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Kitman Labs, Columbus Crew Announce Wide-Ranging “Innovation Partnership” To Support Advancement in Player Development, Coaching, Scouting & Recruitment

Innovation Partnership a First for Major League Soccer; Creating the Prototype for a Data-Driven Soccer Club

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MENLO PARK, Calif. and COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 30, 2023 — Kitman Labs, the performance intelligence company setting a new industry standard for how elite sports organizations use data, today announced a landmark multi-year partnership with the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer (MLS). The partnership will be housed at the Crew’s world-class facilities in Lower.com Field and the OhioHealth Performance Center in Columbus.

“We welcome the Crew and their entire Organization, led by Tim Bezbatchenko, into the Kitman Labs performance family,” founder and CEO Stephen Smith said.” As the first club in Major League Soccer history, the Crew are paving the way as the first in MLS to become an ‘Innovation Partnership’ club – a multi-faceted partnership which will impact every level of athlete performance and club operations, from their first team to their scouting and youth programs to their approach to investment and resource allocation. Our collective goal is to create a fully integrated operating system designed to elevate and advance player and team performance in North America, and we are proud to be able to collaborate with a club that has been known as an innovation leader since the founding of MLS.”

“The Crew and Kitman Labs are two organizations with complementary philosophies which is why this groundbreaking partnership makes so much sense,” Crew President & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko said. “We are both deeply committed to fundamentally changing how data is used in sport to optimize performance, reduce injury risk, support operations, and ultimately drive success across every aspect of the organization, from the First Team, through Crew 2 and to the Academy. That common mission has now evolved into the development of an all-encompassing operations platform that will hopefully yield dividends in every aspect of team operations – not just for the Crew, but for North American soccer in the years to come. We are proud to be the first adopters in MLS as we look to try and set a new standard in how performance intelligence is leveraged across the sport.”

Kitman will collaborate with the Crew to leverage its proprietary performance Intelligence Platform and analytics to support three key areas of focus:

  • Player Development – delivering a tailored and data-driven talent development process to maximize player potential
  • Evidence-based Coaching – development of a real-time integrated system to enable objective, outcome-driven coaching and planning
  • Scouting and Recruiting – development of a data rich, configurable recruitment analytics solution to maximize the return on current and prospective players

With roots as “The Team of Firsts in MLS,” the Crew – under Bezbatchenko’s leadership since 2019 – have secured three championships: 2020 MLS Cup, 2021 Campeones Cup, 2022 MLS NEXT Pro Cup.

Leading the day-to-day implementation of the partnership are Crew Vice President of Soccer Administration Jaime McMillan, Crew Director of Analytics Alex Mysiw, Kitman Labs Performance Strategy Lead Darcy Norman and Kitman Labs Project Manager Courtney Steward.

The Kitman Labs Innovation Leadership partnership is designed to provide Columbus with deeper, strategic insight into all areas of on-field performance, ranging from developmental club best practices to helping gamify trade and transfer scenarios as well as making sure that injury prevention and maximal performance scenarios are created effectively and easily for all athletes, while giving performance leaders the ability to maximize every area of performance. The Crew and the Kitman Labs teams will work in lock-step to develop and instill the infrastructure and processes necessary at the ground level, to support the accurate, real-time collection and distillation of relevant data across the business to enable the analysis necessary to drive the desired KPIs.

This new business launch follows other recent business strategy moves Kitman Labs have undertaken. That includes the successful close of a $52M Series C funding round led by Guggenheim Investments, a global asset investment and advisory firm with more than $259 billion* in assets under management and two strategic acquisitions of The Sports Office and Presagia Sports, both made in the last two years. The combined companies represent the industry’s largest network of elite and youth organizations (700+) and created the industry’s largest dataset of talent, performance, and medical data for all stages of the athlete lifecycle.

About the Columbus Crew

Columbus Crew is the first club in Major League Soccer. The Crew is operated by Haslam Sports Group and the Edwards Family. The Club has won two MLS Cup championships in 2008 and 2020, one Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2002, MLS Supporters’ Shield titles in 2004, 2008 and 2009, and the Campeones Cup in 2021. The 2023 campaign is the Crew’s 28th season in MLS as well as the Club’s second full season at Lower.com Field.

Website: ColumbusCrew.com | Twitter: @ColumbusCrew | Instagram: @ColumbusCrew | Hashtag: #Crew96 | Facebook.com/columbuscrew | App: ColumbusCrew.com/app | Stadium: Lower.com Field | Training Facility: OhioHealth Performance Center

About Kitman Labs

Kitman Labs is the Intelligence Platform provider for elite sports teams and military organizations. Founded in 2012 with the vision to fundamentally change how the performance industry uses data to power performance, health, development, and talent strategy, Kitman Labs has consistently set the standard for innovation, data integration, design, and analytics. With over 100 Performance Experts with backgrounds in coaching, medical, sports science, and data science, Kitman Labs provides unparalleled expertise and support. Over 700 elite teams across the NFL, NHL, MLB, NCAA, English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A Bundesliga, Pro14, Premiership Rugby, and Japan’s Top League use the company’s platform. The company has a presence in the United States, Ireland, United Kingdom, Central Europe, Australia and Japan. For more information visit: https://www.kitmanlabs.com/.


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