Who are the Columbus Crew, other than being one of the MLS originals? The average soccer fan of the Vancouver Whitecaps probably won’t recognize many names outside of Kekuta Manneh and probably don’t care. We sat down with Massive Report’s Patrick Murphy to find out a bit more about the Crew. Similar to the last installment, I take a different approach.
86Forever: How have the major moves the team has made this season (Tchani + MLS money for Manneh and Finley to Minnesota) been received by the supporters?
Murphy: Both trades of Tony Tchani and Ethan Finlay have been understood I think for the most part. It became clear very early in the season that due to offseason moves (the addition of both Artur and Mohammed Abu), Tchani was relegated to a third central midfielder on this roster. He obviously still had plenty to give to this league and there was no reason he couldn't demonstrate that elsewhere.
For Finlay, it was similar although not as apparent early on. Many people think Ethan had a down year last season after making the U.S. national team roster, but he still managed six goals and nine assists (down from 11 and 12 the year prior). Finlay scored Week 1 but struggled to find consistent form and, with other options on the team, including new Designated Player Pedro Santos, it was time for him to move on as well.
Both players, one of which your readers have seen, have gone on to do well and I think fans of the Black & Gold couldn't be happier for them...as long as it doesn't happen against their team.
86Forever: With TFC ripping it up and Atlanta overperforming, does it bother you that the Crew are in the shadows of the headlines?
Murphy: It doesn't bother me, but I do think there's a part of the fanbase that wishes this team were in the headlines more. Even after 2014 and 2015, when the league's own pundits were saying this was the best team in the league to watch, national television isn't something Columbus got very often, much less headlines.
I think the city as a whole, aside from Ohio State football, has embraced the under-appreciated mantra. Despite being the U.S.'s 14-biggest city, many outside of Ohio think of Columbus as a college town (which is not true). The Blue Jackets, despite the unbeaten streak last year, deal with the same thing in the NHL.
Ultimately, if Crew SC were consistently at the top of the East over the last few years, they'd be more relevant nationally. The team has not been there so it kind of makes its own bed.
86Forever: Being one of the original clubs in MLS, how do you view teams coming in and the national media focus on them?
I find it interesting. Everyone loves the newest thing and that's certainly true in MLS. Teams, going all the way back to when Chicago and Miami were added in 1998, are going to do well in terms of attendance and coverage out of the gate. It's whether that product is sustainable.
For the most part, I think MLS has done a good job of picking cities where that's been the case. The Pacific Northwest has embraced soccer wholeheartedly making that experiment work. Toronto, although it was dodgy for a minute, continues to put enough into the team and the stadium to keep fan interested. NYCFC and Atlanta have the money to likely stay interesting in their respective towns.
It will be interesting to see what happens in cities like Minneapolis and Orlando. A solid chunk of Minnesota United's season is played in snow and, if the team is under performing, I could certainly see attendance going in the tank, although a new stadium will help that. Orlando City fans have shown up for the new thing, but what about when that becomes just a thing and the shine wears off? It's not like the team is good.
Basically, the league had to start somewhere and Crew SC takes pride, especially recently, in being one of the original teams. Now these original teams need to figure out a way to build the "new" excitement in their cities that the more recent teams have created.
Well, there you have it folks. I’d like to thank Patrick Murphy for sharing his views on Crew SC.
You can see my response to Patrick’s questions here.