The memory of a 2-nil Columbus Crew SC win against the 2018 MLS Cup champion Atlanta United from March 30, 2019, seems like a lifetime ago. Although, given the ‘Waterworld’-level of water from that match (see above), most people who sat through that miserable weather in MAPFRE Stadium probably prefer it stay in the distance memory category of “a lifetime ago.”
Some of these fans are still drying out.
The Crew added a 1-nil victory against the New England Revolution the following week before a 10-game stretch in MLS competition that would see Columbus earn a grand total of four points out of a possible 30 points. This stretch is highlighted by one win, one tie and two particularly embarrassing losses against the worst two teams in MLS.
Unlike in baseball, losing eight games out of 10 is a big deal, particularly since 10 games make up about 1/3 of the MLS regular season.
Perhaps since tonight’s round 2 between Columbus and Atlanta in MAPFRE Stadium is part of the Round of 16 knockout phases of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the Crew will be able to channel a different kind of dynamic energy to recapture its winning ways from a few months ago.
FYI – Tonight’s forecast, interestingly, is a 30-40% chance of rain.
The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is different than the MLS regular season, especially for Columbus. Because of how Lamar Hunt worked to bring professional soccer to Ohio’s capital city, the team should prioritize this tournament above most in MLS.
And given the horrible 10-game stretch against MLS competition, the Crew has looked discombobulated in nearly all areas of the pitch. Injuries are a factor, yes, but these injuries are absolutely not an excuse for the uninspired performances on the field since early April. There is enough talent for Columbus to be winning at home and on the road. At this point, it would just be nice to see the Crew simplify its tactical objectives to (re)gain confidence.
As my old club soccer coach used to say, “let the ball do the work.”
Cohesion is simply (and surprisingly) not the name of the game for Porter’s Crew thus far in 2019, despite the team’s roster familiarity and success during the past couple of seasons.
This “Respect Your Roots” painting is located just blocks from MAPFRE Stadium. Ladies and gentlemen, there’s no greater “roots” for the Columbus Crew than Lamar Hunt. We’ll discover tonight whether Porter’s Crew will respect the team’s roots by ensuring a win — no matter the obstacles — in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup game against Atlanta United.
If there’s any year for Columbus Crew SC to respect its roots and shine like never before, you’d think it’d be the season immediately following the remarkable #SavedTheCrew movement. The new Crew stadium being built for the summer of 2021 will be special, but this season unfolding now is a once in a lifetime moment in sports, especially with the backdrop of the USMNT’s humiliating failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and this massive soccer city specifically.
It’s long past due for the Crew — and its Columbus fans — to embrace a #ForLamarHunt movement for the man who helped put this amazing thing into motion back in the mid-90s, seeing it through with the first soccer-specific stadium in the United States of America built in Columbus, OH back in 1999.
Porter’s Crew needs to unite not only to win against a formidable Atlanta United this evening but also to show (or remind) Columbus that this team is capable of new growth beyond established roots.
Maybe tonight, Columbus Crew SC will begin the necessary process of saving its 2019 season by winning one for Lamar Hunt’s vision of soccer in America.