Save The Crew: The Battle for Columbus is version “1.8” according to writer, director and producer Sean Kelly. It is certainly not a retelling of the first version, but it’s also not entirely a sequel either.
It’s also not, as Kelly put it, “warm and fuzzy” from a Columbus Crew SC fan perspective.
In case you are not familiar with what’s gone on with Columbus’ Major League Soccer side over the last several months, here’s a brief recap: Club owner Antony Precourt announced in October that he would explore options to move Crew SC to Austin, Texas, stating things are not working in the team’s home town. Since then, an organic movement “Save The Crew” emerged, looking to prove this team should not go anywhere.
The first version of the film was put together in five weeks and told the story of Save The Crew’s formation and it galvanizing a community surrounding bad news and an unexpected deep playoff run.
This time, Kelly had time to craft a more complete account of this potential relocation tale, and that means a down-the-middle approach.
Save The Crew: The Battle for Columbus is being shown tonight, Friday, March 9, at the Gateway Film Center. There are two showings, one at 7 p.m. and one at 9:30, with tickets only remaining for the 9:30 screening.
Along with the showing, there will be a red carpet event featuring Crew faces of the past, including Alejandro Moreno and others. In between the showings, there will be a Q&A with the former players and then an after party at Le Méridien.
Kelly’s film begins similarly to the original, but quickly diverges into its on story, explaining in more detail what has happened with the Crew since mid-October. It looks into how the news broke — the now infamous Grant Wahl tweet — and the quick mobilization of Crew fans.
Unlike the original, the documentary digs into the more questionable nature of Precourt Sports Venture’s ownership of the Black & Gold, looking into questions fans themselves have had since the relocation announcement. As Crew fans expect, the owner, and his dubious sidekick Dave Greeley, do not come out smelling like a roses.
But Precourt also isn’t the complete villain in the film.
With the extended time to make the documentary, Kelly not only travelled to southwest Ohio to get FC Cincinnati fans’ opinions — a team that is trying to get into MLS as the league is looking to move Columbus out —on this potential relocation, but also down to Austin itself to get the other side of the story.
This is where Crew fans, and especially those deeply involved in the Save The Crew movement, might turn disgruntled.
The documentary is no longer a feel-good story — that was the first version — because saving the Crew isn’t a feel-good story... at least not yet. This time, Kelly explores the Austin side, what fans there have gone through being the largest city in the United States without a professional sports team and how they responded to PSV’s announcement.
What this documentary does well is tell the story, the whole story, as everyone knows it. There are parts Crew fans will certainly appreciate — “Why the f*** is it taking so long to get in the stadium?!” — but also some truths from the other viewpoint that they won’t like hearing, as he gives a face to those in Austin looking for an MLS team.
All in all, Kelly’s new version of the Save the Crew documentary does a good job of hitting on what has been a strange and hectic last six months from all angles and giving voices, opinions and facts that did not make the original cut.
The message from Kelly’s documentary to those that want to keep the team in Columbus: the fight is not over, but don’t wait for someone else to do something; act now or else, because this move is very real.