Relocation is one of the many peculiarities of American sports. To me, a Brazilian living in Columbus for a year, it seemed it was like that terrible disease which you know about, but you believe will never get to you.
Until it does.
I started following Columbus Crew SC in 2014, when I first attended a match at MAPFRE Stadium. Most of you guys reading this article lived and breathed the Black & Gold for much longer, but I have to admit, the last few days have not been easy to me.
To think that the team I got used to support and cover is likely to be gone in approximately one year is weird. How can a club possibly leave behind thousands of fans, a city, a stadium and everything else for greener pastures?
I am not naïve to ignore the fact that, at the end of the day, it is just about good, old business. I have seen some teams relocate in the NBA and in the NFL. I have seen a few basketball and volleyball teams relocate in Brazil. But a soccer team with 20-plus years of history is a different thing to me.
What boggles my mind is how businessmen just do not care about history and tradition. Crew SC is one of the MLS originals and the club built its history through the sweat and blood of several players, staff and fans. What happens with that now?
It is very odd to think that a new team and its fanbase can inherit everything the Brian McBrides, Guilhermo Barros Schelottos and Federico Higuains of the world fought for. Or, even worse, that it can simply vanish through the power of a pen.
Their accomplishments will be written in a book that no one will want to read. Their memories will live in a stadium where no one plays anymore. How do you erase all of this? It just does not make sense to me.
Brazilian soccer does a lot of things wrong, but we have got this right. We respect history. We reverence tradition. I could mention a handful of teams in Brazil which are broken and are not a shadow of their old selves. But they are still there, competing in the lowest divisions. And they are what they are because of their history, so they remain faithful to their cities and their fans.
That happens not only in Brazil, but in several countries around the world. If MLS really wants to be a top international league, it should really think about that before letting more things like this happen for clubs that have built history and fans.