COLUMBUS — This weekend’s “Battle of the Best” is set for Saturday night at Crew Stadium. And, fingers crossed, we are all expecting the league’s final two undefeateds, the LA Galaxy and Columbus Crew, to put on a spectacle of beautiful soccer. (Or not. It could very well turn into a defensive chess match.)
Regardless of how it turns out, how many goals are scored, and who wins, it will be another in a long list of great matches that have been played at MLS’ first soccer-specific stadium over the years. Here are our favorites.
1. U.S. vs. Mexico, WCQ, Feb. 28, 2001
The infamous “La Guerra Fria” or “Cold War.” It was 29 degrees at kickoff with the wind chill in the teens. The U.S. rolled to a 2-0 victory behind goals from Josh Wolff and Earnie Stewart before a very pro-American crowd.
2. Columbus Crew vs. Chicago, Eastern Conference Final, Nov. 13, 2008
It was a cold, dark night but the Crew rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit on goals by Chad Marshall and Eddie Gaven to beat its hated rival and advance to its first MLS Cup
3. MLS Cup, Oct. 21, 2001
Dwayne DeRosario’s overtime goal gave San Jose a 2-1 win against Los Angeles for the Quakes’ first title.
4. Columbus Crew vs. Kansas City, U.S. Open Cup semifinal, Sept. 10, 2002
Down 2-0, Edson Buddle scored in the 76th. John Wilmar Perez came off the bench and tied the game in the second minute of stoppage time and won it in the 109th minute.
5. Columbus Crew vs. Los Angeles, U.S. Open Cup final, Oct. 24, 2002
The Crew won their first trophy, 1-0. Freddy Garcia tallied in the 30th; Jon Busch made it stand with the help of a late goalline clear by Robert Warzycha in his final game.
6. U.S. vs. Mexico, WCQ, Feb. 11, 2009
It wasn’t quite “La Guerra Frio Dos” but the conditions were chilly and blustery and the result was the same. As in 2001 and 2005, the Yanks prevailed 2-0.
7. Columbus Crew vs. New England, stadium opener, May 15, 1999
The christening of the stadium was the most significant event in Crew history but the game itself was almost an afterthought. Jeff Cunningham and Stern John scored for a 2-0 win before an overflow crowd of 24,741.
8. Columbus Crew vs. D.C. United, Eastern Conference Final, game 2, Nov. 7, 1999
A favorite of Warzycha. Trailing 2-1 in the series, the Crew came home and pounded D.C. United 5-1 behind Stern John’s hat trick. Alas, D.C. advanced to and won the MLS Cup after beating the Crew 4-0 at RFK Stadium in the third game.
9. Columbus Crew vs. Newcastle United, July 26, 2000
Some will say this was the most intense match played at Crew Stadium even though it was only a friendly with the Premiership side. The match, a kickoff to the MLS All-Star Game three days later, ended 2-2 before 18,212.
10. Columbus Crew vs. DCU; May 19, 2001
In Greg Andrulis’ head coaching debut, Jeff Cunningham scored in the 99th minute to beat D.C. United 2-1 despite the Crew being down two men for the final 32 minutes.