What’s In A Number?



Rundown begins today with a heart-warming story courtesy of Minnesota United’s team website. Goalkeeper Matt Lampson discusses the reason he wears shirt number 28. Rundown isn’t going to edit the story and presents it as the Loons do, with credit to their club site.

As a high school senior in 2007 at St. Charles Preparatory in Columbus, Ohio, Lampson was diagnosed with Stage 4B Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The diagnosis and several rounds of brutal chemotherapy took their toll on Lampson physically, leaving him bald, weak and 100 pounds overweight thanks to the anabolic steroids he was on.

“Coming out of high school,” he said, “I was not recruited at all. I went to Northern Illinois University. It was one of the only D1 schools – actually, the only D1 school – to offer me to come on the team. I didn’t get any money – it was a walk on. So I went there, because I wanted to play D1. I was still having complications from chemotherapy and radiation. Healthwise, I wasn’t doing so great. But at the same time, I was not happy there. With the soccer, with the school. None of it.

“So I contacted John Bluem at Ohio State, and I said, ‘I would love to come play for Ohio State.’ I was just looking to walk on, I didn’t expect to play. And he said, yes we could use a fourth goalkeeper.” Lampson paused. “Which, to me, at the time, I was like oh, that’s great. I redshirted, so I came in in the second semester, and they gave me locker 28. Which, as everyone knows, 28 is not a goalkeeper’s number. Basically it was like a ‘you’re on the team, but you’re never going to play’ type of number.”

By the spring, he was the Buckeyes’ starting goalkeeper, ultimately playing in 56 matches. His 0.86 goals against average set a school record. The number 28 became a symbol of “the workman’s mentality that I not only needed to win the starting job there, but be a Big Ten Freshman of the Year, All Big Ten, everything like that. All those things that I needed to get me where I am today, I wanted to maintain.”

His experience overcoming cancer led him to start the LampStrong Foundation and become one of MLS’ most active community members. He was named the MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year in 2016 for his work with young cancer patients and their families.

“So I’ve had [28] every year,” he said. “I kept it at Ohio State. I kept it in Columbus. I kept it in Chicago. So I wanted to keep it here. It’s just a mentality. It’s a reminder – a daily reminder of what I need to do in order to succeed at the game I love.”

This is, fundamentally, how weight and meaning accrue to just about anything. What is tradition if not making an often random and meaningless world make sense by hanging onto what it gives us? A number by itself doesn’t mean anything – until we make it mean something.


Vancouver Whitecaps have welcomed former Orlando City centre back Jose Aje in exchange for an initial fee of $125,000 in 2019 Targeted Allocation Money

Orlando will also receive an additional $100,000 in TAM if the Uruguayan remains in the Whitecaps’ squad for the 2019 season, in addition to Vancouver’s 2021 natural second-round SuperDraft pick if Aja remains with the club during the 2020 campaign. The Lions will also retain a percentage of any future transfer fee if Aja is transferred outside of MLS.

“Jose is a player who I first identified while scouting Cristian Techera in Uruguay three years ago,” said Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson in a club statement. “He’s a big lad who is very comfortable on the ball. He will add another dimension to the group and complement our backline well, and he understands the league now after playing in MLS for 18 months. We’re excited to welcome him to our team and continue to help him grow to his full potential.”

Orlando City acquired Aja on a six-month loan from Uruguay’s Club Nacional de Football in July 2016 and later signed him to a four-year contract that December. He played and started in 15 of City’s 34 league games last year and becomes the third Uruguayan on VWFC’s roster.


Colorado Rapids have announced their latest Homegrown signing, signing left back Sam Vines on a three-year contract.

Vines, 18, joins after coming through the ranks of the Rapids academy. He first began with the program in 2013 as a 13-year-old, Vines has been a regular in the US national team youth squads, and last year he was named in the National Development Academy Best XI.

“This is a special signing for us,” said Rapids executive vice president & general manager Pádraig Smith in a club statement. “Not only is Sam a very talented young player with a bright future, but having come up through our academy system we know first-hand how much effort both he and his family have put in to getting to this point. We look forward to helping him reach his potential.”

Any Other Business…

Molde’s Ruben Gabrielsen turned down move to MLS, according to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer… El Once report that Real España forward Darixon Vuelto will be on his way to Houston Dynamo, a spokesperson for Dynamo confirmed that the club has scouted him, although they don’t currently hold his Discovery rights in MLS… Sam Stejskal suggests that NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira wants to bring his former Manchester City Elite Development player Albert Rusnak to the Bronx, but Real Salt Lake have zero interest in trading their star midfielder.

Thank you for reading the MLS Rundown, a daily column focused on news, rumours and transfers. If you would like to connect with the writer, please do so on twitter @CT_MLS