Saturday didn’t begin well for this Columbus Crew supporter. As I drove down High Street, my frustration started to mount. Maybe it was bad luck or something going on at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, but there was unusually miserable traffic heading south toward the Arena District.
I inched forward, desperate to get to Lower.com Field early enough to see Federico Higuain’s signature ceremony pre-match and then get his autograph. Ahead of me was an impenetrable block of traffic. It was fitting, then, that a few hours later, I settled into my position in the Nordecke only to watch the Crew struggle mightily against a set, immovable Nashville SC.
I did get that autograph, by the way. After waiting in line for an hour, the usher indicated that the little old lady in her wheelchair directly in front of me would be the last person to get Higuain’s signature. Just my luck. As someone further back pleaded their case, the usher was distracted and I managed to quietly continue ahead. Higuain was extremely gracious and thanks to his generosity with his time, I have a new memento to frame.
Unfortunately, sometimes, no matter how long you wait, you just don’t get what you want. That was the case for the fans in the Nordecke on Saturday. The evening started well, as there was a huge eruption of applause for Higuain, the crowd cheering at every goal scored in the throwback video as if seeing them for the first time. As the supporters chanted his name, Higuain waved to the Nordecke, hopefully not for the last time.
After the kickoff, the celebratory mood drifted into mild anxiety during the first half. There were encouraging cheers at early chances, but the first real flare up happened over seven minutes.
In the 27th minute, the crowd roared in indignation as Luis Diaz went down in the penalty box with no foul called. Moments later, the mood turned sour as Nashville broke forward and scored. Then, in the 34th minute, the crowd surged at a back and forth sequence that ended with the ball in the stands after a wayward shot from Lucas Zelarayan. As the half ended the Nordecke booed the referee off the field, venting 45 minutes worth of frustration at perceived ignored fouls.
In a nice palette cleanser, the break featured a video on the jumbotron of Higuain’s former teammates wishing him well in his retirement. Wil Trapp, Michael Parkhurst, Duncan Oughton and Justin Meram particularly elicited friendly cheers and applause from those fans still in their seats.
The second half drained the energy from the crowd, as Nashville sat back and defended the lead. There was some real hope in the 72nd minute as Zelarayan lined up a free kick about 20 yards away from goal, but it came to nothing. The capos willed the crowd to sing and chant as the night drew on, but that’s easier to do when things are going well.
It really did seem up until the last minute that the Crew would find a way through, but again and again, those in the Nordecke groaned as they watched yet another Nashville clearance sail into the air. The Black & Gold threw everything forward at the end but, despite some good looks, a goal was not to be.
Sometimes you wait in the cold and in traffic, but you still don’t get what you want.
Scran or not scran?
Somebody, please, tell me how the commemorative “Pipa Chips” offered at concessions tasted. I thought I would have time but I wasn’t able to grab a bag. My Twitter DMs are open, @heschasmtbh. I have to know how these tasted, it is crucial.
Cold, cloudy, frigid. Unpleasant. Bring on the summer games.
Miguel Berry Headband Watch
Forward Miguel Berry subbed on in the 60th minute, but the headband he wore could not lift the team like it lifted the hair out of his face. Faith in the headband’s felicitous powers is being tested.