From 1996-2004, Brian Maisonneuve spent his entire pro career with the Columbus Crew. He played in a World Cup for the USA, was part of two trophy-winning teams in Columbus after coming back from a career-threatening ankle injury, and is one of the nicest people you could ever meet. Presently, he is back in Columbus as the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes men’s soccer team.
We recently chatted about the only club he ever played for staying in the only city it’s ever called home.
On the uncertainty during the relocation saga:
It was tough. Selfishly, if you look at my career, I spent my whole career in Columbus, so it’s like if they leave, my whole career is packed up and gone. Columbus was home for me for my entire career, so that was hard just from a personal standpoint, and then knowing what the Crew means to Columbus, it was tough.
I do have to say that I always kept a glimmer of hope, like, “It can’t happen. Something good has to come and they have to stay.” Even before I moved back here, my wife and I went to a couple of Crew games when it was still unknown, and I couldn’t imagine Columbus without the Crew. It’s all Diania and I know. It was tough not knowing if they’d stay.
On finding out that the Crew were 100% officially saved:
I was ecstatic. I was really happy. You always hear some rumblings about this or that and there was all this stuff being floated around that I heard, so you just never know. But once it was stamped that the T’s were crossed and the I’s were dotted, I was so happy. And to know that Dr. Edwards and the Haslams are going to be the owners, you couldn’t ask for a better ending, that’s for sure.
On what fans need to know about Dr. Pete now that he’s part of the ownership group:
There’s so much to know about Doc. First of all, he’s got a heart of gold. He would do anything for you. Obviously, I got to know him quite well with all the surgeries and all the phone calls. You talk about a guy who cares. He was on call all the time. I would call him at all hours of the night when I had questions about surgery or my wife had some questions. He used to joke around, and I don’t even know if he was joking, that he and his wife switched sides of the bed so that he could be closer to the phone to answer my calls in the middle of the night because I had quite a few them when I was going through those surgeries. He would field them and be there for me. He was amazing through everything I went through. Like I said, his heart is huge and he cares.
What a great owner. Someone who has been there from the beginning. Someone who has been through the ups and downs. Someone who has been on the sideline every year. What more could you ask for? He knows the passion and what the club’s all about, and now he’s an owner. If you’re looking for a great ending, you couldn’t ask for a better ownership group.
On Dr. Pete’s emphasis on Crew Family:
It resonates so much. I know when I was here, family was probably the best word for it. The tightness of the group, how we leaned on each other…when you’re a pro, you move to a new city and you don’t have family so you rely on your teammates and your teammates become your family. We really had that in the time that I was here, for sure, and that’s what Doc is all about. To hear him talk about that in a professional club is fantastic. That direction that they’re going I think is going to be great.
On the fan-led #SaveTheCrew movement:
I think it’s awesome. First of all, I want to say thank you to that whole group. They went out and they fought and they did everything possible to keep the Crew here. From afar, I heard of it and read about the movement, and then once I got here, I could feel it, the #SaveTheCrew movement, the passion, and the love that they have for this club. I felt it when I played here, and being out in community, you felt it and you definitely knew it. For them to come into action like they did was so impressive. I know from all the former Crew players when we chat, we couldn’t be more grateful for everything they put into that movement. It’s quite incredible.
On whether keeping the Crew in Columbus helps the Ohio State soccer program:
I think it helps. First of all, the Columbus soccer community is fantastic, and then to have a pro team and a college team, when you talk about a soccer city, Columbus is it. It definitely helps the Buckeyes and the soccer community around here to have an MLS franchise here in your back yard. It’s fantastic. The college players get to go watch the pros. They get to see pro games and be a part of that community, which is always helpful.
On Duncan Oughton claiming that his knee is part owner of the Crew as it was partly responsible for Dr. Pete’s financial capability to buy into the club:
Yeah, I heard that. I would like to think my ankle could argue some ownership rights as well. Duncan and I could be co-owners!
A MASSIVE SEASON is now available as an ebook.