It's All About...Columbus Crew
We have been to Europe, we have ventured to Asia and Africa and ended up via Oceania and South America at the home of ''soccer'', the United States of America.
And when better to wax lyric about the MLS than the day that the country inaugurated its first black president ever, a momentous day in the history of a changing nation.
This change has manifested itself not only on the social and political scene, but also on the sporting front.
Yes, the NFL, NBA and MLB still dominate the covers of the sports pages and bulletins but football is, all of a sudden, a big deal—something not to be laughed at.
We were told that much of the thinking behind David Beckham's ''super-transfer'' to play for the L.A. Galaxy was to help promote the MLS and raise its profile throughout the world. Yet, even before Posh and Becks arrived in L.A. amidst all the glitz and glam, (Association) football had already made great strides in the credibility stakes.
Indeed, when the Women's World Cup had to be moved to the US from China following a deadly outbreak of SARS, many American cynics were hooked by the unexpected success of their country's sportswomen as the hosts powered to an impressive third place. Following on from the '99 Women's World Cup—also a commercial and sporting success—crowds continued to burgeon, with as many as 35,000 showing up for group matches.
This brings me on nicely to my featured side for today's episode in this series, Columbus Crew, whose stadium hosted several games during the aforementioned tournament:
1. Columbus Crew's team was lucky enough to play regularly in America's first purpose built soccer stadium, the imaginatively named Columbus Crew Stadium, in 1999.
2. Columbus Crew, formed in 1994, has three principal supporter groups, namely The Crew Supporters Union, The Husdon Street Hooligans and La Turbina Amarilla, reflecting the club supporters' varied demographic.
3. In the lead up to last season, the Columbus Crew executives looked at possible new sources if revenue and decided to build a stage in the stadium that would be suitable for hosting concerts and other events away from the football.
Build a purpose-built soccer stadium only to transform part of it less than a decade later into a stage? Confused? So am I.
4. Prior to these works, the club's three supporter groups had been dispersed in different parts of the ground. Recently however, they have joined together in the north corner of the stadium and call themselves the ''Nordecke'', a German word meaning ''North corner'' thus celebrating the German heritage of Columbus.
5. The club's record attendance still stands from a game in September 1996, with nearly 32,000 supporters witnessing the Crew defeat the Metrostars 2-0.
6. In July 1998, Brian McBride became the first Crew player to be named MVP of the MLS All-Star game, as he registered a goal and two assists in the first half of the MLS USA All-Stars' 6-1 victory over the MLS World All-Stars. The ex-Fulham and Everton striker has since gone on to become the club's all-time leading goalscorer with 62 goals.
7. On June 16 1999, the first-ever Buck-A-Brat night took place at Crew Stadium: Crew fans devoured 14,659 bratwurst. Two years and two months later, the Crew sold its 125,000th bratwurst. Neat!
More weird and wonderful facts next time around about the Maltese giants FC Marsaxxlok.
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