Crew View: Gratitude amid a lost season

Chris DeVille
Sigi Schmid

In terms of the on-field action, the last two Columbus Crew games have been massively disappointing. Injuries, suspensions, transfers and national team call-ups reduced the Black and Gold to a skeleton Crew. Both were home matches against teams outside the playoff picture, yet Columbus lost each without even scoring. Anything can happen, but just over halfway through the season, 2019 feels like a lost cause.

And yet, it’s 2019, and the Columbus Crew still exists. If this point feels stale to you six months after the Crew’s salvation was sealed, it’s felt extremely fresh to me lately. I’ve written before about my deep sentimental attachment to the team and the way its history became enmeshed with my family’s history in the past two-plus decades. That connection I longed to preserve felt alive and well the past two weeks.

At halftime of last Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Orlando City SC, former head coach Sigi Schmid was posthumously inducted into the Crew’s Circle of Honor. Crew alums who played for Schmid in Columbus or at UCLA greeted his surviving family at midfield. A video segment featured players from Schmid’s 2008 championship team reflecting on those glory days.

I watched this with my parents, who’ve been season ticket holders since 1997, and who took my sister and I and our friends to so many Crew games over the years. By the time Schmid’s name was unveiled alongside Brian McBride and Frankie Hejduk along Mapfre Stadium’s upper west facade, my tears were welling up.

All those old Crew teams mean so much to me, the 2008 team especially. Because the franchise persists, that history will continue to be remembered and celebrated. To relive those moments, and to know the timeline will continue to unfold, was overwhelming — even more so knowing that my own family’s history with the Crew had begun a new chapter the week before.

The previous Sunday’s match against Sporting Kansas City kicked off at 5:30 p.m. This allowed my wife and I to bring our two young daughters, whose bedtime usually conflicts with Crew games. We posted up at the top of the Nordecke, snacked on M&Ms and soft pretzels, and soaked up the scene. Columbus lost 1-0, but it didn’t matter. The kids had a blast. They want to come back.

This is what I wanted so badly when the Crew seemed destined to relocate. I wanted this institution that had been so significant for my parents and me to continue so that I could share it with my own kids. That process is underway. It feels amazing. That I’m writing this in the final print issue of Alive, a paper that employed me for seven years and has been a Columbus mainstay far longer, only intensifies my gratitude about the Crew carrying on.

It’s not that I’m indifferent to the Crew’s recent mediocrity. It sucks that they suck. I’m hoping for a late-season rally, or an offseason rebuild, or whatever it takes to get the team on track. Who knows what will play out? For now, though, I’m just happy three generations of my family get to watch it play out together.