One of the main catalysts for the Columbus Crew SC's impressive 2015 season will be sticking with the club for the foreseeable future.
Columbus Crew SC announced on Monday that they have signed Ethan Finlay to a contract extension, prolonging the midfielder's tenure in Black & Gold. Since the Marshfield, Wisconsin native's first Major League Soccer goal, on May 17, 2014 at Portland, his regular-season totals of 23 goals and 20 assists represent a combined amount (43) only exceeded by two other players in the League over that timespan: 2014 MLS Landon Donovan MVP Robbie Keane (55) and 2014 MLS Golden Boot winner Bradley Wright-Phillips (44). Per club and MLS policy, additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“Ethan has performed at an extremely high level over the past two seasons and we are pleased to have him commit to the club long term,” said Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter, in a press release. “He is an important part of the core of this team, has embraced the playing style and embodied the team culture from day one. We feel his national recognition is a result of his day-to-day efforts and we look forward to helping him build on his performances in 2016 and beyond.”
Finlay, 25, joined Crew SC as the 10th overall selection in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft on Jan. 12, 2012. In 2014, the midfielder experienced a breakout campaign under Berhalter, notching 11 goals and seven assists in 29 appearances (21 starts), sharing the club's Golden Boot award with Federico Higuain.
In 2015, Finlay built on his success to register 12 goals and 13 assists during the MLS regular season, establishing new career highs. He was named as a 2015 AT&T MLS All-Star as well as 2015 MLS Best XI, receiving both honors for the first time. Finlay is currently with the US national team at their annual January camp after earning his first international call-up last week, joined in Carson by teammates Tony Tchani and Wil Trapp, with the trio representing the most players from any one MLS club on the camp roster.
Finlay's 2015 totals of 12 goals and 13 assists represented just the second-ever individual season in Black & Gold history with double-digits in both categories, joining Jeff Cunningham in 2001, who recorded 10 tallies and 13 helpers. League-wide, only three other players joined Finlay at the double-digit plateau in both goals and assists in 2015: Sebastian Giovinco, Benny Feilhaber and Clint Dempsey.
“I've enjoyed my time at Columbus Crew SC and I'm honored to receive this extension,” said Finlay. “I hope we'll have many more good years ahead of us and I'm happy to be part of this organization for years to come.”
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On September 19, 2015, Finlay scored his 20th lifetime goal in Black & Gold, becoming the seventh person in club history to reach 20 career goals and 20 career assists. In doing so, he joined a club previously including Brian McBride, Jeff Cunningham, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Brian Maisonneuve, Federico Higuain and Eddie Gaven.