Along with Frankie Hejduk, Duncan Oughton has done the most to support the Crew out of any former player. Together, they remain the hard-working, hard-drinking face of the team. Oughton helps out at practice, provides color commentary during TV broadcasts — he and Hejduk even have hot dogs named after them at Crew Stadium.
So the news that Oughton is leaving Columbus to become an assistant coach for bitter rivals Toronto FC is quite the shock. Oughton is leaving Columbus to assist his former New Zealand national team teammate Ryan Nelsen, ending a 12-year stint here that rendered him one of the most beloved figures in Crew history. A press release reminds me that he was a part of all five major trophies in the Crew's history: The 2008 MLS Cup championship, the 2002 U.S. Open Cup title and Supporters Shields in 2004, 2008 and 2009. Off the field his impact was just as huge. Since joining the front office after retiring in 2010, he has been a regular face around Crew Stadium, on TV and in local bars; he always said his dream was to open his own pub here. Oughton leaves behind a deep hole in the organization and an even deeper legacy.
Here are Oughton's comments from the press release: "It is crazy when I look back at the last 12 years – more than one-third of my life – and remember all the great times and the thousands of amazing people I now call my friends in Columbus,” said Oughton. “I have the chance to work with an old friend and ex-New Zealand teammate who’s coaching career is just taking off and cannot pass up this opportunity. I would like to thank the Crew family, all my old teammates who battled alongside me as well as Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha for giving me a chance and teaching me so much in my role since I started on his staff. I wish the best to the Crew: the team, the club and the great people of Columbus."
He'll be addressing the media at training Thursday afternoon.