homegrown Player front, the Columbus Crew have reached a deal with Akron defender Chad Barson on a GA deal.—
Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) December 20, 2012
Barson, a central defender, recently completed his senior season at the University of Akron. While there, he started and played in every game except two and was the team captain the past two seasons. He partook in the 2010 NCAA Championship game against Louisville and Aaron Horton, which Akron won, 1-0. At Akron, Barson was also a two-year teammate of recent Crew Homegrown signee Wil Trapp.
The Crew are also rumored to be in Homegrown contract discussions with Justin Luthy, a goalie from Boston College, and Matt Wiet, a defender from UCLA.
Although a major part of the Crew since becoming the starting goalie in 2007, the recent departure of William Hesmer did not receive much attention. Hesmer missed the entire 2012 season due a preseason hip injury. In his absence, longtime backup Andy Gruenebaum shone while on a much smaller contract than Hesmer’s. Hesmer’s option was not picked up by the team at the end of the season, making him eligible for the MLS Re-Entry Draft. In the second stage of the draft held on December 14th, the LA Galaxy selected Hesmer.
In other Crew related news, former right-back Jed Zayner, most recently of the San Jose Earthquakes, quietly retired at the end of the 2012 season. The 28-year-old Zayner started 16 games in 2009 for Columbus and showed plenty of potential, but injuries unfortunately derailed his short career.