Martino ready for stadium anniversary

Crew midfielder Kyle Martino was the 2002 MLS Rookie of the Year and has also played for the U.S. men's national team. Each week during the 2004 MLS season, Kyle will detail the week past, giving insight into the life of a professional soccer player. Read his fourth installment here.

To pull some points out of the game against D.C. United is obviously a positive. Any time you get points, regardless of how a game goes, it's better than coming out of there with zero points. The boys battled really hard, and to come up with a late goal, regardless of how the game went, is something to be happy about.

The way we played is something we're not happy about. I think we hold ourselves to a better standard than the way we've been playing, and I think that we know we're a better team than we've been playing so far this season. During the week and in the next game, we're going to try to get things going, try to get on the same page so we can get a bit of a rhythm and become the team we know we can be.

Playing beautiful soccer every week and getting three points is an ideal situation, but it isn't necessary. What we need to do going forward - every weekend, every time we have an opportunity to get points - is to compete and battle. Even if the game's not going our way and we're not playing pretty soccer, at least we can roll our sleeves up and get in the grind and make the plays so we can make sure we get three points. I know that every guy on our team is willing to dedicate themselves to the team and they're a great group of guys. I've seen it for the three years that I've been here. Everyone's willing to do whatever it's going to take to win games. We just need to show it on the field. We've got to work hard this week in training, and hopefully this weekend, we'll get things taken care of.

This weekend, of course, is a big day for our team, our city and our stadium for reasons other than what's going on on the field. Saturday is the fifth anniversary of the first game played at Crew Stadium. There's a poll on TheCrew.com where fans can vote on their favorite Crew Stadium moments.

To throw my two cents in, I would say the best moment I've had at Crew Stadium is the night we came back from 2-0 down to beat Kansas City in the semifinals of the 2002 U.S. Open Cup and go on to play L.A. It's a close one, though, with that moment barely beating out the night we beat L.A. to win the cup. That game against the Wizards was one of the best moments I've had there because the guys came back from being down and showed tremendous heart, and the fans were the most amazing fans that I've seen since I've been playing soccer. The way they got behind us in the rain and stuck it out, knowing we were going to win, was one of the greatest feelings that I've ever had.

To say that you're playing in your own stadium is an amazing thing. Luckily, I've had that since I came into the league, so I really don't know life in MLS without a soccer-specific stadium. It's something that we're very proud of and that the Columbus fans are proud of. We hope all of the other teams get to enjoy the same experience because it's amazing to have a soccer-specific stadium, so we're very grateful.

Now, I'm sure Alexi Lalas can tell you about being a normal person and wanting to have some fun when you're not on the field, and this is the part of the diary where I talk about things outside of soccer.

We got a chance to go to D.C. and it was great because it was Mother's Day. My parents were there, and some other players' parents were there, so on Sunday I got a chance to go out in Georgetown and celebrate Mother's Day with my parents. We had a beautiful day in Georgetown, which is a beautiful place.

We came back to Columbus on Sunday night, and started practicing again on Monday. I think it's pretty obvious that we're ready to get to this weekend because we're just dying to get a chance to show everyone in the league and show our fans that we take responsibility for not playing well, and we're ready to turn things around. We definitely think that this weekend is the perfect opportunity to do that.

I would say that from the opening game, things were getting a little bit better every game, but although we were able to get out of D.C. with a point, we think that game was one of our worst performances. So, we'd like to rebound from that bad game and show that we're not a team that should be taken lightly and that people are going to be able to take points from.

See you at Crew Stadium.

-- Kyle


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