Chad Barson played in 50 MLS matches with the Crew from 2013-2016, giving him the third-most regular season appearances of any Central Ohioan in club history, trailing only Wil Trapp (157 and counting) and Danny O’Rourke (147.) A solid defender with a good head for the game, the Lewis Center native was a homegrown product out of the Crew’s academy system. Barson won an NCAA College Cup title at the University of Akron under some head coach named…(looks at notes)…Caleb Porter. These days, he is Director of Operations for the Ohio State Buckeyes Men’s Soccer Team coached by some guy named…(looks at notes)….Brian Maisonneuve.
“I love being home,” he said. “I love being at Ohio State and this is a good time for the program going forward.”
I recently caught up with Barson to talk about his hometown Crew being saved. Here’s what he had to say…
On what it was like to endure the gut-wrenching relocation saga as someone who grew up with, and came up through, the club:
I’ll be brutally honest. As much support as there was and as much as I personally wanted the Crew to stay, I never felt that it was possible that they could. The way that it was talked about and the discussions about business metrics, it was like there was an excuse for everything. I get that it’s professional sports and it revolves around money and I never thought that the league would find a way to keep the Crew here. I always knew that the support was there from the fans and the community, but I didn’t think that that would be enough.
It was like a part of me and a part of my path were being ripped away from me. I know other players felt that and the community felt that. The Crew means more to the city than just a team that plays soccer. Crew Stadium, and I will always call it Crew Stadium by the way, but there were so many historic wins there, especially for the USA with Dos a Cero. There’s so much that goes into this organization and its past, and it just felt like, “This is all going to be taken away and no one is going to bat an eye about it.”
On his reaction to the Crew being 100% officially saved:
It was great to see that there is going to be local ownership. I know the Haslams are in Cleveland, which is almost as local as you can get, and then it’s truly local with Dr. Edwards and his family especially. It’s great because it shows that people in this community are bought into this community. There is a pride in Columbus.
I feel the same way. I can say that I am proud to live in Columbus and will probably live in Columbus for the rest of my life. I love this city. I love that it just continues to grow and I love the way that it’s moving. The sports scene is a big part of that with Ohio State, the Blue Jackets being downtown, and the Clippers being in the Arena District, and now the Crew also moving downtown and MAPFRE Stadium being turned into a sports park. I love it. It shows how bought-in this community is and how united this community is. I totally feel the sense of pride about Columbus. I love being able to tell recruits about this city and how great it is.
On what Crew fans need to know about his former college coach Caleb Porter:
He’s extremely dedicated, first and foremost. They can’t ever question his commitment. He’s extremely passionate. If people haven’t seen him at Portland or at Akron, he’s an extremely passionate and fiery coach. You love that as a player because it shows that he’s bought in and that he cares, and as a player, you want to see that. I love that. Caleb is one of my favorite coaches, if not my favorite coach of all time. He has your back. I think the organization is in great hands with Caleb as coach and I am excited to see his success for years to come.
On what Crew fans need to know about Dr. Pete as he transitions from team doctor to part of the ownership group:
It just shows how much he cares. He could literally be doing anything, but he found a way to keep the team in Columbus, even if it means changing the role that he’s had since the beginning. He found a way to continue the growth of the organization. Any time you talk to him, you can see how genuine he is and how much he really loves this organization and this city. The fact that he’s been here for so many years, and his family is from here, it’s that extra sense of pride that you need to want to build this team for the long haul. He’s worked tirelessly to get another ownership group in the Haslams that feel the same way. It’s incredible.
On the family feeling that Dr. Pete wants to restore with the Crew:
I think any time you have that family feeling, it’s more than just a job. To have people that have ties to the community and ties to the team, it means more. I think bringing people into this organization that have deep roots here, you care more about it. You want to see that success. It’s not just, “Oh, I go to work, I get paid, and this is what I’m doing for now.” It’s more like, “This is what I’m doing now, and I want to keep doing it and make this a premier destination.” I think with all the hires and all of the roots being exposed and bringing in people that have deep ties to this team and this city, it’s going to continue to facilitate success.
On what he’d say to the fans after the success of the #SaveTheCrew movement:
I would just say a big thank you for their resilience and how much they put into it from the very get-go. The efforts that they put into it over the course of however many months it was from when the announcement was made, a big thank you for their resilience. It just shows their passion for this team and how they want to connect with the players and the community. They do a great job with that.
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