Every spring in Columbus, there comes a festive holiday known as Crewsmas.
It is when Columbus Crew SC takes the field at MAPFRE Stadium for the first time all year, signaling the end of winter.
In Ohio, winter can show up in March or even April, but Crewsmas at least heralds the end of the dreary soccer-less part of the Ohio winter.
Some years, there is a second holiday that precedes Crewsmas. That holiday is called Crewsgiving, and that is when Crew SC opens the season on the road. Families and friends gather together and spend some quality time yelling at the TV and then either celebrating an inevitable MLS Cup championship or bemoaning that they could be the worst team in the history of the universe ever.
First games are like that. One data point leads to over-exuberent extrapolation.
In 2017, we get a special kind of Crewsmas.
When Crew SC opens the season at home, it is basically Crewsmas and Crewsgiving rolled into one. It’s a SuperCrewsmas. When the Black & Gold take the field against the Chicago Fire on March 4, it will mark the first SuperCrewsmas since 2010.
In honor of this long-awaited SuperCrewsmas, let’s look back at the other SuperCrewsmas matches in MAPFRE Stadium history.
APRIL 7, 2001
Columbus 1, Chicago 1
How about that. This year’s SuperCrewsmas opponent was also the first one at MAPFRE Stadium. Chicago took an early 1-0 lead on a goal by John Wolyniec, but Dante Washington equalized in the 69th minute to salvage a draw.
MARCH 23, 2002
Chicago 2, Columbus 0
These two teams did it again the next year, and the result was gross. A Chad McCarty own-goal gave the Fire the lead in the 18th minute. Current Crew SC assistant coach Josh Wolff doubled Chicago’s advantage in the 70th minute. Not that the insurance goal was necessary. The Black & Gold took 12 shots in the match, and not a single one was on target. Zero shots on goal is a good way to ruin SuperCrewsmas.
APRIL 5, 2003
Columbus 1, LA Galaxy 1
This was a majorly-anticipated SuperCrewsmas.
Not even six months earlier, Crew SC bested the Galaxy 1-0 to claim the 2002 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for the first piece of hardware in club history. The Galaxy had just won MLS Cup, so this pitted the two reigning cup champions against each other, and these were the two teams predicted to meet in MLS Cup 2003. Columbus took the lead in the 35th minute on an Edson Buddle goal, but Carlos Ruiz tied it for the Galaxy in the 63rd minute. Despite the hype, neither team would make MLS Cup 2003. In fact, Columbus missed the playoffs entirely. But nobody knew that on SuperCrewsmas. It was seemingly two top teams playing to a draw.
APRIL 3, 2004
MetroStars 3, Columbus 1
Who fills people with the SuperCrewsmas spirit more than Frankie Hejduk?
In 2004, he gave people a reason to celebrate by staking Columbus to a 1-0 lead in the 30th minute. Then Mike Magee scored. Then John Wolyniec scored on an assist from some young kid named Eddie Gaven, who nobody in Columbus knew they were going to love forever yet.
And then Amado Guevara iced the game in the 88th minute. Not a good SuperCrewsmas. Not good at all. But the team rebounded in the remaining 29 games to win the first Supporters’ Shield in club history.
APRIL 2, 2005
Columbus 3, LA Galaxy 0
Yet another SuperCrewsmas “MLS Cup preview” against the Galaxy.
This time, the good guys looked the part and trounced LA, 3-0. Edson Buddle, on an assist from Manny Lagos, put Columbus up in just the 8th minute. Ante Razov, in that ever-so-brief period after all Columbus fans hated his guts but before all Columbus fans resumed hating his guts (a window that lasted, like, a month), assisted on another Buddle goal in the 47th minute and then scored a goal of his own in the 54th minute to put the game out of reach.
What a glorious victory that proved Columbus was going to avenge the previous year’s first-round flameout and finally win MLS Cup in 2005! (They missed the playoffs.)
APRIL 7, 2007
Columbus 0, New York 0
I have no recollection of this game. I looked at my old Notebook from it and apparently it was a fun one.
I wrote: After the game, Crew coach Sigi Schmid said “this was not a 0-0 game.” Everybody but the scoreboard operator agreed. An intense affair from start to finish, the game featured several spectacular saves, a few nail-biting goalmouth scrambles, a questionable non-penalty call, and an 88th minute goalpost that elicited more anguished groans than the entirety of Bob Saget’s television career.
It was Ned Grabavoy that rang the goalpost late for Columbus.
MARCH 29, 2008
Columbus 2, Toronto 0
The gold standard for SuperCrewsmas. It was the birth of the Nordecke, which vocally defeated 2,300 traveling Toronto fans. It was a Moffat Rocket for a 1-0 lead. It was an Alejandro Moreno goal to make it 2-0. It was a William Hesmer clean sheet.
And nobody could have dared to dream it at the time, or even had any reason for such an audacious dream, but that afternoon was the first step on that most Massive journey that culminated in the Supporters’ Shield and an MLS Cup championship.
MARCH 27, 2010
Columbus 2, Toronto 0
The 2008 SuperCrewsmas was so fun, everyone did it again in 2010, down to the same score. Andy Iro scored in the 29th minute off an assist from Guillermo Barros Schelotto, and then the Schelotto added a goal of his own in the 86th minute. Hesmer again got credit for a clean sheet.
Who could have imagined that would be the last SuperCrewsmas for several years? But after Crewsgiving matches at D.C. United, Colorado, Chivas USA, D.C. United again, Houston, and Portland, there is at long last a SuperCrewsmas at MAPFRE Stadium in 2017.
Columbus is riding a four-game SuperCrewsmas unbeaten streak (3-0-1) and shutout streak. Here’s hoping for another SuperMerry SuperCrewsmas for everyone at MAPFRE Stadium.
(Except the Chicago Fire, obviously. Since their name is on the rival list, their SuperCrewsmas present deserves to be a Black & Gold lump of goals allowed.)