Columbus Crew Travel to Chicago, Only The Fans Win

Chris GiffordContributor IJuly 13, 2009

CARSON, CA - NOVEMBER 23:  Goalkeeper William Hesmer #1 of the Columbus Crew celebrates after making a save against the New York Red Bulls at the Home Depot Center during the 2008 MLS Cup on November 23, 2008 in Carson, California. Columbus defeats New York 3-1  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls)

As many of you know, I joined the Crew on on their trip to Chicago this weekend as they took on the Fire, part of 250+ other fans that made the trek from our fair city to their sprawling metropolis to form Nordecke West. The on-field action was mediocre at best, ending in the least popular score in sports: the 0-0 tie.

It should have been a 1-0 victory for the good guys but the ref decided for a three-second span that soccer wasn't a contact sport, and called back a goal because Stephen Lenhart used his size and speed and hair advantages against Jon Busch.

Needless to say, we were—and still aren't—pleased with this temporary rule change.

It was a pretty ugly game all around, but as they say in soccer: win at home, tie on the road.

The crowd, however, was in top form. Well, at least we were. I'm not even sure if Section 8 was there. It seriously took me a few minutes to find them in the stands. Turns out that the venerable Section 8, who many have said is the strongest Supporters Club in the league, is just a couple (read: two) sections of fans behind a goal.

Granted, they have a really cool website, but that's about it. They aren't that loud, they have two banners, and they were nowhere to be seen before or after the match. Methinks they're weak. They did, however light some flares as soon as the sun went down, and that makes them edgy and cool and not afraid to break the rules, right? Right?

Right. It also makes them arrested. Idiots.

We, however, were a force in the Southeast corner of the stadium. For a full two hours we were chanting, singing, drumming, and generally raising hell. If not for the mics focused on Section 8 the people watching on TV would have thought the game was in C-bus.

Crew fans are deafening, it's that simple.

The local fans around us were obviously thrown off by the size and volume that we brought, and stadium security watched us like hawks (apparently we have a reputation). But it was to no avail, because in the 87th minute the smoke bombs went off and everything was covered in a yellow haze.

We brought the complete package to Toyota Park last night, and hopefully the league lets us put on a clinic in the offseason to teach the fans from Colorado and Dallas and KC how to support their clubs, both at home and on the road.

A note to sports fans in general: If, after a few too many shots of liquid courage, you decide someone needs to go pick on the opposing team's fans, and you decide that someone should be you, it's never wise to run through a group of a couple hundred of them to get to the biggest guy with the intent of stealing his cooler. You will get dropped. And then you will get drop kicked. It's true, I saw it happen.

Oh, and you will get arrested—while everyone laughs at you. Idiot.

All in all, it was an outing that can be counted as a success. There were downsides (not winning the game, three pukers on the bus before we got to Illinois) and there were upsides (completely shutting down the Chicago attack sans Defender of the Year, none of our guys got arrested).

And as with anything that is a "first-ever" in life there are minor details that I'll never forget (meeting these guys who threw me some shirts and a hat that made everyone jealous, ultra-late night dinner here).

I have to say this though: I've never been a huge fan of Chicago as a city, but somewhere around 2AM as I was with 10 of my closest friends sipping on some Dunkies coffee and waiting for the train I felt right at home. I'm a city boy at heart and in my opinion it doesn't get much better than that. Even after a tie.

Only 69 days until we return to The Windy City for round 2, and 96 until we invade DC. There is no way I won't be on those buses.