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Crew Signs Aaron Horton as First Home Grown Player

May 17, 2011 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Columbus Crew SC News Release

COLUMBUS - The Columbus Crew announced today that it has signed dynamic young forward Aaron Horton to a multi-year deal as the first Home Grown Player in club history. Per club and league policy no further terms of the deal were disclosed. (Video:'catid536&id14892)

A native of Lewis Center, Ohio, and product of Olentangy Orange High School and the Crew Soccer Academy, Horton spent one season at the University of Louisville, in which the Cardinals advanced to the NCAA Men's College Cup for the first time in school history and finished as the national runner-up. He spent the 2009-10 season with CSA and was a member of the Crew's 2010 USL Super 20s National Championship team last summer, where he was named tournament MVP.

"I'm ecstatic, it's a dream come true to sign with the club I grew up following and rooting for," Horton said. "I've been going to games at Crew Stadium since I was a kid, then played in the club's youth development program and (former Crew star) Brian Maisonneuve was my coach in (U.S. National Team U17) residency. Jeff Cunningham was my favorite player when I was a kid and to be his teammate now blows my mind."

In his one season at Louisville, the 5-9, 165-pound Horton, who turns 19 on Thursday, appeared in 23 games, scored three goals and added two assists. Two of the goals were dramatic game-winners in high-pressure situations. He came through when the stakes were highest, scoring in the final minute of both a 5-4 quarterfinal victory over UCLA and a 2-1 semifinal win over North Carolina, to send the Cards to the College Cup final, where they fell to Akron.

At Orange, Horton broke the school record for goals in a season with 30 and was named first-team all-state as a senior in 2009, after spending a year as a member of the U.S. Soccer Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla., in 2007.

"We are excited to welcome Aaron to our first team," said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha. "He is a very promising young player, who holds the ball well and has the speed to get behind defenses. He is a competitor and we look forward to accelerating his development in a professional environment."

Horton becomes the fifth local product to sign with the Crew, joining Eric Brunner (Dublin), Chris Leitch (Pickerington), Danny O'Rourke (Worthington) and Brandon Ward (Westerville).

"We are extremely proud of the growth and accomplishments of our youth club and player development system," said Crew President & General Manager Mark McCullers. "The signing of Aaron as our first Home Grown player is the product of years of hard work from our player development staff and exemplifies how the system works. Ohio has a great soccer tradition and has produced numerous professional soccer players, and this signing represents the future for populating the Crew roster."

A club may sign a player to his first professional contract without subjecting him to the MLS SuperDraft if the player has trained for at least one year in the club's youth development program and has met league criteria. Players joining MLS through this mechanism are known as Home Grown Players. There is no limit to the number of Home Grown Players a club may sign in a given year.

The Crew announced concurrently that Josh Williams has been placed on the Disabled List. The second-year defender has a torn right hip labral.

Founded by American sports pioneer Lamar Hunt, the Columbus Crew is Ohio's Major League Soccer club, anchoring a diverse sports and entertainment enterprise. One of the league's Charter Members, it won its first MLS Cup championship in 2008 and has also won the 2002 U.S. Open Cup and MLS Supporters' Shield titles in 2004, 2008 and 2009. It is in its 16th season overall and 13th at first-of-its-kind Crew Stadium.

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