COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Columbus Crew announced the winners of its team awards tonight at its annual awards banquet held at the Southern Theatre in downtown Columbus.
They are as follows: Jon Busch, Honda Most Valuable Player; Robin Fraser, Crew Defender of the Year; Edson Buddle, Budweiser Scoring Champion; Duncan Oughton, Huntington Man of the Year; Simon Elliott, Crew Coaches Award; Chad Marshall, Crew Newcomer of the Year; Edson Buddle, Sierra Mist Goal of the Year; Brian Maisonneuve, OhioHealth Comeback Player of the Year; Nelson Akwari, U.S. Soccer Foundation Humanitarian of the Year; Chris Wingert, Crew Chiefs Hardest Working Man of the Year, and Susie Gasbarro, Crew Fan of the Year. Below is a summary of each award winner.
JON BUSCH - Crew Honda Most Valuable Player
In recognition of his outstanding play this season, the Crew Honda Most Valuable Player Award is presented to goalkeeper Jon Busch. Busch has put together one of the finest seasons in Crew history. The third-year goalkeeper finished the season first in MLS in wins (12), tied for first in shutouts (10), second in saves (132) and tied for third in goals against average (1.07). The 1.07 goals against average is the lowest ever for a Crew single season, besting the 1.09 goals against average Busch posted in 2002. The diminutive goalkeeper tied the Crew single-game record for saves with 12. He sits first on the all-time Crew goalkeeping list for saves (293), winning percentage (60 percent) and shutouts (19). The outstanding season has put Busch in elite company for all-time MLS goalkeepers, ranking fourth all-time in goals against average (1.21), fourth for winning percentage (60 percent) and eighth in shutouts (19).
ROBIN FRASER - Crew Defender of the Year
The Crew is proud to present its Defender of the Year award to Robin Fraser. An MLS original, Fraser continues to play at an elite level and is one of the frontrunners for MLS Defender of the Year. Now in his ninth MLS season, the former No. 4 overall pick in the inaugural MLS draft in 1996, Fraser has anchored a Crew defense that gave up just 32 goals in 30 games, good for second best in the league. The Jamaica native has also helped rookie defender Chad Marshall make a seamless transition to the professional game. Fraser started 28 games this year and played the second most minutes on the team. For his career, Fraser is fifth all-time in MLS in games played with 231 and tied for fourth in games started with 227. He is also just the fifth player ever to surpass 20,000 minutes played.
EDSON BUDDLE - Crew Budweiser Scoring Champion
Budweiser is proud to present the Budweiser Scoring Champion Award to the player who, over the course of the regular season, amassed the most combined points through goals scored and assists. For the first time in his four-year MLS career, The Crew's Budweiser Scoring Champ is forward Edson Buddle. Buddle led the team with 11 goals and two assists for 24 points. He also led the Black & Gold with five game-winning goals, including the goal that gave The Crew a 1-0 win at Chicago on Oct. 6 and clinched Columbus' first-ever Eastern Conference regular-season title. Buddle also set a team record with a four-goal outburst in a 4-2 win over the MetroStars on September 18. His 24 points ranked tied for ninth in MLS, his 11 goals tied for third, and his five game-winning goals tied for second. For his career, Buddle sits fourth on The Crew goal list with 33 and sixth in points with 79.
DUNCAN OUGHTON - Huntington Man of the Year
Huntington is proud to present the 2004 Huntington Man of the Year award to Duncan Oughton. The Huntington Man of the Year award is presented to the player who embodies an exceptional sense of leadership, civic pride, family values and community service. Oughton is in his fourth year with The Crew and has been a valuable asset to the organization both on and off the field. The New Zealand native was The Crew's first round draft pick in 2001 and has appeared in 91 games over his four seasons. Oughton has played in 28 games this year, 21 starts. He notched his first career goal this year on August 21 vs. D.C., but it was his second career goal that was historic. His goal in The Crew's 1-1 tie at Colorado on October 16 helped Columbus capture its first-ever Supporters' Shield for the top regular-season record in MLS.
SIMON ELLIOTT - Crew Coaches Award
The Crew is proud to present its 2004 Coaches Award to midfielder Simon Elliott. Selected by the Crew coaching staff, the award is presented to the player they considered to be the most coachable and to possess all of the characteristics of a true team player, including attitude and work ethic. The six-year MLS veteran had another outstanding season, leading The Crew in assists with 10. His 10 assists finished tied for second in MLS. Acquired in an offseason trade from L.A., The Crew tri-captain had a penchant for timely assists. Five of his 10 assists were game-winners, which was tied for first in MLS. The New Zealand native has 43 career assists, which puts him tied for 18th all-time in MLS history with teammate Jeff Cunningham.
CHAD MARSHALL - Crew Newcomer of the Year
The Crew is proud to present its Newcomer of the Year award to rookie defender Chad Marshall. Marshall was the second overall pick in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft out of Stanford, and the 20-year-old hasn't disappointed. The rookie defender has stepped right into the Crew starting lineup and established himself as the leading candidate for MLS Rookie of the Year. The California native has seen action in 28 games, while starting 27, and played the third-most minutes of any player on the team. He has helped The Crew defense to the second best goals against average in the league, while also being a dangerous target on set pieces. Marshall tallied an assist on July 17 for his first career point.
EDSON BUDDLE - Crew Sierra Mist Goal of the Year
Sierra Mist is proud to present its Crew Goal of the Year award to fourth-year forward Edson Buddle. In the nine-year history of the Columbus Crew, there may not have been a more important goal scored than Buddle's goal on Oct. 6 in Chicago. When Buddle slammed home a swerving free kick from 23-yards in the 59th minute, he gave The Crew a 1-0 victory and its first-ever regular season Eastern Conference title. The New York native has had a stellar season, leading the Black & Gold with a career-high 11 goals. Buddle also erupted for a team-record four goals in a 4-2 win over the MetroStars on September 18 at Crew Stadium. Despite his record setting performance against the MetroStars, his goal on Oct. 6 in Chicago is one of the most important goals in Crew history.
BRIAN MAISONNEUVE - OhioHealth Comeback Player of the Year
OhioHealth is proud to present its Comeback Player of the Year award to midfielder Brian Maisonneuve. Maisonneuve is the only original member of the Crew remaining and one of three captains this year. The veteran midfielder has battled right ankle injuries and surgeries since 1998, including his fifth surgery in December of 2003. The most recent surgery forced the former Indiana Hoosier to miss most of spring training and a number of games earlier this year. The ankle problems haven't stopped the MLS veteran from appearing in 172 games all-time for Columbus, which ranks third on the all-time Crew games played list. Over nine seasons, Maisonneuve has totaled 83 career points, notching 23 goals and 37 assists. He ranks fifth all-time in points and fourth in assists for The Crew.
NELSON AKWARI - Crew U.S. Soccer Foundation Humanitarian of the Year
The U.S. Soccer Foundation is proud to present its Crew Humanitarian of the Year Award to Columbus defender Nelson Akwari. Akwari has been a visible community ambassador for The Crew and MLS, giving freely of his time to make numerous public appearances throughout his two seasons in Columbus. In addition to being one of the club's most positive and reliable representatives, Akwari also devotes much of his personal time to working with Urban Concern, a ministry of Xenos Christian Fellowship, which has received national and local awards for its service to the South Linden community of Columbus.
CHRIS WINGERT - Crew Chiefs Hardest Working Man of the Year
The Crew Chiefs supporters sponsor the Hardest Working Man of the Year Award and they have selected, in consultation with the Crew front office and coaching staff, rookie midfielder Chris Wingert. The versatile Wingert has exemplified everything that the award's name implies, playing gritty, hard-nosed minutes while earning a starting position on a veteran team midway through the season. Wingert was the No. 12 overall pick by The Crew in the 2004 SuperDraft out of St. John's, where he was the first player in NCAA history to win the Collegiate Player of the Year award and the Academic Player of the Year award in the same season. The New York native tallied two assists this season while appearing in 22 games, 16 of them starts.
SUSIE GASBARRO - Crew Fan of the Year
A season ticket holder since the inaugural season in 1996, Susie Gasbarro has been chosen as the 2004 Columbus Crew Fan of the Year. Gasbarro has supported The Crew for nine seasons both on and off the field, attending almost every Crew game as well as numerous U.S. National Team games at Crew Stadium. She has been a secretary in the Franklin County Commissioners office for 19 years and is currently the secretary for County Commissioner Arlene Shoemaker. The energetic Gasbarro is not one to hide her passion for The Crew, as her friends and co-workers can attest.