The Columbus Crew’s first game at Lower.com Field had everything with the crowd enjoying the ultimate high of being in a world-class soccer stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The match itself had the full emotional experience with the Crew going down 2-0, coming all the way back to make it 2-2 and nearly sealing the deal in stoppage time for the first win at the team’s new home.
It was a celebration for the city of Columbus, MLS, the state of Ohio and for the Crew’s squad. The Black & Gold were able to get a point from the best team in the Eastern Conference in come back fashion and dominated throughout the course of the match. With 16 points now on the table, Columbus is still right in the thick of the mid-season playoff hunt and now can really shift its focus to the soccer.
Here is what we learned from the Lower.com Field opener.
The Crew can grind out comebacks
Through 11 MLS games, the Crew has shown its second-nature ability to grind results until the last minute. Saturday’s two-goal comeback for the Black & Gold was the first from the side since a September 2020 match at the Chicago Fire. In that game, some luck went the Crew’s way with Gyasi Zardes getting an open shot from a deflection off his behind. At Lower.com Field, Columbus received similar luck as Zardes watched one of the strangest own goals go in to get the point.
No matter the circumstances, Columbus can get the points. The team did it against the Philadelphia Union in the opener, in the heat of Florida against CF Montreal, the late win at New York City FC and these last two draws against Austin and the Revolution. A majority of those matches weren’t stellar performances so this comeback against the Revs is a turn-the-corner moment.
Columbus really dominated play throughout with New England capitalizing on its only two good chances. Head coach Caleb Porter was very positive about the performance on Saturday and knows his team can get wins if they play like that every game. The shot conversion will have to improve if the Crew wants to start winning streaks, but even without high shot efficiency, points are still coming.
Lower.com Field will be a significant home-field advantage
If you thought historic Crew Stadium gave Columbus a significant home-field advantage, Lower.com Field will do that to a level never before seen in Columbus professional sports. The Crew is now playing in the Arena District in downtown as the only major professional outdoor sports team with the Columbus Blue Jackets playing indoors and the Columbus Clippers being a minor league affiliate baseball club.
The excitement from the city to go downtown to watch a soccer game on a beautiful afternoon translated to one of the best atmospheres in Columbus sports history. The roof of Lower.com Field caved the sound into the 20,000-plus-seat venue and certainly sent some Apple Watches into decibel warning modes. The Nordecke was right on top of the action and never let the Revolution get to their spirits, even if Tajon Buchanon’s shushing was a valiant effort of knocking down the energy.
In reality, an atmosphere like that might be tough to replicate again because you only open a new stadium one time. The noise levels from the Nordecke and the rest of the crowd can be replicated for each Crew game and the players now feel like a true professional soccer team with a world-class facility and fans cheering them on. Without the Lower.com Field atmosphere, the Black & Gold likely doesn’t play as well or get a draw.
Pomp and ceremony is done for the Crew
It’s all about soccer now and that is a good thing for the Columbus. Since the Black & Gold won MLS Cup last December, the club has had so many different occasions that were bigger than just a regular game day. The last opener at historic Crew Stadium, the CONCAF Champions League match against Monterrey, the last match at Crew Stadium, the opening of the OhioHealth Performance Center and the opening of Lower.com Field have all happened in less than three months.
Porter mentioned the last three weeks alone were full of change as he and players had to adjust routines and figure out the lay of the land for the OhioHealth Performance Center and Lower.com Field. He even had to type the address for the new stadium to arrive on Saturday. All these adjustments, celebrations and ceremonies are over. The Crew plays its home matches at Lower.com Field and trains at the OhioHealth Performance Center.
Now, the team and fans can really shift their focus to the play on the field as the storylines will focus full-fledged attention on the soccer. A Hell is Real match against FC Cincinnati at new TQL Stadium is a good way for the team to start this new phase of the Crew era.