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Saturday’s Trillium Cup brought Crew and Toronto FC fans from afar to Lower.com Field

How passion drives fans of the Black & Gold (and even TFC) to great lengths to support their clubs.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

On a frigid day in Central Ohio, diehard supporters of the Columbus Crew descended on Lower.com Field from all over — no, really from all over. A quick survey on Twitter had Massive Report followers chiming in on their journey to watch the Crew from in-state communities such as Arcanum, New Lexington, Youngstown, Fairfield, Dayton, Lima and Toledo, as well as those that travel from out of state to take in the 2-1 win against Toronto FC, coming like Buffalo, New York, Indianapolis, Indiana, West Virginia and Washington D.C.

These fans all made the pilgrimage from places far and near to be a shivering witness to the next chapter in the Trillium Cup rivalry. One of those was Twitter follower @thequinngable who spoke to Massive Report prior to the match on why drive in from out of town to be a part of the in-stadium experience: “I always enjoy coming to Crew matches because of the atmosphere the games provide. I mean where else in the world can you find so many people that are so happy for the same reason? Every time I come to the games, I find myself in sheer bliss at the sight of everyone just enjoying life, even if it’s just for those 90 minutes.”

Supporters came to cheer on the Black & Gold, to have good times with friends in the cathedral of their beloved Crew, even to relentlessly boo TFC’s Michael Bradley on his every touch. As some fans know, Bradley once infamously did not hold back with his comments on the potential of the Crew moving during the relocation saga, offering a backhanded compliment to the Columbus faithful, saying he was sorry for a “small group of loyal supporters” that the club was thinking of relocating.

Like all good rivalries, passion is at the forefront for both the fans in the stands and the players on the field.

I set out pre-match to find a few Crew supporters tailgating around the stadium to get the vibe... there were few, mostly huddled in their cars to avoid the cold, so off to a nearby pub I went.

Fans Leah Reynolds and Doug Golding were available as they recollected past stories from the Crew-TFC rivalry. They gave voice to the sentiment of many fans, saying, “We came to boo damn Bradley!... No respect ever since,” as Golding jovially put it, much to the laughter of those around him on the patio.

He continued on with another story: “Four years ago maybe, when Save The Crew was in the thick of it, we were at Fourth Street (Taproom & Kitchen) and four buses pull up and all these hundreds of Toronto fans get off and come into Fourth Street and flood the patio. They were really friendly and had scarves that said, “Save the Crew, but not Today.”

The “good and the bad,” as Reynolds punctualized the conversation regarding the rivalry between the two clubs.

Some had even fewer kind words for the rivals as Crew supporter Aaron from the Nordecke commented that, “my earliest memories date back to the Horseshoe and Toronto FC was not around back then,” he said with a chuckle.

Sharing the other side of the rivalry, Toronto FC supporters Mark and Lisa from Kingston, Ontario drove through “a storm” to come down to Lower.com Field on Saturday.

“Supporting Canadian soccer is a huge thing,” Mark expressed as the reason why he is passionate enough to drive to another country to watch his club play. “It’s great to see that we bring in local (Toronto) talent and see kids excited to have a potential career in Canadian soccer.”

Aside from the cold, nothing could shake the spirit of both Black & Gold and TFC supporters alike as they waited for the match to get underway.

Once the game kicked off, the passion on the field was matched by the passion in the stands. Tackles were hard and often. There were shots a plenty and drama throughout the match. Toronto struck first with a Jesus Jimenez header that beat Crew goalkeeper Eloy Room. Columbus answered shortly after halftime with a Lucas Zelarayan strike to equalize. A low-driven shot so good, Black & Gold head coach Caleb Porter gave his unsolicited praise calling it a “world-class” strike.

Less than 10 minutes later, Derrick Etienne Jr. put the home team ahead for good with the Crew holding on to a 2-1 score until the end.

With the most recent chapter finished, Porter summarized the game well stating, “The Trillium Cup is obviously an important thing to the supporters and it is to us as well. It’s good to kinda put the three points in the bank,” while stressing the importance of getting seven points out of the first three matches.

No matter how long or short the drive home was on Saturday, fans were on the edge of their seats throughout the match. That’s what rivalries do to the supporter, making them step up their passion and it’s always a nice reward when the club matches the intensity on the field.