Crew Season Preview: The 15 best Crew players of all time

Chris DeVille
Kei Kamara

Will this be Crew SC's last season in Columbus? Hopefully not! Nonetheless, now seems like a good time to update Alive's 2008 list of the 15 greatest Crew players of all time.

This list recognizes players' contributions to the Crew, not their careers at large. It's informed by statistical feats, awards and contributions to the team's greatest triumphs — even if those contributions were limited to one or two seasons. And ultimately, it is subjective, so don't @ me (or at least be nice when you @ me).

15. Wil Trapp (M)

Trapp is not a glamorous player, but he glues the Crew together with savvy defense, ridiculously accurate passing and a resolute spirit. The hometown hero was essential to qualifying for MLS Cup 2015.

14. Justin Meram (M)

Over seven seasons, Meram went from rookie benchwarmer to workmanlike starter to elite winger terrorizing MLS defenses. Along the way, he helped Columbus come one goal shy of an MLS Cup title and scored 37 goals, sixth-best in team history. He'll be missed.

13. William Hesmer (GK)

Hesmer was between the pipes for the 2008 title run. Not only is he the franchise leader in shutouts (41), saves (412) and goals-against average (1.21), he also scored in Toronto in 2010. Goals by goalies don't come around too often; neither do goalies like William Hesmer.

12. Kei Kamara (F)

Kamara only had one good season in Columbus, but man was it good. After a league-best 22 goals in 2015, his towering overtime header versus Montreal clinched a trip to MLS Cup where he scored again while playing injured. Too bad about what happened next.

11. Brian Maisonneuve (M)

A versatile powerhouse and the best slide-tackler in franchise history — maybe even MLS history. He started in the 2002 U.S. Open Cup final.

10. Eddie Gaven (M)

Is there such a thing as a virtuoso utility midfielder? Former teen phenom Gaven did everything — score, assist, defend and especially hustle. He also scored the 2008 Eastern Conference Final game-winner to send Columbus to MLS Cup.

9. Brad Friedel (GK)

It's hard to overstate the difference Friedel made when he arrived late in the inaugural 1996 campaign: Columbus won nine of 10 matches and squeaked into the playoffs on the season's last day. He stuck around one more year and kept playing out of his mind.

8. Federico Higuain (M)

Pipa's 48 goals are third-most in Crew history. He helped Columbus qualify for MLS Cup 2015 and displays a combination of creativity and tenacity not seen in black and gold since Guillermo Barros Schelotto.

7. Robert Warzycha (M)

Before coaching the Crew, “The Polish Rifle” notched a club-best 61 assists, scored some electrifying free-kick goals and helped Columbus win the U.S. Open Cup and Supporters Shield.

6. Frankie Hejduk (D)

Not only was Hejduk a fiery defender and sneakily creative attacker, his contagious enthusiasm made him part captain, part mascot. Dude drank with fans in the Nordecke while suspended and scored a phenomenal goal in MLS Cup 2008. He's rad.

5. Jeff Cunningham (F)

Cunningham is tied for second on the all-time MLS goals list with 134. Sixty-four of those were for Columbus — including the first goal scored in Mapfre Stadium — making him the Crew's career scoring leader.

4. Stern John (F)

John led MLS with 26 goals in 1998 and tallied 18 more in 1999. That prolific haul — which included five(!) hat tricks — was enough to put him fourth on the Crew's all-time goals list despite playing only two seasons. Fear the “Stern turn.”

3. Chad Marshall (D)

The Crew's finest defender and a deadly aerial threat, Marshall won consecutive MLS Defender of the Year awards, played on all three of the Crew's Supporters Shield teams and headed home the game-winner in the 2008 MLS Cup. He leads Columbus in games started (250) and minutes played (22,220).

2. Brian McBride (F)

McBride scored twice in the first Crew game, including an insane, highlight-reel volley that became MLS Goal of the Year. From there he became the (sometimes battered) face of the team's early years, finally clinching a trophy with the 2002 U.S. Open Cup. An elite, acrobatic striker and perennial All-Star, McBride's 62 goals for Columbus are second only to Jeff Cunningham. He's Columbus royalty.

1. Guillermo Barros Schelotto (M)

Schelotto is the G.O.A.T., and it's not close. In 2008, he was MVP of MLS and of MLS Cup, where he delivered a record three assists including the aforementioned Hejduk goal off a lofted service few would have conceived or dared to attempt. He spearheaded Supporters Shield campaigns in '08 and '09. Beyond all the objective accomplishments on his watch were his intangibles. He was beloved by teammates and simply magical to watch — a creative genius who made everyone around him better. All these years later we're still bowing down to Guillermo.