One of the Columbus Crew’s newest players has been awarded a piece of Major League Soccer hardware on a day of sweeping roster moves for the club. One notable move saw the team bid farewell to a long-standing member of the organization.
Crew midfielder Federico Higuain was named the 2012 MLS Newcomer of the Year on Wednesday, according to the Acquired on July 27, Higuain tallied five goals and a team season-high seven assists in just 13 games. Higuain helped rally the Crew during the MLS Cup playoff race as the team finished outside of the five playoff-qualifying spots by a single point in the standings.
As part of the team’s personnel chances, the Crew said goodbye to goalkeeper William Hesmer, who missed the 2012 season after undergoing hip surgery. Hesmer, whose contract option for the 2013 season was declined by the club, spent six seasons with the Crew and holds club records for wins (59), saves (412) and shutouts (41). He was also in goal for Columbus when it won the 2008 MLS Cup championship.
“We want to thank William Hesmer for his six outstanding years of service in Columbus,” said Crew president and general manager Mark McCullers in a team release. “William has been a consummate professional during his time with the Crew and he helped this club achieve its highest honors during his tenure.”
Directly related to Hesmer’s departure were the club’s decisions to pick up the contract options for goalkeepers Andy Gruenebaum and former Ohio State men’s soccer player Matt Lampson – those were just three of 17 roster moves announced by the team midweek.
Gruenebaum started 33 games for Columbus during the 2012 season and allowed 41 goals. Lampson saw action in three games, playing 170 minutes, allowing three goals while getting credit for his first two professional victories.
The Crew also picked up contract options for defenders Eric Gehrig and Josh Williams, midfielders Bernardo Anor, Dilly Duka, Ethan Finlay and Kevan George and forwards Justin Meram and Aaron Schoenfeld.
Columbus native Danny O’Rourke, a defender, is out of contract with the Crew, as is fellow defender Carlos Mendes and forward Emilio Renteria, according to the club website. All three players are expected to receive offers to remain with the Crew, the website said.
Players that are sure to be on their way out of Crew Stadium and whose contract options were not renewed include defenders Rich Balchan, Julius James and Sebastian Miranda, midfielders Chris Birchall and Tony Tchani, and forward Tommy Heinemann.
The Crew did not immediately respond to The Lantern’s Wednesday request for comment.