Saturday was certainly a special night for the Columbus Crew. It was another big home win for the Crew who are in a tight playoff race in the Eastern Conference. But Saturday was important for another reason, as the Black and Gold honored one of their legends.
Former Crew defender Frankie Hejduk became the second player to become a member of Columbus' Circle of Honnor after a stellar player career that saw him named captain, win three Supporter's Shields, and one MLS Cup title with the club and 85 appearances for the U.S. national team.
"I felt the pressure honestly," Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter said when asked if Hejduk would have accepted anything but a victory on his night.
"It's a fantastic win on a fantastic night. The whole team and myself and the coaching staff are extremely proud of Frankie. He means a ton to this organization and I think it's a fitting way to honor him with the Circle of Honor."
The Black and Gold played an entertaining first half, but were unable to find the back of the net in front of the 21,318 fans. As is always the case, the Frankie celebrations at the half blew the roof off the stadium.
Many former teammates returned to honor the former defender at halftime as well as Hejduk's family and friends. There was a video montage, showing many of Hejduk's accomplishments and allowing other former teammates and coaches who could not be there to share their memories.
Frankie then joined hands with everyone and, in typical Hejduk fashion, ran them all towards the north east corner of Columbus Crew Stadium to party with the Nordecke.
One player who was there to take it in with Hejduk was the Crew's first member of the Circle of Honor, Brain McBride.
"It's something you never think about as a player so when it happens you don't know what the emotions are going to be," McBride said of being inducted into the Circle of Honor.
"You know it's an honor, an honor beyond something that you start playing the game for. When it comes, at least for me, the emotions take over. You flash through all the memories that you had a player there. Your growth as a player, as a person. I'm getting choked up as I sit here talking. It's a very special thing and it's nice that the club does it, it really is."
McBride, who only ever played with Hejduk with the national team, believes there is no one more fitting to join him on the Crew Stadium terrace.
"Listen, I feel very honored to be up there, but Frankie's name definitely needs to be up there," he said. "I'm glad to see it. He's a special guy, as everybody knows and a really great person and great soccer player. You're never going to have a dull time with Frankie."
Hejduk is now the Brand Ambassador for the Crew where he interacts with fans and generates interest in the club. McBride thinks the energy that makes him successful at this position also made him a great teammate.
"You never had a play off if you went up against Frankie," he said.
"Whether it was in a game or training even. You knew there wasn't a time where you could say, ‘alright, I'm going to take a touch and he's not going to be right there.' And it's infectious, just like he's infectious with the crowd. It translates to the teammates. It translates to what he epitomizes as a player, that's intensity."
Hejduk was a player that would never be forgotten by fans of the Black and Gold, but Saturday night showed how much he was loved around the soccer world. Now as a member for the Crew's hall of fame, he will enshrined in the club's history forever.