As I work on more pieces, here’s yet another batch of alumni call/text/email reactions to the Crew’s three-goal destruction of the defending champion Seattle Sounders. Some of these are edited down from much longer conversations.
ROBERT WARZYCHA (1996-2002, assistant coach 2002-2008, head coach 2005, 2009-2013)
“The Crew really played well. Zelarayan was great. He’s always dangerous. And I want to say that all the effort that the people put into keeping the team in Columbus, and the rallies they did, this win is your success. All the people that believed the team could stay here, this is your championship. This paid off. And then you have to mention Dr. Edwards and the Haslams. I’m especially happy for Dr. Edwards. For all he did to save the Crew, I am so happy that he is one of the owners. And to win the championship, it took us 12 years to win the game. Sometimes you think you are so close, but it takes 12 years, and some original teams still haven’t won it yet. I am so proud of the team and the coaches and the owners. The only thing that is sad and too bad is that we couldn’t have a full stadium (due to health limitations during the pandemic.) It would have been incredible for a full stadium to witness this.”
AGUSTIN VIANA (2013-2014)
“I love that city and the club. We have a daughter Sofia and my son Alvaro from Columbus. The fans are incredible. What they have done for the club was one of the biggest signs of fidelity ever seen before. I love the club and the city. Really happy for Doc Edwards, the fans, the players, and every member of the club.”
MARK DOUGHERTY (1998-2001)
“Caleb has done a great job. To miss two of your key players and then go out and to still have the depth and confidence to still go out, and, I mean, they didn’t win on penalties. They didn’t win on an own-goal. And Seattle is no joke. They’ve been a dynasty. Those goals are not just happenstance. They’ve recreated them in training sessions all throughout the year. So when you see it in real action, it’s like yes, you could see that the effort and the work they put in on the training pitch goes to the field and it’s like damn, these guys are sharp and they know what they’re doing! And Zelarayan, wow. That’s why he’s paid the big bucks. Not a lot of people could do that, even if they are looked upon as the star. To truly be the man, you have to come through in big moments, and he certainly made the difference in that game. And it was also special because we had the first stadium in the country. Now almost everyone has one. But to play in the first game in that stadium and then for the last big match there to be an MLS championship, it’s unbelievable. I got chills, man. It’s an unbelievable story.”
WILLIAM HESMER (2007-2012)
“I am just pumped for the city, the fans, the players, the staff, the new ownership groups. Each one of those stakeholders has delivered so much in their own ways to get to this point. It truly is out of a Hollywood script. The Crew have been fantastic all year. The players have overcome so much. They deserve to celebrate this achievement for a long time.”
DUNCAN OUGHTON (2001-2010)
“When Darlington goes down and Pedro goes down, you go from thinking this is a pretty even game and the best team on the night will win, to most pundits were picking Seattle. I think those pundits and everyone else didn’t take into account Zelarayan’s brilliance. And just think of the Haslams. I think 2020 has been a strange year of disappointment and frustration for most people, but look at the Browns and Crew this year. I think the Browns are doing so well partly because they invested in the Crew and got that good juju. And now the Crew goes and wins a championship game that a lot of people thought was against long odds. I think this championship was the reward for all the hard work so many people put in, from Dr. Edwards and the Haslams, to the players and coaches and staff, to the fans who were making signs and shirts and putting in the work to fight for the team to stay here. I didn’t have anything to do with the team staying in town, but as a former player and someone who has Black and Gold in my blood, just a massive thank you and a big hug. Now, having moved back to Columbus, my kids can go to Crew games. They can witness why this is a special club and a special place for me and my family.”
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