Sirk's Notebook: Crewsmas 2014 edition

Sirk chronicles the Crewsmas miracles of Opening Match

New Crew

Photo Credit: 
Brien Vincent

With so much emphasis placed on the “New Era” aspect of the Columbus Crew’s 2014 campaign, a fast start was vital from a perception standpoint. If the New Era began by losing to lowly D.C. United and then laying an egg on Crewsmas, the kneejerk reaction would be to equate the New Era to New Coke. Some quick results, however, would further fuel the New Era excitement and begin building momentum for the club.

Well, after destroying D.C. United 3-0 in the season opener, the Crew held off the Philadelphia Union, 2-1, on Crewmas Day. These results mark the first season-opening two-game winning streak in club history.

Fact: The New Era has begun like no other Crew era.

Merry Crewsmas, everybody!

Now, on to the Notebook…

BERNARDO’S FIRST

Last year, Bernardo Anor revealed himself to be a sneaky good header target. His first goal of the 2014 campaign was the result of being a sneaky good header target on a sneaky good corner kick set piece. Anor stationed himself at the top of the arc. As Federico Higuain moved to strike his corner kick, the Crew sent four players on a bull rush toward the Philadelphia goal, drawing all of the defenders with them. Anor trailed the play and buried a wide-open header through the goalmouth congestion to put the Crew up 1-0.

Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter was quick to credit his coaching staff for coming up with the play. “We found a spot of vulnerability in Philadelphia on their defending of corners. We addressed it and we got the goal off of that. Well done.”

“We practiced that set piece over and over and over,” Anor confirmed. “It went exactly as we practiced it, so credit to the coaches and the team.”

VENEZUELAN VENOM

Anor’s second goal of the night was described as “Venezuelan venom” by radio announcer Neil Sika. In the second minute of first-half stoppage time, Wil Trapp won a ball and made first-time pass to Anor. After two dribbling touches toward goal, Anor unleashed a 35-yard strike with virtually no rotation on the ball. If it hadn’t hit the back of the net or encountered any other obstructions, the ball might have gone all the way to downtown on the same line-drive trajectory. 

From way behind the play, Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark had a good view of Anor’s strike.

“I saw it go,” Clark said, “and sometimes a ball takes off, but sometimes a ball REALLY takes off, and I saw it leave his foot and next thing you know it’s in the net. I was just like, ‘Wow! That was amazing!’ When you hit it that well, it’s almost impossible.” 

Trapp picked up an assist on the goal for winning the ball and getting it to Anor, although Trapp conceded that the goal was all about Anor’s shot.

“It was beautiful,” Trapp said. “He picked his head up, took a strike, and MacMath had no chance, really. I’m sure Bernardo had plenty of confidence after his first goal and just let one fly. It was beautiful, honestly. The fact that I got an assist was even better, you know?”

Anor laughed when reporters asked if his second goal was also something he had been practicing over and over, like the corner kick set piece.

“That’s not something you practice very often,” he said, “but I was fortunate enough to score the goal and all I can say is that I’m happy for that. I think it takes confidence. I think you are seeing that from guys all over the field. Having that confidence is going to get us where we want to be and allow us to try things like that. It will create chances for the team and ourselves.”

When asked if he was surprised by Anor’s two-goal explosion, Berhalter didn’t seem the least bit fazed.

“He can score,” Berhalter stated. “He’s a guy we count on for goals. We weren’t surprised.”

RAUCOUS CROWD

Earlier in the week, Josh Williams said he was hoping for a raucous crowd at the home opener. Did he get it?

“Yes, definitely,” he said. “The first half, I caught myself looking up and thinking, ‘It’s a pretty good turnout here.’ It was loud and I was having to scream at people because I couldn’t hear anything. Guys would be 20 yards away and I would be screaming at Hector or Wil, and guys wouldn’t budge. For the fans to come out and support us in the cold like that, we really appreciate it.”

For Michael Parkhurst, it was his first home game with the Crew. He’s no stranger to Crew Stadium thanks to his years in New England and with the U.S. Men’s National Team, but this was his first time being cheered by fans clad in black and gold.

“It was great to have the crowd support behind us,” he said. “It was tough elements out there today, and it was really cold, so to see the crowd out there and to hear them and to feel their energy was really important for us, especially in the second half when we were struggling a little bit and needed to be lifted. It was nice to be in front of our home crowd and to see that support.”

CLARK’S HOMECOMING

After departing for Europe to begin his professional career, Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark turned Crewsmas into a homecoming of sorts. The Michigan native followed the Crew as his MLS team and even trained with the club during his college years. After plying his trade in Norway for four seasons, Clark finally got to play in front of friends and family as a member of the Crew.

“I love the stadium,” he said. “I love to play in it and to play in front of these fans. I had a great time. For me, it was my first game in the U.S. as a professional because I went abroad so young, so my entire family was here, which was a really great experience. I had about 25 people come down. It was a nightmare getting tickets, but it was a blast. And hearing the national anthem was great.”

Speaking of the anthem…

MR. NUMBERS NERD: TRAPP FAMILY EDITION

On Saturday, Julia Trapp sang the national anthem at Crew Stadium for the second time. Also for the second time, her brother Wil collected an assist in a Crew victory following her performance.

By my calculations, if Julia sang the national anthem at every Crew home game, the Crew would have 51 points and Wil would be on the cusp of breaking Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s single-season Crew assist record just from home games alone.

“She brings me good luck,” Trapp said. “Last year when she sang I got an assist on Pipa’s chip. But I also want to keep it special. Maybe it wouldn’t happen that way if she sang every game.”

Hmm. Sounds like the ‘Chise is one of those “correlation is not causation” types. Josh Williams and I know better.

“She needs to sing every game,” Williams said upon learning of the 100% documented statistical influence Julia’s singing voice has on Crew games. “I think we need to pick her up full time. I mean, as long as we keep winning, right?”

INTERMISSION: RANDOM QUOTES

This Notebook is already going to be way too long, so we’ll take an intermission for a lazy quote dump without my babbling.

Gregg Berhalter, on playing possession out of the back: “Here’s the thing. If you want to play like that, and we do, there’s going to be mistakes and you are going to leave yourself open. The alternative is saying, ‘We’re not going to play at all.’ We don’t want that. We want to play. We want to open up. We want teams to pressure us so we can play out of that pressure. It takes courage. I tell the guys all the time that it takes a lot to ask the central defenders to do that, to ask Wil to do that, to ask the fullbacks to do that in some of the positions they’re getting balls in, but they’re good players and they can handle it.”

Wil Trapp, on Berhalter’s style: “I think compared to last year, we have a more definite and defined idea of how to play. That helps. Gregg has a style and he puts players on the field that he knows can play that style, so we fit perfectly into it and of course we are going to enjoy playing that style. Sometimes it’s not going to be perfect, but it’s only the second game of the season. I think we’ll get better.”

Berhalter on Tony Tchani: “Tony can be a very, very good player. He is a very good player. He’s so physical and he’s so calm on the ball and he can drive forward with the ball. We like the qualities that he can bring to the team. I believe in him. Part of my job is to get him to believe in himself and to want more for himself because he has a lot of potential.”

Josh Williams, on hanging on for the victory: “Not every game is going to be pretty. These wins mean a lot. They mean more than the 3-0 wins because you really have to buckle down and fight and scratch to come away with the three points. To get the win in D.C. and this one, it’s something you can hang your hat on because it means you can win nice and you can win ugly. That’s what a successful team needs to be able to do.”

LOCKER ROOM REVITALIZATION

The fans benefitted from Crew Stadium renovations like the new scoreboard and ribbon boards, the wider concourses, and the new seating in the Premier East sections. The players were the beneficiaries of some renovations too. Namely, the locker rooms at both the Obetz training facility and Crew Stadium have been revitalized. Workers were still going at it on Friday evening to ensure that the renovations were completed for Saturday’s game.

Nobody who played for the Crew at any point from 1999-2013 would recognize the place. There are now real walls instead of painted brick. The hard benches that sat in front of the lockers have been replaced with comfortable leather office chairs. The lighting is much softer. The wall-mounted TV has been replaced with a ceiling projector that uses the large whiteboard as a screen. There’s even a little kitchen area off by the bathrooms and the showers.

So what do the players think?

“I mean, you’re here,” said Trapp. “You’re sitting in it. Look around. How much nicer is it? They’re doing a great job of refurbishing. They’re definitely stepping up the quality and we’re so thankful for it. It just gets you excited to play. And we’re very thankful to the workers who put in tons of hard work to do the remodeling.”

“Let me tell you, I think it is a great change,” Anor said. “Every change brings positive stuff. We are very pleased and very thankful for the work that Anthony, Gregg, Mark, and everybody around them has done for this team. We appreciate it a lot. It’s something where you see people caring about the team, you want to show them back with some good, positive attitude on the field and off the field.”

“I walked in today and they had some yellow track lighting and a projector screen going with the Salt Lake and Galaxy game,” said Josh Williams. “It’s awesome. For Mr. Precourt and Gregg and everybody to fight for us to get this for us, it’s really special. It makes us want to go out and play even harder for those guys.”

“You definitely have to come check out Obetz,” Anor added. “It looks amazing. No words. It’s impressive. It’s completely changed. It makes you want to stay there longer after practice. I think it’s very enjoyable. It brings the team more together, which is positive.”

“Obetz is unreal too,” Williams agreed. “It’s like an hour after practice and half the team is still there. You got guys playing FIFA; you got guys watching the Apple TVs they got set up for us; the training tables there are unbelievable, so now you’ve got guys in there getting massages. It puts you in a good mood when you have something nice like that to call home. We want to treat that place like our home, so it’s good to see. I keep saying it, but I’m just appreciative. I think the whole team is appreciative of all the new changes.”

Dominic Oduro used the word “mind-blowing” to describe the improvements to the player experience at both Crew Stadium and Obetz.

“The transformation is unreal,” he said. “It looks amazing. This shows how the new owner as well as the coach value how we are trying to direct this team. It also tells us, the players, that they believe in us to make this happen so we can have a good work environment to perform.”

Although blown away by the renovations, Oduro did find one area for further improvement.

“If only they will have a locker for me to store my Papa John’s pizza, I think it will be perfect,” he said. 

In all fairness, Anthony Precourt did not own the team and Gregg Berhalter was still over in Europe last year when we previously discussed converting Eddie Gaven’s adjacent locker into Oduro’s personal Papa John’s locker. Out for the year with a torn ACL, Gaven consented to the move in exchange for a few slices of pizza. I even had Sam Fahmi do a quick mock-up prototype of what Dom’s Papa John’s locker would look like (right). 

Again, Anthony and Gregg cannot be faulted for overlooking this potential renovation as they were not here during last year’s discussion. There are two weeks until the Toronto match, so maybe next game, Dom. And if you don’t get your Papa John’s locker by then, there’s always your proven coping method of scoring a goal and eating a celebratory slice right there on the field.

NEW SCOREBOARD UNVEILED IN HILARIOUS FASHION

The Crew are understandably proud of their new high-definition scoreboard, which now stretches the entire width of the existing structure. The extra space allows for full-screen displays, crisper replays, flexible ad-space, and informational graphics such as lineups, game statistics, and substitutions, none of which were possible with the old scoreboard.

When Sr. Vice-President of Sales & Marketing Mike Malo, Sr. Director of Marketing & Promotions Arica Kress, and Video Content Producer Skyler Schmitt met to brainstorm ideas for the scoreboard unveiling, the group hatched a hilariously brilliant plan. Rather than beat people over the head with their shiny new toy from the moment the fans walked in the gate, the Crew created graphics that replicated the old scoreboard setup. The screen showed the old advertisements in their previous locations and limited the video display to the exact same dimensions as the old video board. For the ribbon boards on the facing of the upper decks, they left those mostly black with just a generic clock font. (They couldn’t get that to look exactly like the old “Lite-Brite” display, but it was close enough so as to not draw undue attention to the ribbon boards.)

Several minutes before kickoff, the scoreboard started crackling. Flames appeared. Ads started melting. The scoreboard lost its signal.

“We thought it would be neat to start with the old board and then switch over to the new board,” Kress said. “But then we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if it caught on fire?’ That would, of course, be playing off the fire that started in the sound cabinet last year.”

With proper tribute paid to the Great Scoreboard Fire of 2013, the new scoreboard then erupted into a highlight video that made full use of its state-of-the-art capabilities. For those who missed it or want to re-live it, here’s the video…

In every sense of the word, it was a classic unveiling. The Great Scoreboard Fire of 2013 is one of the most surreal and memorable moments in Crew Stadium’s history, and although nobody could have known it at the time, it was also future owner Anthony Precourt’s first visit to Crew Stadium. By mimicking the old set-up and saving the hilariously self-referential unveiling until shortly before kickoff, when more people would be in the stadium, the Crew definitely maximized the unveiling’s impact.

According to Kress, it was meant to be both humorous and symbolic.

“It was about saying, ‘That was the past. The old board caught on fire. Now we’ve got a new board,’” she said. “Then we played that highlight video to get to get everyone excited before the team walked out of the tunnel.”

Bravo to Malo, Kress, Schmitt, Director of Creative Services Will Bennett, Director of Stadium Operations Dan Lolli and everyone else (internal and external) involved with such a tremendous scoreboard launch. In fact, Kress went out of her way to praise Schmitt and Bennett. A new scoreboard means new technology, new file formats, new programming commands, new…everything. The Crew’s entire matchday video presentation for 2014 started from scratch. In addition to some outside production, it took intensive training and around the clock work from Schmitt and Bennett to ensure that everything went seamlessly on Saturday.

“If it weren’t for Will and Skyler, we couldn’t have done it,” Kress said. “Those guys did such an amazing job under a lot of pressure.”

#TIFOSWEAT

Shortly after the scoreboard’s unveiling, the fine folks at #TIFOSWEAT unfurled their latest creations. Once the Crew roster was announced, the south end of the stadium was completely covered in letter banners that spelled out “NEW CREW.” Meanwhile, the sections on either side of the stage were covered with banners. To the west was a “NEW ERA” banner featuring Precourt and Berhalter. To the east was a “NEW HEROES” banner featuring Crew players. And then, to top it all off, pulleys lifted a huge banner in front of the stage, featuring a large sun and a simple message for the team: “RISE.”

“I saw the one behind the goal,” said Josh Williams. “The one that said, ‘RISE.’ That was awesome to see. That definitely gives us a spark and it was cool to see. You want to go out and give a little more for all the people who helped us out like that. We all really appreciate it.”

Funny enough, when I talked to Kress to get more information on the scoreboard unveiling, she eventually ended up veering the conversation toward #TIFOSWEAT.

“Working with #TIFOSWEAT was a huge part of the pre-match and that was something we didn’t have planned,” she said. “That wouldn’t have happened without them. They came to us and said they wanted to do this tifo, and we were excited about it, but there’s a lot of coordination that goes into that.”

Dan Lolli and Vice President of Ticket Sales Clark Beacom worked with the #TIFOSWEAT group on the logistics of unveiling the display, as well as ensuring that fans impacted by the display would be made aware of the momentary disruption. And then all of this needed to be factored into the pre-match script prepared by Sr. Manager of Marketing & Advertising Megan Kingston, so the Crew wouldn’t trample over #TIFOSWEAT and #TIFOSWEAT wouldn’t trample over the Crew. That way things like the scoreboard unveiling and the #TIFOSWEAT display would each get the full attention they deserved.

Kress said the front office staff was impressed by #TIFOSWEAT’s commitment and coordination.

“They were so organized,” she said. “They had everything planned out and they had everything done so early that they could come in and test it out and measure it out and do run-throughs and check with us to make sure that the sections they were doing made sense for everyone.”

Then the ticket staff sent an email blast to fans sitting in those sections, explaining what a tifo is and how they were being asked to participate, and that they would be covered up for about a minute.

“You never know,” Kress said. “Maybe someone is claustrophobic, so we wanted them to know in advance so they didn’t get stuck under one of the sheets. This isn’t something that normally happens in those sections, so we didn’t want to scare anyone or catch them off guard. We handed out fliers at the top of the section too. The people of #TIFOSWEAT did that. They organized their own volunteers. That wasn’t our staff. They did it all on their own. It was really cool.”

And as soon as Gregg Berhalter’s name was announced to the crowd, the #TIFOSWEAT gang hit their cues with Pipa-esque precision. Hundreds of man-hours of stitching and drawing and painting, plus a four-digit financial outlay for fabric and paint, all culminated in one minute of glorious Crewsmas tifo to usher in the New Era.

“To see those tifos go up, it made me so proud to work for a club that has supporters like we have,” Kress said. “I know other teams have tifos too, like in Portland and Seattle and whatever, but I think there’s something special about our fans and supporters and it makes me proud to be a part of something that they embrace. Justin Bell (one of #TIFOSWEAT’s leaders) was telling me afterwards that underneath the south end banners there were kids and grandparents and everyone in between having fun and laughing under the banners. I think everyone felt like they were a part of something. It was definitely one of the more special nights that I have been a part of at the stadium.”

MR. NUMBERS NERD: A DIFFERENT KIND OF 2-0

Much has been made of the fact that Saturday’s win marked the first time the Crew have ever started a season with two consecutive victories. That’s an astonishing statistic. It also got me thinking of looking at this season’s results in a different way. Coupling the opening night 3-0 at D.C. United with Saturday’s 2-1 win over Philadelphia, the Crew won their first home game and road game in the same season. How many times has that previously happened?

The answer is twice.

In the club’s inaugural game in 1996, the Crew thumped United 4-0 at Ohio Stadium behind a pair of Brian McBride goals. The following week, they lost their second home game, 2-1, to Tampa Bay, but then went to New Jersey and defeated the MetroStars, 2-0, to earn three points in the first road game in club history. Brian Bliss and Billy Thompson tallied for the Crew.

The other instance took place in 1998. The Crew opened the season with a 2-1 victory in Tampa. Brian McBride and Brian Maisonneuve found the net for Columbus. After dropping a 2-1 decision in Dallas, the Crew came home to Ohio Stadium and defeated D.C. United 2-1 in the home opener. Mike Lapper and McBride scored for the good guys. (On a personal note, that was the very first Crew game that I ever covered. That’s how long ago it’s been.)

So by winning their first home game and first road game of the season, the 2014 Crew accomplished the feat for only the third time in club history, and for the first time in 16 years.

CLARK’S SWEATER

As a longtime connoisseur and avid collector of silly locker room banter, I was thrilled to see two new guys at it right from their very first home game.  Goalkeeper Steve Clark stood at his locker wearing a white sweater with southwestern-colored Native American art patterns on it. I said it definitely had an Arizona or New Mexico vibe to it.

“I love it,” Clark said. “It’s unique, huh? I figure I’ll get style points. It’s a risk. I put it on, and I was like, ‘It’s kind of a risk...’ But I love it. Hey Michael, do you like my sweater?”

Michael Parkhurst looked up from his locker and offered two words in reply: “Navajo sunrise.”

Apparently, this was an affirmation of the awesomeness of Clark’s sweater. “Thanks, Michael. That’s why you’re my buddy!”

After a quick web search, I learned that the term “Navajo sunrise” serves as the title to two different novels and a jazz album, but I can’t say for sure exactly where Parkhurst got it from. All I know is that a Google image search of “Navajo sunrise” produces the kind of nature images that came to mind upon seeing Clark’s sweater. With just two words, Parkhurst perfectly captured the essence of that sweater. That’s the stuff of which captains are made. (At least in Notebook world.)

BERNARDO BOOTING BOOTS

As he got up from his locker to leave for the night, Bernardo Anor kicked his game shoes toward the team’s shoe pile, which was only several feet from his locker. It was a gentle, nudging kick, so the shoes went only about half way.

“Come on, Bernardo,” I said. “You can do better than that. We all saw it tonight.”

As he shepherded his shoes the rest of the way with a few more nudges, he smiled and said, “Yes, but I save it for the games.”

ERAS

Saturday’s home game marked the beginning of a New Era, but on Monday we learned that it also marked the conclusion of a different era when Mark McCullers resigned his post as Crew President. He was named interim General Manager in July of 2004 and has held some combination of GM and/or President until this past weekend. He will remain with the organization in a transitional advisory capacity until April 30, but Anthony Precourt is now running the show until a successor is identified and hired.

I will leave full-scale assessments of McCullers’ tenure to others more astute than I, but here a few things that come to mind when I think of Mark’s time with the Crew…

* A long time ago, Mark told me that the biggest challenge he faced upon taking the helm was establishing the value in a Crew ticket. In the early days of MLS, clubs generously papered the house through promotions and giveaways. Most every sports team does that to some extent as a way to use surplus inventory to at least get people in the door, but the Crew, like many MLS teams of that MLS 1.0 era, had become over-reliant on cheapies and freebies. McCullers’ first major business task was to change that mentality. Doing so would restore value to season ticket holders, who would no longer have to wonder, “Why am I paying for tickets when I can get them for free?” It would also make those who attended more invested in the action.

Mark knew attendance would take a hit at first, but the goal was to build a legitimate base and then grow it. In the coming years, while announced attendance stagnated below previously announced levels, the Crew actually saw increases in paid admissions and ticket revenues for several consecutive seasons. The announced numbers didn’t look much different, but the important numbers beneath the attendance numbers grew. (The growth streak was snapped during the 2011 season, before which the Crew cut ties with several beloved Massive Champions. The numbers continued trending upward in the following seasons.)

The Crew have yet to meet their Goal 10K ambitions of 10,000 season tickets, but McCullers’ decision to instill value a decade ago laid the foundation for legitimate progress toward that future goal.

* McCullers, of course, presided over the organization during the magical double-winning 2008 season. From a fan’s perspective, the ultimate goal of any sports organization is to win. Four of the five plaques hanging from the upper deck in the northeast corner of the stadium were earned during McCullers’ tenure as President and/or General Manager. Obviously McCullers wasn’t out on the field winning games, but he oversaw the organization that produced the teams who did. Sigi Schmid understandably and deservedly gets a lot of credit for molding a group of Massive Champions in 2008, but as I write these words, it has dawned on me that each of the three Supporters’ Shields won during McCullers’ tenure came from a different coach—Greg Andrulis in 2004, Schmid in 2008, and Robert Warzycha in 2009. Trophies matter, and McCullers’ organizations produced three Supporters’ Shields and an MLS Cup title. Whatever the actual formula, there’s a lot to be said for that.

* Having spent a considerable amount of time working on the upcoming book, Kirk Urso: Forever Massive, I can tell you that the Urso family greatly appreciates the work that Mark has done to keep Kirk’s memory and legacy alive. Not every meaningful impact is measured with a trophy.

* On a personal note, I can tell you that Sirk’s Notebook as you know it would have ceased after the 2007 season if it weren’t for McCullers giving then-PR guy Dave Stephany a budget and the go-ahead to see if he could make a return to TheCrew.com happen. In one of the most incomprehensibly fortuitous lunches of my life, Dave flipped my “no” to a “yes.” (Dave is such a likeable guy and was so enthusiastic that I couldn’t find the willpower to decline as I fully intended.) When I saw Mark at media day in 2008, I made some comment about being back, and he said, “You’ve always been a part of the Crew family, and we’re glad to make it official again.” At the time it seemed like a pleasant bit of flattery, but over the years, those words have been backed up time and time again by not only Mark, but everyone in the Crew organization, from the front office to the players to the coaches to the team staff. In the six-plus years since Dave and Mark brought me back, I’ve had a blast telling fun stories about our Columbus Crew family. I hope you’ve enjoyed it too. None of it ever would have happened if Mark didn’t give the green light in the early winter of 2008. I will always be grateful for that.

March of 2014 has seen “New Era” writ large in Crewville. To me, the end of the McCullers Era really drove home the point that the Crew have now been around long enough to have many distinct eras:

*There’s the Hunt Era (which can be subdivided into the Lamar Era and the Clark Era) and now the Precourt Era.

* There’s the Ohio Stadium Era and the Crew Stadium Era.

* There’s the Fitz Era, the Andrulis Era, the Schmid Era, the Warzycha Era(s), and now the brand new Berhalter Era. (Timo wasn’t around long enough to have an era, right?)

* The Rootes Era. The Smith Era. The McCullers Era.

* The McBride Era. The Schelotto Era. The Era of Intermittent Dante Washington Eras. The One Minute Era of Sergio Herrera. Perhaps we are now in the midst of the Higuain Era and/or the dawn of the Trapp Era.

* The North End Era. The Nordecke Era.  The burgeoning #TIFOSWEAT Era.

* The Eddie Gaven Goalkeeping Era. The William Hesmer Goalscoring Era.

* The RFK Jinx Era. The RFK LOL Era.

* The Era Frankie Hejduk Calmed Down Enough to Sleep. (3:15am - 3:33am, February 17, 2007)

* Pretty soon we will transition from the Hardhat Era to the New Logo Era.

* Beginning with Duncan Oughton’s arrival in 2001 and ending with the departures of Chad Marshall, Eddie Gaven, Danny O’Rourke, and Andy Gruenebaum following the 2013 season, there was The Era When Massive Champions Roamed the Crew Stadium Field.

All of these various eras, and countless others, overlap and intertwine to form the fabric of the Columbus Crew. Professional sports sees the continual reinvention and evolution of a club over time. New eras become old eras, which then become eras so ancient that a Cleveland team won a championship during that time period. (Impossible with MLS, but applicable to sports in general.) With the departure of the four remaining Massive Champions, plus Brian Bliss and now Mark McCullers, it’s the thoroughly definitive end to the last remnants of a treasured era of Crew soccer. But that era was once a new era, just as this new era will eventually become an old one.

The Columbus Crew are 2-0-0 for the first time in club history. There is a lot of excitement and energy on and off the field. The future seems so bright that the Seattle Sounders might try to make a uniform out of it.

In its era, may this New Era add many vibrant flourishes to the steadily expanding tapestry woven from Columbus and its Crew.

Questions? Comments? After the success of the scoreboard fire callback with the new video board unveiling, think the Crew should recreate the city-wide power outage when Real Salt Lake comes to town in June? Feel free to write at sirk65@yahoo.com or via twitter @stevesirk.