The Columbus Crew today announced that it has signed a pair of Homegrown Players: defender Ross Friedman from Harvard University and midfielder Matt Walker from Xavier University. With the signings, the Crew now has seven Homegrown Players on its active roster, tying FC Dallas for the League lead. Per club and MLS policy, terms of the agreements were not disclosed.
“I think these signings are a tribute to our youth development system and the type of players this club and this region are capable of producing,” said Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “Matt Walker is a dynamic player that has the ability to turn in tight spaces and take players on one-on-one, and he fits the style that we want to play. Ross Friedman is a versatile player that can play a number of positions and has a tremendous work rate. Both players have good soccer minds, and they are strong additions to the first team.”
Both players were members of the Crew Juniors Super-20 squad that captured the 2011 national title, and Walker was a member of the U-19 McGuire Cup-winning side in 2012. Friedman and Walker join five other Crew Soccer Academy products on the Black & Gold roster, including 2013 returnees Chad Barson, Matt Lampson, Ben Speas, Wil Trapp and Matt Wiet, who signed earlier this offseason. Barson, Lampson, Speas and Trapp set a record for Homegrown Players in an MLS starting lineup when the four took the field together at Real Salt Lake on August 24, 2013.
“To have seven Homegrowns on our first team roster is a great sign that our player development system is working,” said Andrew Arthurs, Crew Senior Vice President of Soccer Business Development and Executive Director of Crew Juniors. “We are very proud of Ross and Matt as they fulfill their dream of becoming professional players. They have both worked extremely hard to reach this point and I know they will do everything they can to make an impact at the next level.”
Friedman, a native of Bexley, Ohio, logged 56 career appearances in four seasons at Harvard, recording two goals and 17 assists. His team-leading six assists as a sophomore earned him a nod for All-Ivy League honorable mention. He nearly doubled his career high assists number his senior season when he dished-out 10 assists and scored one goal in 17 appearances – all of which were starts. During Super-20 Finals play with the Crew’s squad, he was named to back-to-back All-Tournament Teams in 2011 and 2012.
Hailing from Batavia, Ohio, Walker made 79 appearances during his four-year career in Cincinnati at Xavier University. During his tenure as a Musketeer, Walker scored 26 goals and added 24 assists, posting double-digit goal and assist numbers as a junior before finishing his senior season with nine goals and seven assists. In 2011, Walker was named Crew Soccer Academy’s Under-19/20 Player of the Year.