NASL’s Minnesota United FC announced the signing of former Columbus Crew SC homegrown player Ben Speas just weeks before the beginning of their 2016 season.
Speas, 25, brings MLS experience and an attacking mindset to the NASL side currently preparing to enter MLS in 2017. Speas spent four seasons with Crew SC, making 41 appearances and providing two goals and four assists for Columbus. In the 2014 MLS Expansion Draft, Speas was not initially among the 11 players protected by Columbus but was protected once Jario Arrieta was selected by Orlando City SC with the 11th pick. Speas made eight appearances with Crew SC in 2015, but his contract was not renewed at the end of the season.
Upon joining Minnesota, Speas spoke enthusiastically about his new role in a club release. “It’s a great opportunity for me to play here in Minnesota,” said Speas. “I spoke with Manny Lagos and Carl Craig and they are building something great here. It’s an exciting time for soccer in the Twin Cities and I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”
Speas, a native of Stow, Ohio, was a part of nearby University of Akron’s NCAA College Cup championship in 2010, the first national title in school history. Speas then transferred to the University of North Carolina in 2011, where he once again won the national title, this time scoring the game winning goal and being named College Cup MVP.
Minnesota United will be taking part in the preseason Simple Invitational tournament against MLS clubs Portland Timbers, Chicago Fire and Vancouver Whitecaps at Providence Park in Portland, OR from Feb. 21-27. Their final NASL season begins April 2 against the Carolina Railhawks.