If you’ve been watching ESPN lately, you’ll know that the MLS season is about to begin. Being that you are from Cleveland, however, you might not know exactly what to do with that information. While Cleveland does not have an MLS franchise, there is one a few short hours down I-71 that we can call our own: Columbus Crew SC. The Crew kick off the 2016 MLS campaign Sunday, March 6, at the Portland Timbers’ Providence Park where they will face the reigning champions.
As you are likely new at this, you might have a few questions to ask so you can get caught up and best enjoy this MLS season. I asked the staff here at WFNY for their questions and I’ve done my best to answer them. (We invite you to ask your own questions as well.)
Is Crew SC Any Good?
YES! Crew SC finished 15-11-8 and had an excellent playoff run which ended in a tough loss in the MLS Cup final to the Portland Timbers.
When is the last time Crew SC won the championship?
The Crew (as they were known at the time) won both the Supporters’ Shield, which is awarded to the team with most points in the regular season and the MLS Cup which is determined by the playoffs. They also won the Supporters’ Shield in 2009 before losing in the playoffs.
Was last year a one-year wonder? Are Crew SC still a contender?
Having retained almost all of their key players from last year, Crew SC are very much a contender. In the preseason power rankings by ESPN FC, the Crew rank second behind the aforementioned Timbers:
Gregg Berhalter’s team will surely enter the new year hungry for redemption after their flat performance in last year’s final. All of the weapons are in place for another chance at glory.
Why the hell do they wear Steelers colors?
I’m not exactly sure. But being that they were founded in 1996, it really could have been worse. Consider what MLS uniforms looked like 20 years ago. As Sports Illustrated wrote, “Rather than attempt to select timeless brands that might connect with a community or suggest an authentic, traditional soccer experience, the league and its outfitters tried to capture kids with nonsensical, 1990s kitsch (with a couple exceptions). It was a bad idea.”
See for yourself:
What happened to those three dudes who used to be in the team logo?
These three dudes were to symbolize that The Crew were a hard working team, but last year the organization rebranded. The Columbus Crew became Columbus Crew SC and the three dudes were out, and replaced by the new crest. And rather than call them The Crew, the new nickname is Crew SC.
So do any Crew SC players play for the US National Team?
Yes! Captain and defender Michael Parkhurst, midfielder Ethan Finley, forward Conor Casey, midfielder Tony Tchani, and midfielder Wil Trapp have all been called up to play with the USMNT. In addition to that, Crew SC has players on the national teams of Ghana, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Denmark, and Iraq, to name a few.
To that point, do the Crew have any foreign stars?
Why yes they do. Attacking midfielder Frederico Higuain, otherwise known as “Pipa,” was a player in the Argentine leagues before signing with Crew SC in 2012. Higuain was second on the team last season with nine assists and second in goals with eight. Leading goal scorer Kei Kamara, who was first drafted by Columbus in 2006, spent some time playing for Middlesbrough in England before returning to Crew SC last year.
What is the in-game experience like?
Soccer is a game best appreciated live. When you can see the whole field it is a great game to watch, and the atmosphere at a soccer match adds to that greatly. Your experience can vary greatly depending on where you sit. If you just want to sit back and watch the game, you can do that. If you want to sing, jump, yell, or drum, you can do that too, in the corner section known as The Nordecke (Some say Nor-deck, some say Nor-Deck-Uh). That is where the hardcore (i.e. younger and more energetic) fans are.
Kris Landis wrote about being in the Nordecke last year for SBNation:
No one spilled beer on me (though this could be because no insane goals were scored near us), and everyone was welcoming. No drunk jerks yelled I didn’t belong there, no one called on me to prove my love for the team, no asinine assertions of “outsider-dom”. People were, as a whole, welcoming.
First and foremost, it is a STANDING SECTION; as in, you will not be sitting down while the game is going on. Or at least you shouldn’t be. Asking the people in front of you to sit down, or stop waving their flags, is definitely not something you should do. The Nordecke is a very welcoming place, but in general it has a low tolerance for people who don’t understand the rules. (If you’re confused by the rules, they are helpfully posted at the top of the concourse before you enter down in to the corner itself)
What soccer traditions do Crew fans have?
There are a few different things about Crew SC that make them unique. MAPFRE Stadium (known as Columbus Crew Stadium when it was built) was the first soccer-specific stadium in the US. The Crew was a founding member of the MLS in 1996. The team and its fans use the term “Massive” to describe itself, partially in self-deprecation, which then turned to pride as the team grew.
My favorite of the Crew traditions, though, is by far the fans’ take on wrestler Daniel Bryan’s “Yes!” chant.
Seriously, what’s the deal with the Steelers colors?
I’ll ask Crew SC management, and get back to you.