Old Futbol Buffet–Dare to be Massive

As part of my MLS stadium tour, I visited Crew Stadium in Columbus to see their game against the Houston Dynamo.  I had been to a Crew game over ten years earlier as the American team had hosted Newcastle United.  To be honest can’t remember any of the players from the game and I’m too lazy at this point to do any research.

My trips to Portland and Seattle last year were very intense, with lots of planning and participation, but my trip to Columbus was much more relaxed.  I took my son and, along with my sister and her family, everyone piled in the van and off we went, arriving just moments before the game as opposed to hours prior for pre-game revelry.  Whereas I sat with the supporters groups in Portland and Seattle, our group—three adults and five kids—sat in the upper stand at midfield away from the Crew Union in the Nordecke.  (Thank God I brought my BIGGBY seat cushion.  I don’t have much padding back there.)  The crowds in the Pacific Northwest were packed, filled with noise and energy, but there was a sparse crowd at this  game, maybe a third full.  There were probably as many as Le Rouge supporters at a DCFC game as there were Crew supporters for the match.

My high vantage point and lack of fan distraction allowed me to watch and analyze the game.  For the hosts, there was very little punch in attack, as they remained behind the ball and stayed compact.  Ricardo Clark, former US National Team player was called into duty as a center back due to international call ups, and the defenders around him had to put in several last ditch tackles as the hosts piled on the pressure led by Higuain, Oduro, Meram and Arrieta.

The visitors were handicapped by injury as two players had to be subbed off before halftime (Brunner due to head injury and Moffat suffered from cramp), but the Dynamo managed to grab a goal against the run of the play in the first half.  The Crew took the game to visitors to start for much of the second half yet could not score.  Combination of a lack of finishing and the final ball kept the hosts from turning the game around.  With about 20 minutes to go, Barson, on his debut, earned a penalty which Higuain dispatched.  Another goal was not in the cards and the intermittent rain towards the end put a further damper on the game. The 1-1 draw provided some entertainment but little of soccer value.  Lots of needless turnovers and late challenges and wayward shots between two mid table MLS teams.

crew pk

We were able to leave the area in a matter of minutes, which was due to the small crowd and waiting for a while after the game deciding whether to get player autographs or not.  We passed on waiting for over an hour for the players to emerge.  At least Larry and Noah got a picture with Cool Cat, and to be fair, the kids has a great time, with the boys putting on scarves and imitating the chants of the Crew Union.

larry crew

cool cat

For the Crew, a couple of thoughts.  Higuain intrigued me.  Clearly has some quality but didn’t always deliver despite all of his gesturing.  As captain I can understand a little of that but it seemed a little over the top.  Oduro has tons of pace but little else.  Meram showed some flashes and it will be interesting to see how he develops.

Wrapping up, Sean Wheelock tried to clarify comments made a while ago on the World Football Phone In, calling out Euro Snobs like me not following the game in America. You can watch European football but don’t forget our domestic game—go to matches, watch games on TV, read about MLS news.  I do the first, don’t do the second (but sounds like little Larry is getting Crew fever), and don’t have time for the third, maybe an occasional pod.  I’ll keep checking in the league from time to time as the league heads for their twentieth anniversary but don’t plan to make it my prime source for footy experiences.

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