JJ Williams (soccer)

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JJ Williams
Williams JJ Columbus Crew SC Meet the Team 2019.jpg
Williams at a Columbus Crew SC event in 2019.
Personal information
Full name Jerome Williams Jr.
Date of birth (1998-01-04) January 4, 1998 (age 22)
Place of birth Clovis, New Mexico, United States
Height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)[1]
Playing position Forward
Club information
Current team
Columbus Crew SC
Number 33
College career
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2016–2018 Kentucky Wildcats 57 (24)
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2016 Birmingham Hammers 5 (0)
2017 Reading United 7 (1)
2018 Dayton Dutch Lions 12 (7)
2019– Columbus Crew SC 7 (0)
2019Birmingham Legion (loan) 21 (7)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of October 26, 2019

Jerome Williams Jr. (born January 4, 1998) is an American professional soccer player who plays as a forward for Major League Soccer club Columbus Crew SC. He previously appeared at the semi-professional level for Birmingham Hammers, Reading United, and Dayton Dutch Lions and spent time on loan with Birmingham Legion.

Although he was born in Clovis, New Mexico, Williams grew up in Montgomery, Alabama and attended Alabama Christian Academy. After scoring 122 goals while in high school, he spent three years playing at the University of Kentucky. Williams was a Hermann Trophy finalist in 2018, the same year that he was a first team all-American and the C-USA Men's Soccer Player of the Year. He also spent time during the collegiate offseason with Birmingham Hammers, Reading United, and Dayton Dutch Lions. Williams signed a Generation Adidas contract with Major League Soccer ahead of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft and was selected in the first round by Columbus Crew SC.

Early life[edit]

Born in Clovis, New Mexico, Williams moved to Alabama as a child and grew up in Montgomery. He began playing soccer at the age of nine, joining the Capital City Streaks youth club[2] and playing for regional Olympic Development Program teams. With the ODP, he played in Costa Rica and Italy and earned an invitation to train with the youth teams of ChievoVerona.[3] Williams attended Alabama Christian Academy in Montgomery, playing three years on varsity for the Eagles. He combined for 57 goals across his sophomore and junior seasons before breaking out as a senior with 65 goals and 20 assists.[4] Williams was a two-time All-Metro player of the year in Montgomery and was named the 2016 AHSAA Boys Soccer Player of the Year.[5]

At club level, Williams appeared for Vestavia Hills Soccer Club in Vestavia Hills, winning three State Cup championships.[6] He committed to play college soccer at Kentucky, one of seven members of the 2016 class for the Wildcats.[7]

College and amateur[edit]

On August 26, 2016, Williams came off the bench to make his collegiate debut in a 4–0 victory away to Marquette.[8] He went on to make 18 appearances on the season, tallying three goals and three assists while primarily coming off the bench. Williams scored his first collegiate goal on October 5, with his 73rd-minute strike providing the winning goal in a 3–1 victory over Evansville.[9] He added his first NCAA tournament goal on November 20, albeit in a 3–2 loss to Creighton in the second round.[10] At the end of the season, he was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team.[11] As a sophomore, Williams tied for the team lead in goals, with three, and added four assists in 17 appearances. He started just once on the season, but scored with a penalty kick as part of a 1–1 draw with nationally-ranked Xavier on September 20, 2017.[12] Although the Wildcats were eliminated in the first round of the C-USA Tournament, Williams was named Third Team All-CUSA.[13]

Williams broke out as a junior to become "perhaps the nation's top attacking threat", tallying 18 goals and eight assists in 22 matches.[14] He scored two goals in a match four times, notably against Louisville on September 4, 2018 and against Portland in the second round of the NCAA tournament.[15] The goals against Portland capped off a stretch of nine goals in nine games for Williams. In leading the Wildcats to the C-USA regular season and tournament titles, Williams was named as the C-USA Player of the Year, Offensive MVP, and Tournament MVP. His 18 goals were third-most in the nation and a Kentucky single-season record.[15] He was named as a finalist for the Hermann Trophy,[16] but lost out on the award to Andrew Gutman of Indiana.[17] Williams departed Kentucky following the season, ending his collegiate career with 24 goals and 15 assists from 57 appearances.[15]

Birmingham Hammers[edit]

Following his high school graduation, and before joining the team at Kentucky, Williams spent time in the National Premier Soccer League with expansion club Birmingham Hammers. He was not initially on the roster, but was added midway through the season and made his debut against Nashville FC on June 12.[18] In his second match for the Hammers, Williams was sent off in the 72nd minute of a 2–0 defeat against Chattanooga FC after a collision with Chattanooga goalkeeper Greg Hartley.[19] He finished the season with five appearances for Birmingham.

Reading United[edit]

Ahead of his sophomore season at Kentucky, Williams joined Premier Development League club Reading United. He made his debut for the side on May 13, 2017, playing nine minutes in a 3–1 victory over Lehigh Valley United.[20] Williams scored his first Reading goal on May 20, a tally two minutes into second half stoppage time in a 3–2 defeat against New York Red Bulls U-23.[21] He scarcely appeared through the remainder of the season, however, closing his time with Reading with one goal from seven appearances.[20]

Dayton Dutch Lions[edit]

Williams returned to the Premier Development League ahead of his junior collegiate season, joining up with Dayton Dutch Lions. He debuted for the club on May 18, playing the full 90 minutes in a 1–1 draw against West Virginia Alliance.[22] On his fifth appearance, he scored his first goal for the Dutch Lions, a 19th-minute tally in a 3–1 defeat to Lansing United on June 9.[23] After scoring just once in his first eight games for the club, Williams pounded in seven goals in his last five appearances. Beginning with a two-goal game against Derby City Rovers on June 27,[24] he added a goal against Cincinnati Dutch Lions on July 3[22] and scored a hat trick against Cincinnati on July 13.[25] He added a goal in the playoffs against Chicago FC United, although Dayton fell by a 5–3 scoreline.[26] Williams scored eight times in 13 appearances during his lone season with the Dutch Lions.[22]

Club career[edit]

Columbus Crew SC[edit]

Ahead of the 2019 MLS Combine, Williams signed a Generation Adidas contract with Major League Soccer, making hime one of seven members of the GA class.[27] He was selected by Columbus Crew SC with the 18th overall pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, the second consecutive year that Columbus had drafted a Generation Adidas player (in 2018, the Crew chose Edward Opoku in the second round). The selection was the first roster move made by the Crew's new leadership, president Tim Bezbatchenko and head coach Caleb Porter, after they were elevated to those roles on January 4.[28][29]

2019 – Loan to Birmingham[edit]

Williams made his professional and Crew debut on March 23, coming off the bench against Philadelphia Union to replace Patrick Mullins.[30] He received praise for bringing "some energy to the field" in his 35 minutes on the pitch.[31] In order to get game minutes throughout the season, Williams spent multiple spells on loan with USL Championship club Birmingham Legion FC.[32] The first of those loan spells was announced on April 12, with Williams making his debut for the Legion the next day.[33] He replaced Chandler Hoffman in the 52nd minute against Saint Louis FC, going on to score two goals in a six-minute span to help Birmingham earn a 3–2 victory. Those marked the first two professional goals of Williams' career.[34] After a two-week spell back in Columbus, Williams rejoined the Legion on May 9 on a game-by-game basis.[35] He again returned to the Crew in late June, appearing off the bench in a home defeat against Sporting Kansas City on June 23;[36] following that match, Williams started the Crew's next three games as Gyasi Zardes was on international duty.[37][1] On July 13, the Crew confirmed that Williams would be sent back to Birmingham for his third loan spell with the Legion.[38] He would spend the remainder of the 2019 season in Alabama, helping the Legion qualify for the 2019 USL Championship Playoffs in their first year of existence. In the Eastern Conference Play-In match against North Carolina FC, Williams provided the winning goal: his strike three minutes into stoppage time handed Birmingham a 3–2 victory in their first-ever playoff match.[39] On the season, Williams played in 32 games and scored eight goals between the two clubs: nine appearances in Columbus, and the remainder coming while on loan in Birmingham.[40]

Career statistics[edit]

As of October 26, 2019[40][41]
Club Season League Cup[a] Continental Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Birmingham Hammers 2016 NPSL 5 0 5 0
Reading United 2017[20] PDL 7 1 0 0 0 0 7 1
Dayton Dutch Lions 2018[22] PDL 12 7 1[b] 1 13 8
Columbus Crew SC 2019 MLS 7 0 2 0 9 0
Birmingham Legion (loan) 2019 USL Championship 21 7 0 0 2[c] 1 23 8
Career total 52 15 2 0 0 0 3 2 57 17
  1. ^ All appearances in the U.S. Open Cup
  2. ^ Appearance in the PDL playoffs
  3. ^ Appearances in the USL Championship playoffs

Honors[edit]

Team[edit]

Kentucky[15]
Dayton Dutch Lions

Individual[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "JJ Williams – Columbus Crew SC profile". ColumbusCrewSC.com. Columbus Crew SC. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  2. ^ Dunn, Graham (January 12, 2019). "Former ACA soccer star Williams makes history as first local player taken in MLS draft". RiverRegionSports.com. River Region Sports. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  3. ^ Bernal, Ethan (March 21, 2015). "ACA's J.J. Williams plays soccer overseas". MontgomeryAdvertiser.com. Montgomery Advertiser. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  4. ^ Bean, Josh (May 10, 2016). "Alabama Christian's J.J. Williams named state's best boys high school soccer by Gatorade". AL.com. Alabama Media Group. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  5. ^ Long, A. Stacy (January 15, 2019). "For ACA's Williams, making Crew's first-round queue 'a dream come true'". MontgomeryAdvertiser.com. Montgomery Advertiser. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  6. ^ Wisenhunt, Corey (April 19, 2018). "Williams, Moore & Burton join DDL Men's team". DDLFC.com. Dayton Dutch Lions. Retrieved February 14, 2019. the driving force behind three Alabama State Cup championships with his Vestavia Hills club.
  7. ^ "UK Soccer Announces 2016 Recruiting Class". UKAthletics.com. Kentucky Athletics. March 3, 2016. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  8. ^ "Marquette 0–4 Kentucky" (PDF). UKAthletics.com. Kentucky Athletics. August 26, 2016. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  9. ^ "Matsoso Scores Brace and Assists in 3-1 Win at Evansville". UKAthletics.com. Kentucky Athletics. October 6, 2016. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  10. ^ "Creighton Edges Kentucky in Wild NCAA Second Round Showdown". UKAthletics.com. Kentucky Athletics. November 20, 2016. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  11. ^ a b "Matsoso, Wilson Lead UK Soccer's 2016 C-USA Awards". UKAthletics.com. Kentucky Athletics. November 8, 2016. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  12. ^ Ahmad, Mohammad (September 21, 2017). "Battle of Top 25 men's soccer teams ends in draw". KYKernel.com. Kentucky Kernel. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  13. ^ a b "MSOC: 2017 All-Conference Awards Announced". ConferenceUSA.com. Conference USA. November 7, 2017. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  14. ^ Fisher, Chris (January 12, 2019). "Kentucky's JJ Williams taken in first round of MLS Super Draft". 247Sports.com. CatsPause.com. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h "JJ Williams – Kentucky profile". UKAthletics.com. Kentucky Athletics. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  16. ^ "MAC Hermann Trophy Finalists Announced". UnitedSoccerCoaches.com. United Soccer Coaches. December 7, 2018. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  17. ^ Culver, Jordan (January 4, 2019). "Hermann Trophy winners are Indiana's Andrew Gutman, Stanford's Catarina Macario". ProSoccerUSA.com. Pro Soccer USA. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  18. ^ "Birmingham Hammers (@bhamhammers) on Instagram". Instagram.com. Instagram. June 12, 2016. Retrieved February 11, 2019. Tonight's starting XI for tonight's match against Nashville FC! #hammerdown #lovemyhammers
  19. ^ "NPSL Game of the Week: Chattanooga defeats Birmingham in front of 4,293". NPSL.com. National Premier Soccer League. June 19, 2016. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  20. ^ a b c "JJ Williams – Reading profile". USLLeagueTwo.com. USL League Two. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  21. ^ Doyle, Sean (May 26, 2017). "United look to rebound at home against F.A. Euro". ReadingUnitedAC.com. Reading United AC. Retrieved February 10, 2019. ...while Jerome Williams came off the bench to score his first goal in a Reading United jersey.
  22. ^ a b c d "JJ Williams – Dayton profile". USLLeagueTwo.com. USL League Two. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  23. ^ Wisenhunt, Corey (June 13, 2018). "Lions Suffer First Loss". DDLFC.com. Dayton Dutch Lions. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  24. ^ Wisenhunt, Corey (June 29, 2018). "6–0 rout in KY". DDLFC.com. Dayton Dutch Lions. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  25. ^ a b Wisenhunt, Corey (July 14, 2018). "4–0 Win....Champs". DDLFC.com. Dayton Dutch Lions. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  26. ^ Wisenhunt, Corey (July 22, 2018). "Playoff = Tough Loss". DDLFC.com. Dayton Dutch Lions. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  27. ^ Henry Jr., Larry (January 1, 2019). "Report: Frankie Amaya headlines seven-player Generation adidas class". SBISoccer.com. SBI Soccer. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  28. ^ Murphy, Pat (January 11, 2019). "The Crew select JJ Williams 18th in SuperDraft". MassiveReport.com. SB Nation. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  29. ^ Ferree, Ben (January 4, 2019). "Columbus Crew SC hire Tim Bezbatchenko and Caleb Porter". ProSoccerUSA.com. Pro Soccer USA. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  30. ^ "Philadelphia Union 3–0 Columbus Crew SC". ColumbusCrewSC.com. Columbus Crew SC. March 23, 2019. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  31. ^ Torres, Guilherme (March 24, 2019). "Game Grades: Crew at Philadelphia Union". MassiveReport.com. SB Nation. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  32. ^ @_Pat_Murphy (April 11, 2019). "Caleb Porter said today that a few #Crew96 players will go on loan just for the weekend to get game minutes with an eye on the three games in eight days that the team has coming up" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  33. ^ Murphy, Pat (April 12, 2019). "Kempin, Argudo, Williams sent on one-game loans to USL Championship teams". MassiveReport.com. SB Nation. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  34. ^ Guldan, Patrick (April 16, 2019). "Loan report: A busy week away from the Crew". MassiveReport.com. SB Nation. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  35. ^ Humphries, Clayton (May 9, 2019). "Forward JJ Williams rejoins Legion FC to take on Louisville City FC". BHMLegion.com. Birmingham Legion FC. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  36. ^ "Columbus Crew SC 0–1 Sporting Kansas City". ColumbusCrewSC.com. Columbus Crew SC. June 23, 2019. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  37. ^ Murphy, Pat (June 29, 2019). "JJ Williams is proving he should be on the field for the Crew". MassiveReport.com. SB Nation. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  38. ^ @_Pat_Murphy (July 11, 2019). "Caleb Porter said today that rookie forward JJ Williams will likely be loaned out again after the additions of Romario Williams and Jordan Hamilton. #Crew96 Here is Porter on JJ" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  39. ^ Wray, Cheryl (October 23, 2019). "Birmingham Legion FC earns road win in USL playoffs". AL.com. Alabama Media Group. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  40. ^ a b JJ Williams at Soccerway
  41. ^ JJ Williams at Major League Soccer

External links[edit]