Upon hearing the news that Thursday's match in Columbus will not be played in front of Crew SC supporters, the club needed a solution to bring the atmosphere of MAPFRE Stadium to life. The solution? Airing crowd noise over the speakers in the stadium, a feature that was tested during the team's training last week, and will carry over into the match [7:30 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio, FOX Sports GO (Stream) / 97.1 The Fan & 971TheFan.com (English), ColumbusCrewSC.com (Spanish)].
"It was nice to hear our supporters even though we didn't have supporters there (during our scrimmage last week)," Head Coach Caleb Porter said. "We would all prefer to have our supporters at the game ... we know they're the soul of our club, but that can't happen right now. Ultimately, we have to play the game, and we'll still be motivated."
Porter's side will play in Columbus for the first time since Crew SC earned a 1-0 season-opening victory over NYCFC in March, facing a new-look Chicago Fire FC (1-3-1, 4 points).
"I'm pretty impressed with them. They're a team that wants to make it a tactical game ... they're flexible and you can definitely see that they want to play football, and play the game in a positive way," Porter said of Chicago.
The Crew looks to continue the strong form shown in the MLS Is Back Tournament that saw Columbus bring back 9 regular season points from 3 group stage games. Back in Columbus with a similar runway to the Orlando tournament in terms of preparation time, the club has approached training sessions similarly, mixing intra-squad scrimmages into the regular cadence of training.
"Training sessions are starting to feel more normal ... we had a couple of scrimmages to fine-tune a few things, but now once the schedule of opponents was announced it allowed us to look into more detail as far as playing against Chicago and what they will present."
Columbus kicks off against Chicago at 7:30 p.m. ET. Tune in on FOX Sports Ohio & FOX Sports GO (stream), or listen on 97.1 The Fan & 971TheFan.com (English) or ColumbusCrewSC.com (Spanish).
Supporters are encouraged to join the club's virtual watch party, where fans can support Crew SC players and be featured on MAPFRE Stadium's videoboard during the match.
All-time, Columbus holds a 13-10-9 record against Chicago, scoring 59 goals to the Fire's 40. Thursday will mark the first meeting between the two sides in 2020.