Twellman: “It is hard not to have goosebumps watching that [pre-event hype] video. Today is a monumental moment not only in MLS but in American sports. We will get to that in a moment.
“I feel extremely honored and blessed to be here today in Columbus, Ohio because you saved the crew. It is an honor for me to host this event. I am Taylor Twellman from ESPN. I have played here many of times – won here many of times here, but that is beside the point. More importantly, at ESPN over the last eight-plus seasons, I have called some big moments here in Columbus. For all of us in the soccer community and the United States of America not only because of Major League Soccer but because of our national team having some great success here.
“Welcome. Welcome to the Ivory Room here in Columbus Ohio. Welcome to those of you at home. I am looking into the camera and I know that many of you are watching this stream. All of you at a home a small part, but all of you – a big part in saving the Crew. All of you should be proud of the moment.
“When I do these things, I hate buzzwords. I hate buzzwords because it is a cheap way of words, but for the last week, I have been thinking of this, and one buzzword for me means so much – collaboration. I did my homework for the last week or so and I have asked many people, I am not sure in American sports we have ever had a collaboration from the city, the state and the national level where that movement – for a lack of a better word – that collaboration saved a franchise for the city. You guys saved the crew (applause).
“I could sit up here and talk – as many of you probably hit mute on your remotes when I am on ESPN – so I am not going to steal the show here because everyone sitting behind me played a huge part of the Columbus Crew staying right here: the Haslam family, the Edwards family, the local leadership, the city officials, the Columbus Partnership, the MLS and Commissioner Don Garber. But who am I kidding? I am looking at the supporters sitting in those chairs, and I am thinking of all of the supporters around the country that played a part. The Columbus Crew fans, you guys had a massive, massive part into this movement and you deserve a round of applause right now for pulling it off (applause).
“Let’s kick off the show for a great day for Columbus, Ohio. MLS Commissioner Don Garber (applause).”
Garber: “Thank you, Taylor. Good afternoon. I always believe that in life and in business, success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage for all of us to continue professional and personally when you are faced with real challenges that really count. Due to the hard work and due to the commitment of so many people here in this room from the fans to the folks here on the day, particularly the Haslam and the Edwards families, the (Columbus) Mayor [Andrew Ginther] and (President and CEO of the Columbus Partnership) Alex Fischer. We are here today to celebrate a remarkable day for Major League Soccer, for soccer in America, for the Columbus Crew, for their passionate fans and clearly for the City of Columbus and the State of Ohio. It really is a dawn of a new era for our league – the relaunch of this club, a club that a little over a year ago had an uncertain future. Today, we are here to announce that we have a new, very committed and very passionate Ohio-based ownership group for the Crew and a partnership with the City of Columbus, with Franklin County, with the State of Ohio to build a new state-of-the-art training facility and a new urban downtown soccer stadium. We also have a new coach and a new team president – both by the way with Ohio roots. This is an historic moment for this club. It is an historic moment for their fans. It is an historic moment for the city. It is also an extraordinary day for our league, for everyone that cares about the game in the United States and everyone who cares about the game in North America. This is truly a day of celebration.
“It is important for all of us to take a step back and consider what has been accomplished over the last year or so here in this city, ignited by the passion of your fans by the Save the Crew movement. Thanks to the work of the city, the county, the partnership, the belief and commitment of the Haslam family, the Edwards family. Something unprecedented in our industry and something very meaningful was accomplished.
“Fifteen months ago, we were at a crossroads. The Crew has always been an important member of our league and Columbus has a very rich history of the game, but we had some challenges. From that very moment and from every day since, we were very clear that we were on a very parallel path to try to do what we needed to do, what professional sports needs in order to have successful teams. We needed a local ownership group. We needed a world-class downtown stadium. We needed passionate and committed corporate support. I think that there were a number of people who underestimated and doubted that we would be able to deliver all three, but they underestimated your fans and they underestimated this city. With the Haslam and Edwards families, the Crew now has an incredibly committed local ownership group with deep commitments to the city and deep commitments to the State of Ohio. My thanks to you, Dee, to your entire family, to Pete Edwards and to your family for being here today and for everything that you have done and will continue to do for this team.
“Dee, we are really proud to have our first female member of our board, our first female governor (applause). We really look forward to having you become a very meaningful part of our league in helping us grow Major League Soccer on and off the field.
“In the next few years, there will be a world-class soccer stadium and sporting facility that will be an invaluable addition to the downtown arena district, an important asset to the entire community. Thank you to Mayor Ginther. Thank you for your leadership. Thanks to the commitment and leadership of Franklin County and Governor-Elect (Mike) DeWine. Thanks to the efforts of the Columbus Partnership, we know that the Crew will have a tremendous support from the corporate community ranking already as one of the top markets in Major League Soccer. Alex (Fischer), without you quarterbacking this entire project, we would not be here today. From the bottom of my heart, Alex, I want to thank you (applause).
“Having now what will be 27 teams in soon to be 21 soccer stadiums, every city needs somebody like Alex Fischer. This city should be proud of him. Several times last summer, Alex and I said to each other, ‘We need to run the table if we are going to get to the finish line on this project.’ We did that, and I just did not want to thank him but to thank the entire city and the leadership for seeing the vision that was put together to try to get to where we are today. A couple of other people that I want to thank. One of them is not here, worked hard with Alex and with the city, (President and Deputy Commissioner, Major League Soccer) Mark Abbott, our lead president that is in Chicago today at our lead meetings, and (Vice President, Commissioners Office) Charles Altchek of my staff who worked tirelessly, particularly with Pete and the club to get to where we are today.
“To Crew players and staff, they have had to live under very difficult circumstances over the last 12-14 months, and yet, you have qualified for the playoffs each of the past two seasons. Your perseverance was unbelievably impressive and will never be forgotten. I say that to the club staff, and I also say that to the technical staff. I want to acknowledge also the Columbus media. You kept the issue front and center from Day 1. I respect the commitment that you had to the city and your recognition of the importance of the Crew to this community. We look forward to continued coverage for this club both on and off the field. To the Crew fans and the whole Save the Crew movement, you inspired all of us to recognize what the Crew means to this city, what it means to the sport of soccer in America and clearly to Major League Soccer. Without it, I do not believe we would have been able to inspire the Haslam and the Edwards families to join our league and to align the interests of the city, the county and the partnership to deliver on an incredibly ambitious stadium project and frankly, to motivate the league to creatively find a solution to a very, very complicated situation. I want to thank you for that.
“Lastly, as all of you know, there has been enormous growth in our league over the past number of years. The bar has been set very high. There is no end as to what an MLS club to mean to a community both on and off the field. The future success of the Crew in many ways is in the hands of everyone in this room from our fans to the city leaders to all of our partners. We need to build on the optimism that exists here today and leading up to today. We need to build on this energy. We need to build on the spirit of everyone who worked so hard on this project from the fans to the city to our new ownership group to the Columbus corporate community in order to have the Crew become one of the great professional soccer teams in this region, if not in the country. I have the confidence that we will be able to deliver that, and I look forward to the opportunity to be working with all of you for many, many years to come. Thank you very much (applause).”
Twellman: “Thank you, Don. Before I introduce two very influential people here in Columbus, it was an off-the-record conversation, but Don’s answer this morning over a cup of coffee needs to be said because it resonated with me. He has been the commissioner of the league of a long time. There are many things that he should be extremely proud of, but the thing is as someone as an ex-player and now someone in the media, he has never been scared of conflict. I asked him this morning over a cup of coffee, ‘Where does this rank?’ Don, you said top-three things you are most proud of. I think to this City of Columbus and to the league, I do think that Don Garber, the Commissioner of Major League Soccer, deserves another round of applause for keeping this team in Columbus (applause).
“It does not happen without a partnership and without two very, very influential people in Columbus. Mayor Andrew Ginther, the podium is yours (applause).”
Mayor Ginther: “What a great day in the city of Columbus. We are thrilled to be here to celebrate on this day what we have always known to be true – that the Crew belongs to the people of Columbus (applause).
“I know this was a day that many people thought would never come, but here we are with the Columbus Crew right here at home in our great city. I am grateful for our incredible partners, the Haslam and Edwards families to Alex Fischer to Columbus City Council to our incredible partners in the general assembly to City Attorney Zach Klein and to Governor-Elect Mike DeWine. This has been a bipartisan, community-wide effort – the public and the private working together. To our county commissioners, Commissioner (Marilyn) Brown, we would not be here today without your vision and leadership, and we are grateful (applause).
“The city’s commitment to the Crew goes well beyond soccer. Though we can’t underestimate what keeping the team here does for our community, the city’s $50 million investment leverage $645 million in private investments to strengthen Columbus neighborhoods. Our investment will go toward land and infrastructure to support the new downtown neighborhood that will become home to hundreds of additional residents and more than 1,000 new jobs. The housing created will include affordable housing and good paying jobs that will support the downtown job center. In addition, the construction of this project will also create hundreds of new jobs, and the new owners because of their vision and commitment to the entire community are committed to record minority participation in this project, assuring that Columbus residents are working to build Columbus neighborhoods.
“Of course, the other big part of keeping the Crew in Columbus is converting MAPFRE Stadium not just into a training facility for the team – which we are very excited about – but into a community sports park that brings multigenerational facilities and programs that benefit the entire community. This facility will become a premier destination for youth sports in Columbus and across the region. I am grateful to everyone for their hard work and diligence, for never, ever giving up and never counting Columbus out.
“I am looking forward to a great 2019 season of soccer in Columbus. To my neighbors that are here today, it is an exciting day for us to share what we all have known for a long time with people around the country and the world – Columbus is a very special place with a very proud past, present and future in soccer. We would not be here today without the incredible leadership and vision, the work, the unwillingness to give up, the resilience and the determination of my great friend and partner, the CEO of the Columbus Partnership Alex Fischer (applause).”
Fischer: “Thank you all. This is indeed a fantastic way to kick off the New Year – the New Crew Year as I like to call it. Lots and lots of thanks. The danger of thanking everybody is that you leave somebody out. There is simply one single person that has been on this journey at my side every single day with an unwavering commitment, and that is Mayor Ginther (applause). We made a deal and a pact early on in a car ride from a challenging meeting, Commissioner, in New York that we were resolved to see this to come to fruition through thick or thin, and that is exactly what we have done.
“The theme, as I was thinking about this, of winning sports teams is about culture and about people. It is culture and people that have brought us to this point in time. I want to talk about six aspects. First, the culture of a great leader. Commissioner Don Garber, Mark Abbott and Charles Altchek have a vision of a league. They are have been building the league over the last 20 years. I believe that this is at a tipping point, that this next decade in Major League Soccer is going to be the most amazing decade in professional sports around the world, and we are going to be a part of it. We are going to be a part of it because they have had a commitment to us. It has not always been an easy commitment and it has not always been a comfortable commitment, but it has always been unwavering with specific expectations. It has always been with a handshake. It has always been looking each other in the eye. I appreciate it – we were kidding each other, I think the Commissioner and I both have a couple of sharp elbows – but we have proven what can happen when you take those sharp elbows and you work them together collaboratively. Commissioner, thank you for your vision. Thank you for your commitment to this city. Thank you for challenging us to be better, and when we became better, allowing this opportunity to show the world what we can do.
“Secondly, it requires a great community. Look, I am the cheerleader for Columbus. The Mayor and I are expected to say the great things about our county commission, about our state legislature, about state government and about our community. I will not go through the fact that this is the greatest city in America and that we are the fastest growing city – greater than a million people. Look at the skyline that is burgeoning. A city that millennials are choosing to move to. A city that is on the move, second only to Chicago now in the Midwest. Major League Soccer is an important part of that. We do not take it for granted. Harvard calls it the ‘Columbus Way.’ They teach mayors around the world. I recently did a telephone conference with the Mayor of Johannesburg who wanted to understand how we do public-private partnerships here in Columbus. It takes a great community. We have that, and we are grateful. It takes great owners. I put them after community only because if we have learned anything, we have learned that we need ownership that is of the community, for the community and believes that Major League Soccer and professional support are a part of the community. That is exactly what we have.
“Somebody once asked me at what moment in time did I actually believe that I was willing to bet that this would happen. There were a bunch of times that I was saying that I was maybe ahead of my skis, but I remember a very specific meeting in which Pete Edwards and I joined Whitney Johnson, JW Johnson, Dee and Jimmy Haslam and (Browns COO) Dave Jenkins at [the Haslams’] dining room table. Two families had a family conversation around coffee and around breakfast. That morning I thought, ‘This is the culture and the type of people that can make this dream a reality,’ and indeed it does.
“Fourth, it takes great management and leadership. What I have learned to know of (Crew SC President) Tim (Bezbatchenko) and (Crew SC Head Coach) Caleb (Porter), they are both in some ways coming home to Ohio and to Columbus. I am excited that they are going to fit the culture of this ownership, of this community and of this league. It takes great players. Holy cow, over the last 16 months, has there been any better resolve and focus than our team that has not been divided and who has stayed focused on the business of the team than our Columbus Crew Soccer Club? (Applause).
“Finally, we wrap it with the fans. The Save the Crew movement, as it has been noted, has done something that has never been done in the world of professional sports. I remember the rally on City Hall on the City Hall steps shortly after the announcement was made that this team may leave. Never once did the Save the Crew movement ever lose faith. In fact, it is probably the greatest show of fan support and accomplishment in the history of professional sports. I do not believe that is hyperbole. I may be known for a little bit of hyperbole along the way, but what the Save the Crew movement has done, what our fan base has done, take this great league in a great city with great owners, with new great management and leadership, with a fantastic team, first and foremost and surround it by a great fan base, and there is nothing that stops us from what I think all of our dreams here in the short distance would be back together presenting a cup to the community of this great city in helping to grow us into all that we can be. With a warm heart, great gratitude, much appreciation to way too many individuals that we can’t name today – I will name one final one and that is Steve Lyons, my partner at the partnership who has again been behind the scenes working so many different aspects of this – we are so appreciative that we are at this moment in time. There is a whole lot of work to do so let’s get started (applause).”
Twellman: “Thank you, Mayor Ginther and Alex Fischer. Before I introduce the next person, just looking out that window, it is going to be amazing to see that new stadium downtown here in Columbus. That new stadium would not be possible without the Haslam family. A new investor, a new owner, Dee Haslam (applause).”
Haslam: “Thank you. This is pretty fantastic. I could not be more exited to stand before you today. I have to thank the Save the Crew movement, too, and all of the supporters. You have just done a tremendous job. We are so excited to be a part of your family so thank you so much for everything (applause).
“Everybody talks about the ‘Columbus Way,’ but you do not really understand it until you actually experience it. This is a group of people that can get things done. I do not know any other community that is able to pull off what they have done here. We are so grateful – so grateful to the Mayor, so grateful to the city council, the county commission and the state officials and to Alex Fischer and the Columbus Partnership. It could not happen without collaboration. It could not happen without leadership. We are so grateful that we are able to stand here before you but very grateful to be able to thank you publicly for just a tremendous job. We understand what a great community Columbus is. We do understand what a great sports franchise the Columbus Crew is. We are honored to be able to be a part of the ownership group and so very honored to be a part of Major League Soccer. Thank you so much, Commissioner. We could not be more excited to get started and get going in something we believe is going to be a terrific future.
“We do have to get to work, and there are three things that we are focusing on right now. That is to make sure we have great leaders, experienced leaders at the top. We feel very, very, very good about where we are there. The second thing we need to do is focus on the fans. Our fans are so important to us, and we need to make sure we are doing everything we can to take care of you. We will continue to do that. We will work very hard there. The third thing we always talk about is how we can give back to this community and how we can get engaged and deeply be involved. We will start immediately doing that. You will see us out and about, and you may get a little tired of seeing us, but we are really excited about that.
“I also want to thank the staff of the Columbus Crew. You have hung in there. You have worked hard. That is what it is going to take. We are so excited to begin working with you, too. Thank you. I do want to publically thank you (applause).
“I want to take a second to talk about Confluence Village and the stadium site, which is right over here (points to stage left). This is going to be an amazing neighborhood and very much about this community. I think it will finish off the city in such a way that we are all going to be very proud. A gathering place – it is not just a stadium, it is truly a gathering place for many activities and very much a part of a community where people will live, work and play. We are excited to start the development and the conversations on that. Obviously, we have some work to do there.
“The other thing as the mayor talked about is the sporting complex. One of the main things that we can do is really build youth soccer in this community. It is something that we totally believe that engaged youth in soccer are better students and that they are healthier. We are going to do everything we can to engage the youth and build a tremendous soccer program for girls and boys and men and women in this community that we are very excited about (applause).
“This all started with our meeting around our dining room table with Pete Edwards. That meeting, when you are going to partner with somebody you are going to spend a lot of time with, I think we both had a little concern, but it did not take us long to realize that the Edwards family and the Haslam family are a lot alike. We went to the Ohio State-Michigan game and were guests of the Edwards family. They care so much. They have the same values. Family comes first; the love of sports; they are in a family business. It mirrors our family perfectly. Having a family that you are partnering with in something that is so big and something so big to community. You want to make sure that it is a good fit. We could not be more delighted to be partners with the Edwards family. I am so grateful to Pete Edwards for all of his efforts and for believing in the Crew. It is my honor to introduce, Dr. Pete Edwards (applause).”
Edwards: “Thanks, Dee. Thank you for joining our community. You are officially part of our community now. You are wearing the scarf. We, too, could not be more proud and happy to be associated with your family.
“My family has been in Columbus their entire lives. Our friends, our family and our values are all rooted in this community. Nothing can make us more proud than being able to help the community keep an asset that everyone values. It really is about values and about the community. Today, we think this about soccer and we think this is about a team, but it really is not – it is about our community. It is about having pride in our city and it is about having pride in our team. All of those things roll into the fabric of our community. We are a millennial, young, dynamic, growing city. Soccer is that sport. For us to not have this team here would have left a hole in our city. My family said that that was not acceptable and that we are going to do whatever we could to figure out a way to keep this team (applause).
“The fabric of the community involves families, and my family has been blessed to grow up with this team. I have been involved with the team since the first day. My children have been around the players and around the game for 25 years. That leads to the tradition of the families enjoying their time with the team. The Bezbatchenkos were season ticket holders in the first year, and Tim grew up going to Crew games. That family connection is really, really important, and the traditions that have been born through 25 years of soccer are going to continue. We are going to support the family atmosphere of the team. We are excited to be able to do that.
“The other family that I am going to mention again is the Haslams because we would not be here today without their support and their experience. The value that they bring to the partnership in professional sports management is unparalleled. Without them, this project really would not have happened. I too want to thank the Commissioner, the Mayor, Alex, Steve and (Columbus City Auditor) Megan Kilgore, the auditor and Zach (Klein) for the work that they have done. This has been a community-wide effort that makes us all so proud to be from Columbus.
“The future is bright here. We understand that there is a lot of work to do, but we feel like we have two extremely talented people that are going to lead our organization, create the values in the team that we want to do. The first is Tim Bezbatchenko. We are beyond thrilled that he has agreed to join our team. Tim is Ohio born and bred. A (Columbus St. Francis) DeSales (High School) grad and went off to do some training in Cincinnati for his law degree, then ended up at MLS offices where he was a star. After several years with MLS, he was hired to largely turn around the team in Toronto. Not only did he turn it around, but he succeeded wildly – the 2016 finalist, the 2017 MLS Cup Champion, with potentially the best team compiled ever in the MLS. That was largely Tim’s work. We were lucky to be able to present Columbus as home. I do not think he would have left Toronto for any situation other than coming home to build a team, a new stadium and a new training facility. We are so pleased and so excited to have him on board. I would like you all to welcome Tim Bezbatchenko (applause).”
Bezbatchenko: “Good afternoon, everyone. What a fantastic day for the city, the State of Ohio – not just for the soccer and sport lovers but for all Ohioans who appreciate the way that the people in this room came together to do something truly special to keep this club, to save this club – the first club in the MLS – in Columbus. I could not be more excited and honored to be here today, a day that I always thought was possible but was not sure would happen as I observed and watched from the outside from Toronto. I am here because of the vision of the ownership, fans and the city to fight for a club that means so much to the soccer community and Central Ohio, and as we saw, a soccer nation.
“Let me start off with thanking ownership and the Haslam and Edwards families. It was clear from our first meeting that they planned to do it right in Columbus and for Columbus and are committed to making this club a winner both on the field and in the community. I want to thank the city, county and state for their valiant efforts and commitments to keep the team here. Mayor Ginther and Alex Fischer from the Columbus Partnership group have played an integral part in making this day happen. The city, county and state stepped up when it mattered most, and I look forward to working with them to build a world-class stadium and training facility.
“I want to thank the league leadership and the Commissioner, and President (and Deputy Commissioner) Mark Abbott for their commitments to keep the team in Columbus. We plan to make the league proud and work to be a benchmark club in every respect. I am really excited to work with Caleb Porter. His background speaks for itself, and he has been a winner both as a player and as a coach at every level. He knows Ohio, he knows the Crew and he knows how to win in this league, which is really, really important. He is both motivator and tactician, and he is a guy that believes in certain values and holds some fundamental beliefs about the game, yet he is flexible and pragmatic when needed and when the game demands it. I want to thank the supporters. To the supporters out there watching and to those in the room, thank you for your unwavering support and for really getting this thing started and just being persistent and relentless in this entire process. My family has been incredibly supportive, both my extended family from Central and across Ohio and my wife and kids. We are excited to become immersed in this community and get to know all of you again.
“It is a tremendous honor and responsibility working for a club like the Columbus Crew with its rich history and tradition. Personally it is an incredible opportunity to come back to my home city and a club I loved and followed for 23 years and to work with this ownership group, to shepherd this club into a new era. What will the team look like? What will the club identity be? It is still fresh, and I do not know exactly for today, but I will tell you this: the first thing is we are going to do is contend and win because that is what we are here to do and that is why we are here. Next, we are going to collaborate obviously through the Columbus Way but also internally with the staff that has been dedicated the loyal staff that has stayed throughout this whole time. We will serve the fans, the community and the ownership group, and we will connect, specifically with our training center but also with our academy. I am truly humbled, and we will work incredibly hard to serve this ownership group, the dedicated staff and the players, the fans and the city so that their efforts will be rewarded with trophies. Thank you, and go Crew."
Edwards: “Thanks, Tim. You now know why we thought he was the guy we wanted. He is an amazing guy, and we are going to put together a great team. Part of that team is Caleb Porter, and Caleb already kind of is a rock star of the MLS coaches. He has done it. He has been unfortunately in Columbus to win an MLS Cup (laughter) and we won’t hold that against him, but we need him to get another one so at least we even the score. Caleb has a history that is truly impressive in soccer. He took a small Akron program and turned it into a national powerhouse. They lost in the finals one year, won the finals one year and in 2011, five of the top eight MLS draft picks came from his college team. He can recognize talent, he can develop talent and he is an excellent strategic coach. He carried that skill and vision to Portland, where in three of five years, he made the playoffs, one in MLS Cup in Columbus and consistently made the playoffs.
“Other than that, he develops a brand of soccer that everyone is proud of and everyone is excited about. We are going to be on our front foot. We are going to look forward. We are going to step up and create the dynamic gains that we all want to see. We could not be more excited to offer Caleb the opportunity to run our club, and we are thrilled to have him here.”
Porter: “Thank you, Dr. Edwards. I am truly honored and privileged to stand up here as the next head coach of the Columbus Crew. There has been a word thrown around a lot – family. Family is very important to me. That was a major factor in the decision. Coming back to Ohio and bringing my family specifically to Columbus felt like home. We are truly proud to live in this community. I would like to thank the ownership group for the opportunity – the Haslam family, Jimmy, Dee and JW, and the Edwards family, Pete – for the opportunity to come into this community and to usher this club into the next era.
“Growing up in the Midwest and going to Indiana University, the Columbus Crew was the club that I followed. It was the club that I supported. It was the club that I watched. I can remember going to games. I can remember going to (United States) National Team games at the stadium. I can remember vividly studying the club. During my time at Akron, I came down on many occasions and spent time with some of my past predecessors. From that standpoint, being the head coach here is a realization of a dream. Obviously, that is just the beginning. The real dream is to now come here and be successful and to win trophies (applause).”
“Having the year off to evaluate my options for the next club was something I did not take lightly. When you look at my track record of clubs, I do not like to go to a club and leave shortly. I like to stay. I was at Akron for seven years and at Portland five years, and it was a massive decision. I was looking for three things in that next club. The first thing was I want to be around good people. What I mean by that is talented and passionate people, as simple as that sounds. The second thing was I wanted to go to a club that had a long-term vision. I believe in a clear way of working, I believe in a process and I have a philosophy that I bring to every club. Clearly, that was valued in this club. The third thing is I want to be in a club in where there would be resources to create infrastructure and win, and I could not have found a better fit to get those three things than the Columbus Crew.
“I want to focus on specifically the people part because as I entered that final stage of making a decision that is ultimately what led me here. When I met with the Haslams and Edwards families and they shared with me their vision, it really resonated. When I saw all of you in this community in the Nordecke, the supporters and everyone rally behind this club, that is the type of club I want to manage. A club that is relevant. A club that the people are proud of. A club where they are going to fight, roll up their sleeves and save it. I felt compelled to come back and to jump on board with that movement to save the Crew – not just save it but elevate it and continue to raise the bar. A big reason again that I am here are because of all of you.
“As far as my vision, it is really simple. I have three things I want to bring. The first one, as simple as it sounds, is energy. I want to re-energize this club. That means the community, that means the supporters off the pitch, and obviously, on the pitch. We want to play in a very entertaining and attractive style of play. I recognize that I am building off of a very strong foundation. (Former Crew SC Head Coach) Gregg Berhalter did a tremendous job during his five years, and I want to honor that and I want to build on that (applause). That energy starts with me. There is no one that is going to work harder. There is no one that is going to have more passion. There is no one that is going to care more. You will see it on the sidelines if you haven’t already. That is infectious, and it starts with me. Any team that I have managed, they understand that it is bigger than the wins and losses. They are part of a community, and the way we represent ourselves is very important. They understand that they have to be out in the community. They have to do their part to connect, and that will be something that the players do and that I do because we are very proud to be a part of this community. That energy is going to be there. The second thing is innovation. On the technical side, we have to always be innovating. It is either adapt or die. In our league, that is always the case. What worked last year in MLS does not just work the next year. In our game, what worked five years ago is irrelevant in a lot of ways. You will have a coach that will always be innovating while honoring of course the past successes. It is my job to continue to stay relevant with the game and the trends and to find ways to continue to be better. Whether it is analytics or sports science or tactics, we will always be an innovative club from top to bottom in a very comprehensive way. The third thing that I want to bring is I want to elevate the club. I am very proud of what the club has done. It has been a successful club, but we can be even better. I am not coming here to keep a status quo. I am coming here to continue to raise the bar and build off that strong foundation, and that means results as well. It is a very stable club, but can we get even more results.
“That brings me to the last thing. I am coming here to try and bring another trophy plain and simple (applause). That is always a tricky thing to say. Some coaches don’t talk about those things. Every single place that I have gone, it is the first thing I talk about. You have to create that vision. You have to raise the bar to that level, and to win a trophy, you have to talk about it, you have to think about it and you have to say it. Then you go about the steps along that process to actually accomplish that. It has been 10 years since this club has won a MLS Cup trophy. If I came here for any other reason other than win a MLS Cup trophy, you would have the wrong guy. I have a vision in my mind – similar to Portland – of a parade in the streets of Columbus. That is very inspiring and motivating to me to have that happen. I thank you, all of you for what you have done to this day. I look forward to getting to know all of you more and more, whether it is in the Nordecke, the supporters or all of you in the community. I can’t wait for this next season to start. Thank you very much. (applause).
Twellman: “I am not sure about you, but I could run through a wall after Caleb speaks. Also Tim and Caleb, I look forward over the next three or four months you telling me via text how big of an idiot I am when I analyze Columbus on ESPN (laughter). I started the show today with this, I am an outsider. I did not grow up here. I been here many of times for work and for family businesses, but today is a day that for the next 20, 30, 40 and 50 years people are going to be talking about your city. That is an amazing thing that this community did on three levels. The city did it, the state did it and you even moved it to a point where nationally you guys had an impact. In American sports, you guys did it. While we can all rehash the past and whatnot, I am always someone about the moment and the future. You guys should celebrate the absolute heck out of doing this and pulling this off because the Columbus Crew are staying in Columbus and you guys pulled it off. Another round of applause for you guys.
“The last thing is Dee Haslam and I were having a cup of coffee downstairs in the green room, and I said ‘What are you most excited about?’ She looked at me and said, ‘In 2019 all of America and all of MLS Soccer is going to realize that #HellisReal in the state of Ohio.’
“Congratulations Columbus, Ohio. You saved the Crew (applause).”
# # #