Just in time for the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, the Columbus Crew officially announced Ben Speas as their latest Homegrown Player signing. Speas was most recently playing for North Carolina, scoring seven goals and registering 10 assists during his junior season. Among the goals was the game-winner in the College Cup final.
Unlike some of the other recent HGP signings, there was no doubt about the Crew's connection to Speas. The midfielder grew up as a Crew fan and was a product of their Academy before first enrolling at Akron, where he also won a national championship in 2010.
"I can’t wait to finally put on the Black & Gold," Speas said in a team release. "I've been going to Crew games since I was eight years old and have been able to see most of my coaches play at Crew Stadium, so this is a dream come true."
In addition to his two national championships in college, Speas also was on three youth national champions with various Crew teams and finished third in the U-17/18 Development Academy National Finals in 2008.
"Ben is a talented young player who we have had the good fortune to work with and watch develop over the last four years," Crew head coach Robert Warzycha said in a release. "He has the ability to get out of tight spaces quickly, combines well with others and has good vision. We are proud that he has earned the opportunity to progress to the professional level."
The addition of Speas is just the latest of what has turned into a very interesting offseason for the Crew. In December, they signed goalkeeper Matt Lampson as a HGP and in the past couple weeks they have signed Chilean midfielder Milovan Mirosevic and Costa Rican forward Olman Vargas. The Crew have also parted ways with last year's lone Designated Player, Andres Mendoza, and it now appears as if Robbie Rogers will be leaving the team to play in England.
For more on this signing, be sure to check out Crew blog Massive Report.