Crew View: Josh Williams is catching fire

Chris DeVille

You know that Green Day song “Wake Me Up When September Ends”? Columbus Crew SC defender Josh Williams may be wishing he could extend his dream September indefinitely.

Williams, 29, began his second stint with Crew SC this season. A native of Copley, Ohio, he signed with Columbus in 2010 and, after surviving an injury-derailed 2011, became a club fixture from 2012-2014. His tenure as semi-local hero was interrupted by a trade to New York City and a subsequent move to Toronto, but Columbus reacquired him this past offseason.

Although coach Gregg Berhalter has frequently rotated his defensive backline this season, Williams has worked his way into a consistent starting center-back role during the homestretch, helping shore up the defense throughout a seven-match unbeaten streak that significantly improved Crew SC's playoff chances. This past weekend he made an offensive impact, too: His first goal since 2013 was the game winner in a crucial home victory over New York Red Bulls.

Williams toldThe Columbus Dispatchhe had sensed he would score a goal after watching fellow center-back Jonathan Mensah head home a Federico Higuain corner kick earlier in the match. Williams scored under similar circumstances, noting, “Pipa (Higuain) put it right on my head, so all I had to do was have a little courage and stick my head in there.” Both Williams and Higuain (who tacked on a third assist to Justin Meram between his feeds to Mensah and Williams) earned MLS Team of the Week honors for their efforts.

Under normal circumstances, a game-winning header would be a defender's obvious highlight for the month, but Williams also got to throw out the first pitch at game 20 of the Cleveland Indians' record-breaking 22-game win streak, a huge honor for a Northeast Ohio boy. He threw a strike, too — this with a finger injury on his throwing hand and his cellphone buzzing during his windup, according toSteve Sirk's reportat the Crew SC website.

Williams also managed not to jinx the win streak. As he told Sirk, “If they had lost, I was going to ban myself from Progressive Field for the rest of the year.” Instead, the Tribe kept rolling. And as they approach their final regular season home game versus DC United on Saturday, Sept. 30, Williams and Crew SC are on a little roll of their own.