Soccer: Crew fan Brian Klein

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Athletes often note that boisterous fans become extra players in the lineup. If that cliche is true, so is this one: Brian Klein has been leaving everything on the field.

Since attending his first Crew game last May, Klein has plunged into the deepest levels of fandom. He sat at center pitch that day but was instantly attracted to the rowdy fan nucleus in the Nordecke, where he's since become a staple, even participating in road trips to away games with the most fervent devotees.

Klein feeds off "the raw energy and the power - that small space, what it can create for an entire match. There's only 1,500 to 2,000 people, but we sound much bigger."

By late last season, his passion had grown so intense that he dislocated his kneecap celebrating a goal by Emilio Renteria. He was right back in the Nordecke with a knee brace the next game.

Besides designing a new Hooligans site and training with Hooligans administrative guru Blake Compton to take over the club's game-day ticket sales, Klein is working to export the Nordecke atmosphere to Nationwide Arena.

He's one of five founding members of Arch City Army, a soccer-style supporters club backing the Blue Jackets.

"In international hockey leagues it's huge," Klein said, but in the U.S. coordinated chanting, songs and banners at a rink seems revolutionary. "We want it to be along the same lines but have its own kind of flavor."

Arch City Army made their presence felt at five Blue Jackets games last season. The group is working with the Blue Jackets front office to secure tickets to several more for 2011-12 as well as planning road trips and stepping up their presence at R Bar for the rest of the away games.

Those are future concerns, though. Now that spring has sprung and the Jackets are done 'til October, Klein's are all about the Crew.

"The way their seasons run," Klein said, "it's basically non-stop sports from the beginning of the year to the end."

Brian Klein

Age: 32

Hometown: Dayton

Neighborhood: German Village

First Crew game: 2010

Supporters club: Hudson Street Hooligans/Arch City Army

Favorite player: Eddie Gaven

Tune in:

Columbus Crew at Portland Timbers

11 p.m. Saturday, May 21