With only one game remaining before playoff time, Crew fans have gotten used to the flock of new faces that donned the banana kit for the first time in 2011. Though he was an unknown among the Columbus faithful when this season started, rooting for a stalwart presence like Sebastian Miranda has become old hat by now.
It’s easy to forget that Miranda, 31, was stepping into the right back slot previously occupied by longtime captain and club icon Frankie Hejduk. That’s no easy burden to bear, but Miranda, a professional in his native Chile since 1998, has handled it ably, instantly becoming just the sturdy presence the Crew was looking for.
Fans caught on to Miranda’s talent early on, but there was still plenty of skepticism in Columbus and around MLS about the Crew’s playoff chances. Maybe it’s easy to say so in the wake of the Crew’s playoff-clinching 3-0 demolition of New England last Saturday, but Miranda was optimistic about the team’s postseason chances from the start.
“When I came in and saw the team and the players, I knew in the first minute that we had a good team,” Miranda said.
Miranda is a quiet, no-nonsense kind of guy, the sort who prefers books to movies and would rather spend hours watching soccer than go out to see a concert. He was encouraged to join the Crew after consulting with two fellow Chileans who used to suit up for Columbus, Marcos Gonzalez and Sebastian Rozental.
He’s renting a house in New Albany that belongs to Rozental, the same house where Guillermo Barros Schelotto and his family lived during his tenure as a Crew player. And like Schelotto, he spends most of his leisure time at Easton, though such moments of relaxation are few and far between with Columbus jockeying for playoff position at Chicago this Saturday.
Actually, while nobody would confuse Miranda’s steadfast defense with the colorful wizardry Schelotto displayed in Columbus, Miranda carries himself in a comparable way, and he has fit in just as comfortably in Crewville.
“It’s too easy,” Miranda said. “My teammates make it easy to play. And the coach, he trusts me.”