Barson, 21, completed a four-year run with Akron this winter and won a national championship with the Zips in 2010. He will provide depth at center back behind the likes of veteran Chad Marshall.
"Chad is a strong addition to our team and a player that we’ve had our eye on for some time," Crew technical director Brian Bliss said in a team release. "We’re obviously familiar with his abilities from our youth system, and he enjoyed a successful career at the University of Akron. Chad will make a fine pro and we look forward to his contributions."
For Akron, Barson marks the third player signed to a Homegrown deal this offseason. U.S. Under-20 midfielder Wil Trapp also signed with the Crew, while midfielder Scott Caldwell signed with the New England Revolution. The Zips also lost coach Caleb Porter to the Portland Timbers.
Barson is also the third Homegrown Player signed in the last two days in MLS, joining FC Dallas' London Woodberry and Portland's Steven Evans.