Chants of “Glory to Columbus” filled the stands as the Columbus Crew SC returned home to MAPFRE Stadium for their last home game before the playoffs.
This home game was against Minnesota United on Sunday, Oct. 28, but the game held much more weight than just a normal game. It was Decision Day and the first home game since the news came out that #savethecrew turned into #savedthecrew.
The MLS team founded in 1994 is owned by Anthony Precourt, who announced plans to move the team to Austin, Texas on Oct. 17, 2017. Since this, Crew fans have come out of the woodwork, campaigning with “#savethecrew.” On Oct. 12, 2018, the owner of the Cleveland Browns, Jimmy Haslam, released that he was in the process of buying the Crew, securing the fate of the beloved team to stay in Columbus.
There was a sigh of relief among fans, but also a stronger sense of loyalty to the team through these trials — and it was evident on game day.
It was my first ever Crew game, and I attended with my Columbus-native boyfriend, who has been attending Crew games for years. I secured us seats in the Nordecke, the equivalent of Block O at Ohio State University football games. We were surrounded by season-ticket holders and diehard fans; the atmosphere was perfect. Banners lined the Nordecke and the stands were a sea of black and yellow.
The Crew needed a win because it was Decision Day: the team’s post-season fate was being decided. After a loss to Orlando City on Oct. 21, the Crew needed this win to secure a place in the playoffs.
A few minutes into the game, fans were ushered out of the stands and the teams off of the field for a severe weather delay. The delay lasted about an hour before the teams made it back onto the field. But huddled under overhangs, the sense of team loyalty grew as everyone crowded together to hide from the rain and wind.
Though some fans left and some slight rain continued, the Crew wouldn’t be brought down, scoring a goal less than five minutes into the restart. The goal was scored by Gyasi Zardes, who scored all three goals for the team.
During halftime, the team and fans got the news that no matter the turnout of the game, their seat in the playoffs had been clinched.
Attendees all held their breath as the game was coming to a close, the score two to two. With less than 10 minutes left in the game, Zardes scored the last goal of the night, securing a “hat trick.” The stands went wild with celebration, chanting “Zardes” and hugging those around them.
The game officials added three minutes of overtime to the clock, and the Crew played hard to hold their lead.
When the whistle blew, and the game ended, the stands erupted in praise. Fans everywhere cheered and the Nordecke sang. Giant drums echoed through the stands, yellow smoke bombs colored the sky, and fans hugged and chanted as the Columbus Crew SC enjoyed their victory.
The night ended with cheers of “Yo si le Voy, Le Voy al Columbus,” translating to “I’ll go, I’ll go to Columbus.”