Mapfre Stadium's greatest hits
With the Columbus Crew’s new Downtown stadium set to open next summer, there’s a good chance Saturday’s first-round playoff game against New York Red Bulls will be the team’s last game at Mapfre Stadium.
Sadly, because COVID-19 is spiraling out of control in Franklin County, fans won’t be allowed to attend the match (the game will streamon the Major League Soccer site beginning at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21), so for most people, attending events at Mapfre, formerly Columbus Crew Stadium, is already a fleeting memory. And the memorable moments have been plentiful throughout the facility’s 22-year run. As the Crew finishes its run at the first soccer-specific stadium in MLS, here’s a rundown of some highlights from Mapfre’s tenure:
May 15, 1999:On Crew Stadium’s opening day, the home team defeats the New England Revolution 2-0 with goals by Jeff Cunningham and Stern John.
July 29, 2000:Crew Stadium hosts the MLS All-Star Game, pitting Eastern Conference stars against their Western Conference peers. The East wins 9-4, with Crew players Dante Washington and Brian McBride piling on goals late.
Feb. 28, 2001:In the first of many World Cup qualifiers between the U.S. men’s national team and Mexico at Crew Stadium, the Americans break a long streak of futility against their North American rivals, in part by facing them in front of a pro-American crowd in frigid weather. In a match known as La Guerra Fría, goals by Josh Wolff and Earnie Stewart secure a “dos a cero” victory for the USMNT — a scoreline that would prove historically significant in the years to come
March 21, 2001: The MLS has abandoned its funky shootout tiebreaker and implemented a sudden-death overtime period. Crew midfielder and future head coach Robert Warzycha, aka the Polish Rifle, scores the first “golden goal” in league history to seal a 2-1 win over San Jose.
May 19, 2001: After losing two players to red cards, Columbus pulls off an unlikely 2-1 overtime win over D.C. United in Greg Andrulis' debut as head coach.
August 20, 2001:At the height of their fame, ‘N Sync brings its PopOdyssey Tour to a sold-out Crew Stadium.
October 21, 2001: At this point in history, MLS Cup is held at a predetermined location, just like the Super Bowl. In 2001, the venue of choice is Crew Stadium, where the San Jose Earthquakes prevail 2-1 over the Los Angeles Galaxy with goals from a young Landon Donovan and the match’s MVP, Dwayne DeRosario.
Dec. 16, 2001:The University of North Carolina beats Indiana University 2-0 in the final of the 2001 NCAA Men's College Cup. Future Crew head coach Caleb Porter is an assistant for Indiana.
Sept. 10, 2002:Columbus is in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup, a century-old tournament any team can enter. Trailing 2-0 through 75 minutes, Columbus stages a wild comeback to beat the Kansas City Wizards 3-2 in overtime thanks to attacking teamwork from Edson Buddle, John Wilmar Pérez and Kyle Martino.
Oct. 24, 2002:In this match, which could not have happened without September’s improbable semifinal comeback, the Crew defeats the L.A. Galaxy 1-0 on a goal by Freddy Garcia to win the U.S. Open Cup, its first championship trophy. (It would later be renamed the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in honor of initial Crew investor-operator Lamar Hunt — a longtime supporter of soccer in the United States, the founder of the Kansas City Chiefs, and the guy who coined the phrase “Super Bowl.”)
Sept. 28, 2003:The women’s World Cup has come to Columbus, and the U.S. women’s national team defeats North Korea, 3-0 in a group stage match.
Sept. 18, 2004: Edson Buddle scores four goals in one match to spearhead a 4-2 over the New York/New Jersey MetroStars.
July 30, 2005:Columbus hosts another MLS All-Star Game. This time a team of MLS elites faces off against Fulham, the English team featuring former Crew stud Brian McBride. Crew player Frankie Hejduk suits up for Team MLS, which prevails 4-1 over Fulham.
Sept. 3, 2005: In the second “dos a cero” game, goals from Steve Ralston and DaMarcus Beasley power the USMNT to another 2-0 win over Mexico in a World Cup qualifier.
May 19, 2007:Crew Stadium hosts the inaugural Rock On The Range festival, a one-day event headlined by ZZ Top, Evanescence and Velvet Revolver.
March 29, 2008: Displaced by the newly constructed stage in the stadium’s north end, Crew supporters come together in the northeast corner to form the Nordecke supporters section for the first time. (Less memorably, the band Saving Jane plays a postgame concert on the stage.)
July 20, 2008:At halftime of an exhibition between the Crew and English club West Ham United, a brawl breaks out in the stands involving at least 100 Columbus supporters and more than 30 West Ham fans. The visitors win 3-1.
July 29, 2008:Another big concert comes to Crew Stadium, this time Dave Matthews Band.
Oct. 4, 2008: David Beckham makes his Crew Stadium debut, but Columbus beats his Galaxy 1-0 thanks to a goal from Alejandro Moreno just before halftime. Crew captain Frankie Hejduk, suspended due to a red card in the previous match, opts to pound beers with fans at pregame tailgate parties and cheer on his teammates from the Nordecke all night.
Nov. 13, 2008:In perhaps the greatest Crew home game of all time, Columbus triumphs over former hometown hero Brian McBride and the Chicago Fire in the Eastern Conference Championship. A patented McBride header gives Chicago a 1-0 lead at halftime, but goals from Chad Marshall and Eddie Gaven secure the Crew’s first trip to MLS Cup.
Feb. 11, 2009:In the third installment of the “dos a cero” series, Michael Bradley scores twice as the USMNT once again vanquishes Mexico in Columbus en route to a World Cup berth. Clint Dempsey intentionally misses a penalty shot late in the second half to preserve the 2-0 scoreline.
May 23, 2009:Crew Stadium hosts the first of many Kenny Chesney concerts over the years, this time with openers Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert and Sugarland.
Aug. 5, 2012:Jason Aldean’s concert during the Ohio State Fair sets a new stadium attendance record of 27,000.
Sept. 10, 2013:Improbably, the USMNT posts a fourth straight “dos a cero” victory over Mexico in a World Cup qualifier at Crew Stadium. This time the scorers are Landon Donovan and Eddie Johnson.
Sept. 14, 2013: Crew Stadium hosts the Breakaway Music Festival, at which Bassnectar and Empire of the Sun headline over Kendrick Lamar and hometown stars Twenty One Pilots. (Within a couple of years the fact that neither Kendrick nor Twenty One Pilots headlined this event will seem insane.)
March 3, 2015:Mapfre Insurance becomes Crew Stadium’s naming-rights partner, and the venue is rechristened Mapfre Stadium.
Nov. 8, 2015: One of the more electric playoff games in Crew history. Columbus enters the second leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals trailing Montreal 2-1 on aggregate. An early goal by Kei Kamara puts the Crew up 1-0 early, but former Columbus player Dilly Duka ties the score for the Impact from an offside position. After Kamara seemingly seals the Crew’s fate by muffing a second-half penalty, Ethan Finlay converts late in the match to force overtime. A towering Kamara header finishes off Montreal in OT, and Columbus advances.
Dec. 6, 2015: Mapfre Stadium hosts its second MLS Cup, this time featuring the home team. Unfortunately for the Crew, Caleb Porter’s Portland Timbers score two early goals and hang on for a 2-1 victory.
Nov. 11, 2016: In another disappointing night for the home team at Mapfre, the USMNT’s “dos a cero” streak ends with a 2-1 Mexico victory.
May 21, 2017:Metallica finally headline Rock On The Range after years of pursuit by promoters AEG and Danny Wimmer. It rules.
Oct. 31, 2017: Two weeks after investor-operator Anthony Precourt announces plans to relocate the team to Austin, the Crew faces New York City FC in a playoff match on Halloween night. Long lines form outside the venue due to decreased staffing in what some fans interpret as a Precourt attempt to sabotage official attendance numbers. Inside, the atmosphere is intense and cathartic as supporters chant curse words at Precourt and Columbus shellacs NYC FC 4-1, highlighted by a dazzling Harrison Afful goal that finds the Ghanaian defender dribbling through basically New York’s entire squad.
March 1, 2018:The USWNT faces Germany in the SheBelieves Cup at Mapfre. Megan Rapinoe scores en route to a 2-1 win.
Oct. 28, 2018: Hours before a Gyasi Zardes hat trick versus Minnesota United helps Columbus clinch a playoff berth in their home finale, former Crew players gather at nearby Ohio History Connection for a soggy, informal scrimmage initially planned as a farewell to the team. Due to recent news of the Crew’s likely salvation, theLegends Game takes on a lighter, more celebratory tone.
March 2, 2019:The Crew plays its first game since being saved, a 1-1 draw with New York Red Bulls.