In a five-year Crew career from 2006-2010, Jason Garey had some memorable moments, whether it was his backbreaking brace against New England that was an inflection point in the to-that-point tight Eastern Conference regular season race, or his stoppage time Trillium Cup winning header against Toronto in 2009. The Massive Champion visited Columbus in March to show support for Crew fans during the fight to #SaveTheCrew. I recently caught up with him from his home in North Carolina to get his reaction now that the saving is officially done.
On the Crew being 100% officially saved:
Official is good. In the back of my mind, I was always worried there would be some sort of last-minute bullshit thing where Precourt was going to pull something, so I’m just happy, man. I’m just happy that the team is going to stay, that the city is going to have their team, and now there is going to be a new downtown stadium.
It was the best possible ending. It’s not like Precourt decided to stay, or had to stay because he couldn’t get a stadium in Austin. He’s out. Now there’s a new ownership that’s local and believes in the team and the city. The fans get to keep their team and get a new stadium downtown. I mean, it’s how you’d draw it up.
We’ll see what happens to the team in Austin and how that goes.
On Dr. Pete being part of the ownership group with the Haslam family:
Man, everybody knows that he’s such a good guy. He always gave his time and was always involved. Obviously he comes from a family that is well-to-do, but you never really felt that. You could walk to his office and say you were there to see Dr. Pete, and even if he was busy, he’d find time to see you. He’s just always been a part of it. It’s not something he had to do. He didn’t have to put in the time. He didn’t have to put in the extra effort to be a resource for the players, but he did, and he’s been doing it for a long time.
I just think it’s awesome for him and his family to step up like that. I’m kind of in awe a little bit that he was willing and able to do that. He’s putting his money where his mouth is. He is local and the Haslams are local and it’s just a huge win on all fronts.
I think it’s important because the league is getting so much more competitive. The days of not putting resources behind teams and not trying to make it the best environment are kind of over, or you’re just going to struggle. You see places like Kansas City that started out as maybe not the best franchises but developed into tremendous franchises. It’s cool that Columbus is taking these steps. Teams like New England that haven’t taken the steps to try to be big-time are just going to get left behind, I think.
On the plans for retaining MAPFRE Stadium as part of the new training facility and public sports park:
That’s awesome. That’s amazing. It’s something that could be usable all the time. I could see them doing high school football championship games and all kinds of stuff there. That’s cool. That’s awesome, having the training facility close to downtown, and then having the downtown stadium in the area that everybody wants. You spend most of your time at the training facility, and now you’re going to have a downtown cathedral where you go play your games. It’s amazing. Good for them for figuring it all out. That’s impressive.
On the hirings of Caleb Porter and Tim Bezbatchenko:
I’m excited for the direction right now, with a big-time coach who has won an MLS Cup and a College Cup with ties to the Midwest with Akron and Indiana and all that. It just seems like the perfect type of fit. And I never realized Bezbatchenko was from Columbus. You couldn’t have drawn it up any better.
On the fans’ efforts with the #SaveTheCrew movement:
The documentary that Sean Kelly is doing, and the fans getting the word out about the situation and really drawing attention from the bigger soccer names, without the fans doing that, this probably wouldn’t have happened. The team would be gone and we’d just sit there and wonder what’s next. But because the fans rose up and made such a ruckus, it allowed for the opportunity for the solution that came about. It was like, “Holy shit, we’re going to lose a professional sports team. Let’s figure this out.” Great credit to the fans for making it happen.
On hell being real:
I think that whole thing with Cincinnati is going to be pretty cool too. A derby game like that, it’s pretty sweet. You’re talking about thousands of away fans at those games. That’s English Premier League type stuff. It will be intense.
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