There was a lot more than three points on the line for the Columbus Crew Saturday night. Getting a win in the final match at Historic Crew Stadium was paramount, according to head coach Caleb Porter.
“It was very important for our supporters and the past players that we won this last game in this very special stadium,” Porter said after the Crew’s 2-0 victory over Chicago Fire FC. “Imagine the fireworks if we had a loss? It wouldn’t have been nice. Three wins in a row, that’s great, the performance was good — that’s great, but this was one thats bigger than those things. It’s a big win for the club to cement this fitting and perfect ending to what’s been a very special stadium in this club’s fabric of history.”
A crowd of 20,064 packed into the stadium to create an electric atmosphere that helped fueled the Crew players.
“Just to be able to play a game on the first soccer-specific stadium here in our country, it meant the world,” Gyasi Zardes said. “Especially just to have a packed house — I don’t remember the last time it was that packed. It was great, just to play in front of all the fans and family members.”
It also meant a lot to goalkeeper Evan Bush, the 35-year-old Ohio native who earned the clean sheet in his Crew debut.
“I played in this stadium many times before, but never with this jersey on,” Bush said. “It’s something that, as a guy from Ohio growing up, it was a lot of emotions and a lot of things kind of culminating into one and just a great atmosphere, a great night, a moment I’ll never forget for sure.”
Zardes struck for a first-half brace, sending the Crew into halftime with a 2-0 lead. It’s a scoreline — “Dos a Cero” — synonymous with some of the stadium’s biggest moments of US men’s national team victories over Mexico, which was not lost on Porter.
“I think it’s fitting that [it was] Dos a Cero,” he said. “I told the guys at halftime, let’s just shut it down and go 2-0. I wish that was the case, but anyways I think it’s probably fitting to get the 2-0 result.”
While the Crew are set to move into a sparkling new downtown home at Lower.com Field, they’re not saying goodbye to Historic Crew Stadium.
“The cool thing, though, is our training ground is here and I’ll be working, and the players will be working here every single day,” Porter said, with the Crew’s second team also set to play its matches there.
Porter said he’s personally enjoyed a lot of big moments at Historic Crew Stadium — winning MLS Cup as the coach of the Portland Timbers in 2015 and again last year with the Crew topping them. But the stadium’s grand finale will also be up there.
The Crew’s focus will quickly shift to a midweek clash against the Philadelphia Union, but Porter will first take the appropriate time to reflect on a special night for a special stadium.
“Tonight I’m going to have a drink, go home and think about this game and think about the crowd and try to take as many mental pictures as I could,” Porter said. “I want to remember this day for a very long time.”