The Last Season?: Hoping for an encore

Justin McIntosh
Photo by Jonathan Quilter

I have a confession.

I've missed — on purpose, of my own free will — the last two home games. Gasp if you will, but such a streak is uncommon for me.

Of course, I'm not alone.

Despite some decently attended matches these last couple of months, overall attendance at Mapfre Stadium isdown this year, according to figures kept by Soccer Stadium Digest.

Your eyes will tell you the same thing.

In fact, scanning the parking lot has lost its luster lately. My friends are, inevitably, nowhere to be seen. They long ago determined they couldn't give their time, money and energy to this owner. And who can blame them?

Before every game, I used to pause at the end of the parking lot and look up at the stadium, somehow still disbelieving, even after all these years, that my city had its own professional soccer team and stadium and history.

I no longer look up before games.

Instead, I shuffle through the gates, avert my eyes from Lamar Hunt's statue, and whisper my apologies:I'm sorry we couldn't protect your baby better.

Something's changed. I've changed.

When the game begins, the roar from the Nordecke is as loud and full of verve ever. Only the songs now sound to my ears as if sung in a minor key.

The year on the field has largely been OK. Not terribly entertaining — it's hard to be when you're among the league's lowest-scoring teams. But not, like, Greg Andrulis-boring. Thank God.

With two games to go before the playoffs begin, it would seem as if everything is at stake.

It's mathematically possible, though statistically unlikely, for instance, for the Crew to miss the playoffs. And yet, the team could also end up anywhere from a third to a fifth seed.

In other words, to quote a dog meme:Much Excite!

Beyond those playoff implications, meanwhile, Coach Gregg Berhaltercontinues to evade questions about the United States Men's National Team's potential interest in him as its next head coach. And three Crew players are quickly becoming USMNT regulars.

Again, it should be a hellaciously fun time to be a Crew fan.

And yet.

We've been saddled — though thankfully for not much longer —with an absentee landlord and left to suffer through the collateral damage caused by his incompetence. (Seriously, the great silver lining in all this mess is shipping You Know Who off to Texas —where, apparently, exes tend to live.)

We've suffered through months and months of uncertainty, and yet unfortunately, the insufferable waiting for answers continues.

Maybe some resolution will come before the season's out. Maybe not. Maybe the Crew will be saved. But then again, maybe not.

For now, all I'm asking is for one more game, one more massive homestand. One more encore.

Despite all this season's ups and downs, I want to end it just as I started it: in the Nordecke, celebrating.