Mr. Hesmer goes to Washington

Crew goalkeeper reps club despite fans' criticism

Being in the line of fire is nothing new for
William Hesmer. After all, he is a goalkeeper.

As the Crew’s union representative during the recent
Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, Hesmer was the voice for his
teammates to the public for much of the past three months.

And he was the target for barbs from fans who couldn’t
understand why a bunch of  athletes
playing a game would consider a strike in these tough economic times.

“I was taking a lot of heat there for awhile,” Hesmer said.
“A lot of it is what you come to expect, and some of it is misinformed and

He tried to stick to the union talking points and not take
the slings personally, even though it’s not his nature to bite his tongue.

“It was very unfair because he knew what was going on,”
defender Frankie Hejduk said. “He was speaking his mind as to what was going on
and not against anyone. Some used that against him. He knew what to say and how
to say it. He did an incredible job. He spoke for all of us.”

When talks reached the critical stage last week and the
start of the season hung in the balance, Hesmer and midfielder Brian Carroll
flew to Washington while their teammates continued training in Dallas after the
March 17 match in Mexico vs. Toluca.

“Everybody wanted it done before preseason kicked off,”
Hesmer said. “Unfortunately, that’s the nature of things that it doesn’t get
done until there’s the pressure point.”

Hesmer admitted Tuesday after practice in Columbus that the
process resulting in Saturday’s agreement was draining.

“Especially going down the stretch, there were some
sleepless night for sure,” he said. “You don’t want to be the guy at the table
responsible for bringing the league down but at the same time that was none of
our intentions going in."

“We don’t want to see the league fail. Once they saw we were
collectively trying to work with them things really turned around.”

Hesmer, an academic All-American at Wake Forest, took his
role seriously and studied every proposal, counteroffer and suggestion to break
the deadlock.

“He was filling us in every chance he had,” Hejduk said. “He
was really aware what was going on and detailed it for us. You couldn’t ask for
a more perfect rep, to be honest.”

With the labor issues in the rearview mirror, Hesmer can
look forward to Saturday’s season opener against Toronto FC as the Crew starts
the quest for a record third straight Supporters’ Shield.

“I’m happy,” he said “This is the guys’ passion and what
guys love to do and they’ll be able to keep doing it and there’s going to be no
games missed.”