Columbus Crew SC today announced that it has signed Crew SC Academy product and defender Alex Crognale as a Homegrown Player. In 2016, the 6-foot-5 defender was an All-American, Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, a First Team All-Big Ten selection and a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist in his senior season at the University of Maryland. Crognale becomes the third Homegrown Player on Crew SC’s active roster – joining Wil Trapp and Ben Swanson – and is the 11th Homegrown Player signing in club history.
During his collegiate career, Crognale, the Gahanna, Ohio native, made 73 appearances (69 starts) in his four years at Maryland, scoring 11 goals and tallying three assists. The defender and his teammates from the 2013-2016 seasons recorded a +84 goal differential over the four seasons. The best single-season goal differential with Crognale on the roster came in 2016, his final season, recording a +29 differential, as Maryland scored 53 goals and allowed just 24.
“Alex Crognale has been a member of the Crew SC family for many years and it is an exciting day to welcome him to the First Team,” said Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “Alex is a talented, young defender and we look forward to his development in his first season as a professional. We’re certainly proud of his accomplishments while in college and it is always a positive moment for the club when it can reward one if its own with a professional contract. The success of the Academy continues to be a major focus for us as an organization and so we’re certainly pleased to have another Homegrown Player on the Black & Gold roster.”
As a junior, Crognale received a Second Team All-Big Ten selection and helped guide Maryland to 10 shutouts in 22 matches in the 2015 season. He captained the young Maryland squad to a third straight Big Ten tournament title in 2016. He scored six goals his senior season while he also lead the team to a program-record 15 consecutive wins in a 16-0-2 unbeaten 2016 regular season. Crognale and the Terrapins also matched a school record of five consecutive clean sheets in the 2016 regular season.
Crognale is now the second former Terrapin on the Crew SC roster, joining teammate, goalkeeper Zack Steffen. The two began playing together at Maryland in 2013 and played two seasons together before Steffen signed with German side Freiburg.
Crognale spent four years in the Crew SC Academy, from 2010 to 2013. During his time in the Crew SC Academy Under-19 team, Crognale won the Ohio South State Cup back-to-back in 2012 and 2013. He also saw action in several Reserve League matches for Crew SC, including a full 90 minutes against D.C. United in 2012.