If you’ve been a fan of Columbus Crew SC for any length of time chances are you have a story. The hometown club that we love and support has given us the ability to escape in times of sorrow or come together as a community of one to get behind something bigger than us. But that is not the case right now.
During this time of the coronavirus outbreak, I wanted to take a minute and invite you to share your stories from your weeks, months or years of supporting America’s Hardest Working Team. Write your story in the comments below or email them to me and I will publish a set of stories at a later date.
Here are a few of mine:
After work one day in the mid-2000s, I decided to make a stop at Tommy Keegan’s, a soccer pub in the Brewery District that missed the timing of the soccer boom by about a decade and is sadly no longer around. I sit down to watch an Under-20 World Cup match to see Danny Szetela and the boys try to win on the international stage. The bar was pretty empty. I sat a few seats over from a gentleman with a ball cap and Stella Artois and we reacted in unison to the highs and lows of the match. At halftime, I found out that guy was backup Crew goalkeeper Bill Gaudette. When recognized he sheepishly grinned and we continued watching the match.
Looking back, I find it odd as a young 20-something office worker and Bill Gaudette, a professional goalie in America’s top division, both were making it work in Columbus making well under $50,000 a year.
I remember in a previous life interviewing Danny O’ Rourke, Steven Lenhart, Jed Zayner and Robbie Rogers as a part of a podcast called The Short Corner. If only we would have kept that going, we’d be podcast rich! In that same show, Lenhart said they went to the White House for the champion celebration in 2008 and he did not take something with him, as is customary, but rather left something behind... or at least until he flushed it down.
I remember that my brother, while a Walmart cashier as a teenager, checked out former Crew midfielder John Wilmar Perez. I think he still has the signed autograph on blank receipt tape somewhere.
I remember someone giving Guillermo Barros Schelloto a scarf when he arrived for his first match. He had not had a chance to train with the club, so he was not listed on the roster, but was in street clothes. Guille promptly took the gift from a fan and wrapped it around his neck and wore it for the better part of the night. Classy.
Countless times, I remember current LA Galaxy assistant coach Gustavo Barros Schelloto, when approached by fans for autographs or pictures, shaking his head back and forth and pointing at his twin brother, Guillermo, as if to say, “that’s the legend you are looking for.” (In case you need reminding of Guillermo the legend, enjoy this highlight.)
I remember Sigi Schmid coming out the night before a match to Ruby Tuesday on Summit and 19th to have a beer with fans. I also remember Schmid, when asked “Which is better, a guy with two above-average feet or one amazing foot,” by a few soccer dads at SuperKick before a training session, he chuckled and said, “You only need one good foot to score.” (I miss that man so much, here is a good video remembering the Crew legend. Rest in Peace, Sigi.)
Lastly, I remember the U.S. National Team games at MAPFRE Stadium. My favorite (and infamous) moment was at the 2004 U.S.-Jamaica game. It was rainy and at the time, I was very much wrapped up in the club vs. country debate, when it came to my fandom/support. Former Crew player Andy Williams was called up for a penalty for Jamaica and as he scored you will see a set of white hands raised in jubilation… That was me, a young intern with the Crew ticket office and I was happy to see a former Crew player score one more time in Columbus, albeit against my home country’s national team. I just loved that 1999 Black & Gold team, similar to how many of you love the 2008 roster of legends. That ‘99 Crew cemented a sport in our country’s landscape just by stepping onto the pitch next to I-71. Aside from Williams, you had Brian McBride, Stern John, Robert Warzycha, Rob Smith, Mike Clark, Ansil Elcock, Brian Maisonneuve, Thomas Dooley and. my personal favorite, Ubusuku Abukusumo.
I’ve since learned (thankfully) to separate my love of club and country and to have a more patriotic level of support when the Yanks go marching in.
Now it is your chance. Share in the comments/tweet us and some of your favorite Crew memories. We will get back to life as normal in no time. Stay safe.