There have been many great and memorable goals in Columbus Crew history. There was Brian McBride’s header-to-himself and volley in the inaugural game in 1996, the Stern John “three seconds to play” goal in 1999, Robert Warzycha’s golden goal free kick in 2000, Marshall over McBride and Guille-to-Frankie in 2008, William Hesmer’s equalizer in Toronto in 2010, Justin Meram’s J90+4 winner in Seattle, numerous Moffat Rockets and Pipa Chips, and Wil Trapp’s of Columbus, by Columbus, for Columbus long-distance strike this summer.
None of them, however, are the greatest goal in Columbus Crew history. That honor now belongs to THIS:
Video courtesy of Thomas Costello
The goal was so great that it is almost indescribable. That did not stop two Crew legends from giving it a try.
Brian McBride was not in the game at the time. He watched it from the sidelines.
“I felt like I was watching a combination of the Harlem Globetrotters and Benny Hill,” he said.
Dante Washington also watched the play while standing near the sideline, totally cherrypicking instead of helping his teammates defend the dangerous restart.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “Seeing those guys running around in a circle, you know that spiral wheel with all the different colors and you’re just supposed to look at the center and you get hypnotized? That’s what it felt like.”
What follows is the story of that hypnotic goal from all of the players involved.
It all started with a whistle for a backpass violation or a high boot or something. I honestly don’t remember as I had no idea how consequential the call would be. Let’s get two differing testimonies about it.
“I don’t think the free kick should have been given,” said Edson Buddle, one of the members of the wall. “Questionable call.”
“The free kick was given after a vicious foul from the opposing team,” countered Mike Clark, who was part of the stepover parade.
Defensively, the kick posed some problems. Goalkeeper David Winner considered lining his team up on the goal line and then personally rushing out once the ball got touched. However, his teammates set up a wall so Winner rolled with it. The wall consisted of Tom Presthus, Buddle, and Jason Farrell.
Presthus took an interesting approach by laying down as part of the wall.
“I hoped to block the ball if they tried to shoot under our jumping wall,” Presthus explained. “The theory was flawed from the beginning because there was no way any of those guys in the wall were jumping, let alone jumping high enough for a ball to sneak underneath.”
John DeBrito thinks there may have been another motivation for Presthus’s unconventional tactic.
“Tommy probably needed to rest for a bit,” he said.
On the offensive side of the ball, Team Martino huddled up.
“We just all got together and had a lovely little hug moment,” DeBrito said.
“Martino said let’s let everyone run over it twice and then after the second time, Clarkie can hit the shot,” Chris Wingert revealed about the strategy session.
(Or as Clark described it, “…allowing me to expertly pick out the upper 90 to give our team another goal on our way to victory.”)
For those in attendance, it was a historic chance to see the first set piece play ever drawn up to feature Mike Clark.
“And the last,” Washington said.
Such farcical nonsense could only have been concocted by the coaching mind of Kyle Martino.
“Like everything I do, I came up with that free kick on the spot,” Martino said. “I have visions that come to me. Most of them should be, and are, ignored.”
This vision wasn’t ignored. Until it was.
“It sounded great,” Billy Thompson said. “We were committed to it. But as it was happening, we all just lost it and started laughing.”
The “ring around the Rosie goal” (as DeBrito called it) was designed for Clark. But the plan went haywire. Martino eventually peeled out wide to the right and DeBrito alertly saw an opening for an effective contingency plan.
“I forget who was ahead of Clark, but they never touched it,” DeBrito said. “I was behind Clark, and after a few go-arounds, I saw Kyle standing over there, so I thought it was a good time to pass him the ball. I was getting dizzy. I couldn’t go around anymore.”
Despite the appearance of defensive chaos, with Presthus laying on the ground, Buddle turned sideways, and Farrell doing little bunny hops, Farrell said that Team Washington (aka “The Pink Legends” due to their pinnies) were in total control of the situation but were merely overwhelmed by science.
“To be honest, the Pink Legends had a pretty good scouting report with regard to our opponent’s set pieces,” Farrell said. “So although we were not necessarily caught off guard, the inertia and energy created by the Legend-tornado was disorienting to say the least.”
After a suitable amount of perplex-via-vortex, DeBrito took control of the situation and deftly threaded the needle with an inch-perfect, expertly-weighted pass to Martino.
“He was standing there wide open, so it wasn’t that difficult,” DeBrito said, displaying a Maisonneuve-like level of downplaying phenomenal personal achievements on the playing field.
Martino one-timed the ball into the net, which goalkeeper David Winner then fell into and toppled.
“I think he was dizzy himself,” DeBrito said of Winner after watching the players run in circles. “That’s why he fell in the goal.”
Winner explained the play from his point of view.
“Everyone is dancing around the ball, and once the ball got played to my left, I just saw Kyle appear out of nowhere and he hit it above my left shoulder,” he said. “At that point, I was just falling backwards and then gravity took over.”
What Winner attributes to balance and gravity, Clark attributes to masterful design and unstoppable scientific forces. (Apart from the aforementioned gravity.)
“The thing that truly made this free kick one of legends was the dizzying vortex Dave Winner became a victim of, which caused him to be slammed into the back of the goal bringing the entire goal on top of him,” Clark said. “Easily the greatest free kick ever designed. Props go to Martino, but I don’t even think he could have imagined the effects the swirl would have!”
Winner, naturally, has heard a lot of about the aftereffects of the goal. Former Crew team manager Chris Baer managed to get a dig in after the game, according to Winner. “He told me, ‘You brought the goal down, but you also brought the house down.’”
Said Billy Thompson, “That couldn’t have been scripted better with Dave Winner falling into the goal and knocking it over.”
For his part, Winner has been enjoying it.
“Dante was showing the video to me, and even my wife and my in-laws were howling watching that and joking that it went viral,” he said. “Even the feedback on Facebook is that everyone had such a great time. As much as I hate to get scored on, everyone had such a good time, and even if it was at my expense, I’ll take one for the team.”
But only one. According to Farrell, tactical set piece preparations are underway by the Pink Legends in anticipation of a rematch.
“I can promise you this…we will spend as much time as necessary prior to our next match to ensure that this doesn’t happen again,” Farrell said. “Our (Pink Legends) fans deserve better! That being said, Winner crashing with the goal may have been the highlight of the trip.”
It was more than a highlight. And it was definitely a trip.