In May of 2010, I attended my first Columbus Crew SC game, back before the rebrand, when they were known as ‘the Crew.’ I watched players like Frankie Hejduk, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Eddie Gaven, Robbie Rogers, Kevin Burns, and more take on the Los Angeles Galaxy.
I sat in the south stands just under the scoreboard with some family members. The sunshine beating down on my face as I wore a scarf around my neck and watched the guys in banana kits play the sport I grew up playing (and still play after 16 years), quickly became a routine.
I became a Columbus Crew fan.
From Fan to Journalist: My Time With Columbus Crew SC
I’m going to take you on a small journey. My time with Columbus Crew SC has been memorable. I’m sick to my stomach writing this, but I feel it has to be done.
One game I remember going to that was a disappointment was the Wild Card match. Can’t remember the year. All I remember was the game on the line, and Kevin Burns skyrockets his attempt over the crossbar, sending the Colorado Rapids through.
I also remember sitting in the infamous Nordecke for the first time. Section 140, Row G, Seat 5. Those were my season tickets for half the season in 2012. That season also saw the Robert Warzhycha era on the decline.
2013 came along and there went Bobby. Chants of “Sack Warzhycha” from the Nordecke echoed after every loss. I, for one, was chanting that as I had wanted to see more positive results. Brian Bliss wasn’t much better if we’re being completely honest. Sure he got us some wins, but it wasn’t enough in my opinion.
Gregg Berhalter Steps In
In 2014, Columbus introduced current head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter to its fanbase. In his first year, Berhalter managed to take his team to the Eastern Conference semifinals. We got annihilated.
I was at the match in November when Columbus hosted the New England Revolution. I missed part of my high school theatre production for this cold, bitter game, just to see Columbus lose 4-2 to start the post-season. Not cool.
2014 was also when I started my journalism life and covered games as part of the media.
MLS Cup 2015
Then came 2015. The Glory Days.
The team rebranded to now Columbus Crew SC.
I was a full-time media member with season credentials. I saw how this team looked, and it was pretty amazing. It was a season worth remembering. I got to witness my first ever MLS Cup Final as my beloved Crew SC hosted the final against the Portland Timbers.
The atmosphere as I’m walking through the parking lot headed up to the press box was electrifying. I had to remain professional though, as my job as a journalist had to be done.
But the fan in me never left.
Diego Valeri scored the fastest goal in MLS Cup Final history. My heart sank to the bottom of my stomach. Then the Timbers doubled the lead off a Tony Thcani mistake by not playing to the whistle. The ball rolled out of bounds and he stopped play. Darlington Nagbe quickly started the attack that led to another goal.
I quickly regained hope for the Black and Gold as former striker Kei Kamara slotted home a loose ball inside the six-yard box to make it 2-1. But that was all the club was able to muster and, in the end, the Timbers hoisted MLS Cup on Crew SC’s home ground.
On the bright side, I got to meet Timber Joey after the match. Nice guy he is.
Where Did They Go?
2016 was an awful season. One I tend to try and forget but can’t fathom the horrendous play on the field.
The highlight of that season was the argument over a penalty kick between Kamara and Federico Higuain. Kamara, sitting on a hat-trick stepped up to take the penalty, but was quickly approached by Higuain who insisted on letting him take the kick. Then captain Michael Parkhurst had to step in to settle the debate.
Kamara would eventually lash out as his teammate to the media and be traded to the Revolution just a few days later.
Columbus would miss the post-season for the first time in the Berhalter era.
Today. Right Now. At This Moment.
My best moment so far in 2017 besides covering the season, had to be my trip to the Hell Is Real Derby to Cincinnati when the Black and Gold took on FC Cincinnati in the US Open Cup.
But this season could be the end. Not for me writing, but for me covering the only soccer team I love.
I was fortunate to cover Crew SC yet again for a full season.
Over the last three years, I’ve made some friends. Those who also sit in the press box with Tim Miller and Carlos Mojica of the Communications Department for the club.
Andrew King of MLS, Patrick Murphy and Ralph Schudel of Massive Report, Andrew Erickson of the Columbus Dispatch, and John Bava of Last Word On Sports just to name a few.
I saw the news last night on my way home from work, that owner Anthony Precourt is more than likely moving the club to Austin, Texas if he can’t get a stadium in the Downtown Central Ohio area.
I stayed up all night, wondering where I would go next. I can’t get into Ohio State football, I occasionally attend Columbus Clippers AAA baseball games, as well as Columbus Blue Jackets games.
No team in Ohio has my time except Columbus Crew SC.
I wanted the journalism life. And I got it last night.
As stated before, I was sick to my stomach when I started this piece. Still am. And starting to get tears in my eyes.
Many fans — sorry, supporters — are heart broken and outraged at the announcement. I am one of them. You can’t simply convince fans that the team is here to stay, then make this big of an announcement on the eve of the 2017 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. One in which this team could host a home match if the cards play well in their favor.
It doesn’t matter if you have been a fan since 1996 or 2013. I bet this news hits hard regardless.
This can’t happen. But it’s becoming more clear that it will.
Being a Columbus native, it hits home and I’m sure no Crew SC fan can stand with Precourt in this.
Neither can I.
Note: Any questions, comments, or concerns, I will happily answer on Twitter (LWOS_TylerF).