Sept. 16, 2010
Contact: Dan Carr
CLEVELAND, Ohio - Josh Williams, a former midfielder at Cleveland State, has signed a contract with the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer. The Crew announced the signing on Thursday (Sept. 16).
"We're very happy about it," said CSU head coach Ali Kazemaini. "Part of what we try to do at Cleveland State is attract next level talent and Josh is an example of somebody who was good enough to play professionally and trained hard enough to play professionally."
The Crew called Williams on Wednesday (Sept. 15) to offer him the contract. Williams signed it and drove to Columbus to officially join the team.
"They called me a couple days ago and asked me if I was in shape," Williams said. "I said, `I sure am.' They told me to just be ready, and then called me again yesterday to say I was on the team."
For Williams, signing with the Crew was more than just an opportunity to play professionally.
"It was a dream come true," Williams said. "My dad took me to the first Crew game their inaugural year and I remember watching the players and thinking that this is what I want to do. I want to be out there playing soccer. I've been a Crew fan ever since that game."
Williams got his first opportunity to play with the Crew back in April.
"The Crew invited me to play with them during the exhibition season," Williams said. "I guess I played well enough for them to keep me in mind."
Williams started 74 games for the Vikings between 2006 and 2009. As a senior last fall, he finished tied for fifth in the Horizon League in goals (6) and tied for seventh in points (14). His performance earned him first team All-Conference honors.
Williams finished his CSU career with 12 goals and eight assists for 32 points. His five game-winning goals were the most by any Viking between 2006-09.
"Josh came here not knowing if he would be able to play at the Division I level," Kazemaini said. "He's somebody who went from not knowing if he could play at this level to someone who will be playing professionally in just four years. We're glad we were able to help him develop."
Williams credited his success to the coaching he received from Kazemaini, a former professional soccer player with the Cleveland Force of the Major Indoor Soccer League.
"Coach Kaz prepared our team like he was preparing a professional team," Williams said. "He knew how the professionals trained, and that's how he coached us. It definitely helped ready me for playing with the Crew."
For now, Williams is focusing on moving from being on the team to cracking the game day lineup.
"I just want to perform well enough in practice to earn some time on the field," Williams said. "I'm going to work hard and show my coaches that I can play."