In a day and age where the world is divided on pretty much every single issue, the one thing that is unanimously agreed upon worldwide is this: Columbus Crew SC is going to win the MLS Cup in 2020.
Contrary to prior reports on this very website, the Crew is the heavily favored frontrunners going into the 2020 season (been too busy to fact check, but I’m sure I’m correct). I’m so confident in this Black & Gold team that this article was originally titled 187 reasons the Crew will become the first undefeated team in MLS history and also win all the trophies. However, my editors seem to think 20 words is too long for a title, and claim to have lost interest approximately 42 reasons into the article.
So, as a result of heavy editing, we are left with four reasons the Crew will win the MLS Cup in 2020:
4. Caleb Porter’s popular decisions
The 2019 season was a rough one for supporters of the Crew. While the victory of the Save The Crew movement was still fresh in the hearts of Black & Gold fans, victory was not something we saw a lot of on the pitch. Some blamed injuries, some blamed the United States Men’s National Team, some blamed Manchester City for buying goalkeeper Zack Steffen, but one thing was clear heading into the 2020 season: things had to change.
On March 1, when the Crew takes the pitch for the first time this season, the club will look very very different. The addition of defender Vito Wormgoor along with the return from injury of Milton Valenzuela has the Black & Gold’s defense looking far superior to that of 2019. Porter was crucial in bringing in former Timber Darlington Nagbe. Nagbe is an experienced leader, with experience winning an MLS Cups (in Columbus), and is an instant improvement and veteran presence in the midfield.
And of course, the biggest story of the 2020 offseason was the addition of Columbus’ new No. 10, Lucas Zelarayan. If the attacking midfielder from Argentina can live up to his record-breaking price tag, he will be just the breath of life the flatlined Crew offense needed.
3. Caleb Porter’s Unpopular Decisions
It seemed like just as goodwill towards the Crew offseason was at its highest, it all came plummeting down. While the announcement that Columbus released longtime fan favorite Federico Higuain stung, a combination of age and injuries made the move understandable, if not necessary.
Something many Crew fans were not understanding of, however, was the trade of homegrown hero and longtime captain Wil Trapp for $100,000 in Targeted Allocation Money. “You guys have just betrayed the whole city with this move” one Tweet read, while another announced, “You’ve just lost every bit of progress previously made.”
More criticism fell on Porter with the announcement that Columbus claimed forward Fanendo Adi off waivers. Coming off of a disastrously underwhelming run at FC Cincinnati, and an OVI charge that left many MLS fans ready to see Adi out of the league, the signing was met with disdain from many supporters.
“Porter is just trying to reassemble the 2015 Portland Timbers” fans lamented.
Well, lamenting fans, the 2015 Portland Timbers won the MLS Cup... in Columbus.
The unpopular opinion may just be the right opinion in this case. Trapp never lived up to the potential many had hoped, and seemed to be trending downward instead of up. Trapp also wanted out of the league and had one year left on his contract. That, in addition to a disappointing 2019, explains a disappointing selling price. It was time for Trapp to move on, and Nagbe is a more than suitable replacement in midfield.
As for Adi, I cannot tell you how to feel about his OVI charge. What I can tell you is that getting one of the higher-paid forwards in the league for $200,000 while sticking your rival with the other $1.8 million of his salary is brilliant. Especially given the Crew’s absolute inability to score goals in 2019. The addition of Adi adds depth in the forward position not seen in Columbus since the dual Kamara days.
Some of the decisions that have landed Porter with the most criticism in this offseason have been some of his finest moves.
MAPFRE Crew Stadium Deserves It
The year 2020 will be the last full season played in MAPFRE Stadium, the first soccer-specific stadium in the United States. While the excitement about the new downtown stadium is undeniable, there will always be a sense of nostalgia and loyalty to the stadium Crew fans have called home since 1999.
In over two decades, the Crew has never won an MLS Cup on the sacred grounds of the old Crew Stadium. The 2008 MLS Cup win was in the “neutral ground” days, so California got to see the Black & Gold win as opposed to Columbus, and 2015, well, we don’t talk about 2015.
There is no more poetic way to close out the last full season played in MAPFRE Stadium, and the last possible MLS Cup in the oldest soccer stadium in America, than to end the season with the Columbus Crew hoisting the MLS Cup into the air for the first time in over a decade, and the first time ever in Columbus, Ohio.
1. Columbus Deserves It
“You fight for us, we fight for you” is a line Crew fans will never forget. It was a promise made by Trapp to the city of Columbus as Crew supporters banded together to save the team from the evil clutches of Anthony Precourt and the seemingly imminent relocation to Austin, Texas.
Columbus fought. They fought hard. And they won. Columbus proved that the Crew belongs to us, not any one person, and Columbus Saved The Crew. The fans were rewarded with their efforts by one of the poorest season performances in Black & Gold history. The 2019 season will forever be special for Crew supporters, but it’s certainly not because of the on-field product. Rather because it was the season that was never supposed to happen.
But Columbus lived up to its end of the bargain. The city fought for the Crew. And now 2020 is the season where the Crew fight for us, and the team follows our example, and they win. Because this is one the finest assembled squads in Columbus Crew history, and because we deserve it.
Glory To Columbus.
Reminder: These are the only 4 points my editors allowed me to keep in this article. If you’d like to see reasons 66-108 which focus deeply on the alignment of the stars and the Mayan calendar, follow me on twitter.