MLS Cup 2020: Crew Alumni Reactions, Pt 1

Hey Crew fans! One of the many great things about the Columbus Crew winning MLS Cup is that it can bring 25 years of history together. From Sunday until now, I’ve heard from dozens of Crew alums via text, email, or telephone and I anticipate more to come. Everyone is so excited to see a club that means so much to them lift the Cup, especially after the club nearly ceased to exist just a couple years ago.

Over the next few days, I am going to publish some alumni reactions in batches of five or so. In the interest of time and brevity, some of these are edited down considerably from much longer conversations. Other parts of those interviews will appear in other pieces, so this is just the Reader’s Digest version of some of them.

So without further ado, let’s check in with our Crew family on the happy occasion of a second MLS Cup title for the city of Columbus…


“Great goals. I think we came out and put them under pressure. Sometimes in championship games, players are afraid to make mistakes, but we came out and put them on their heels. Talk about a fairy tale ending to MAPFRE Stadium or Crew Stadium or whatever you want to call it. I know there will be a few more games there next year, but for the last full season under such crazy circumstances to all come down to an MLS Cup at Crew Stadium, and for them to go out on top, it’s just incredible. I mean, I was just sitting there. Everybody was celebrating and the music was going and we were sitting there for a good 25 minutes after. I just didn’t want to leave. You’re just watching the celebrations with a smile from ear to ear. I just want to thank the team and the organization. And I want to thank the fans for the incredible work to save the Crew. And I mean, even if you look at the game, with two starters out at the last minute, they don’t even skip a beat. That’s discipline, focus, unity and every word you can think of. That’s the Crew. So I just want to thank everyone for putting that all together in a year that we could definitely use a night like we had last night. It was a perfect night. We were smiling the whole way home.”

BEN SPEAS (2012-2015)

“I thought it was really special how the team came out and you couldn’t even tell that anybody was missing. They didn’t miss a beat. I played under Caleb and I know how he can get guys up for a game. If you watched the game, there was definitely a clear champion, even if the scoreline wouldn’t have told it. But the scoreline definitely did. Going through all the COVID stuff and missing two starters, it made me think of the Kirk (Urso) quote, “I am strong. I will overcome.” It was just kind of fitting. And it ties into Save the Crew and all that too. With what the supporters and the city and alumni have gone through, it definitely makes me proud to be a small part of the overall Crew family. And credit to the ownership group. As someone from Northeast Ohio, I think it’s awesome to have the Browns connection. It’s a special thing. And then Doc Edwards, he’s been there since the beginning and he ties everything together. It’s definitely a good feeling to know that the club is in good hands. I feel in life, you don’t always get the good ending. It’s just fitting that Columbus got rewarded like that. Not only are we still here and have a new stadium coming, but we’re also the best in the league. It’s just fitting. Nothing but pride and happiness for everyone involved with the Crew.”

MIKE LAPPER (1997-2002; assistant coach 2005-2013)

“From the team almost being taken away from the city to this, I mean, wow, what a roller coaster. The Crew is in good hands with this ownership group. I think it all starts with ownership and their willingness to spend on quality players. And then kudos to Caleb for finding the right mix. What a great mix of passion, fight, and battle, but yet skillful. I mean, they are a skillful team. They are such a dangerous team because when it’s a dogfight, they can dogfight, but if it’s about quality soccer, they definitely have that too. That’s why they are fun to watch. When they need to play they play, and when they need to roll up their sleeves and fight, they fight. I am so happy for the team and organization and everybody who has been involved. Everyone is so proud. I’m sure Sigi (Schmid) was smiling down from heaven. Maybe Sigi and Maradona were watching the game together. You never know.”

ROSS PAULE (2003-2005)

“What a year for the Crew! So special for all those who love the Crew. Congratulations to all the players, coaches, staff, ownership and the amazing community of Crew fans. Chills watching that celebration! So proud of my club! The culture within the whole organization is special. I saw that from day one when I met the team in the airport for the first time on our way to Europe for preseason. I loved playing for the Crew and I felt that joy watching the game and the celebrations!”


“Congratulations. I saw… It was wonderful!!!!!”


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