A conflicted longtime fan takes in the first game of (maybe?) the last season at Mapfre

For two or three minutes leading up to stoppage time at Mapfre Stadium on Saturday, March 10, I wrestled internally. Had I made the right decision? And could it be the right decision if it left a friend hurt and feeling betrayed?

Around me, the once raucous Nordecke was largely silent. Above me, rocking against the railing, a man yelled profanities. He sounded hurt saying them. In fact, he said as much. “It hurts me to say this,” he said amid his fleet of f-bombs.

Crew SC had squandered a two-goal lead, and with the game now tied and nearing completion, the stadium could no longer muster elation. Our emotions were spent. This game, it seemed, was poised to go the way of our history: bursting with potential but ultimately fizzling out at the hands of an enemy.

But, curiously, this man's ire wasn't directed at Montreal Impact players, or at Crew SC, despite the team's middling performance. The refs were likewise spared.

No, his target this day was a much closer foe: the Nordecke. Or, more specifically, the capos charged with leading the faithful in chants and cheers and songs. He blamed them for the silence.

I couldn't find it in me to relate. I was ecstatic, even if the game was tied, because I was here. In this stadium. With my team. With my family.

Plus, Crew SC came into this matchup having already dos-a-cero'd 2017 champions, Toronto FC, at their place. The season couldn't have begun better.

Then Saturday arrived. The weather was pitch-perfect, and, as usual, the pitch looked perfect.

On the field, Artur and Wil Trapp were everywhere — intercepting passes, sliding in for tackles, launching 70-yard, pinpoint-accurate, cross-field passes to outside backs. Within 15 minutes, Crew SC was up 2-0. The next 45 minutes passed uneventfully, and then Montreal struck net and then, finally, struck net again with only 5 minutes to go.

So, here we are, back at the Nordecke, back to my dilemma.

I look over. My friend is holding two beers. I feel awful. I apologize and tell her I was rude. I explain how I have this weird personal vow to not give Anthony Precourt any money. That I couldn't give up supporting the team, but I wasn't going to support Precourt in the process.

She hands me the beer and she says, “Well, you still technically haven't given him any of your money. So drink up.” So I do.

Moments later, a penalty was awarded to Crew SC. The winning goal was scored and our spirits soared. I swear, in that moment the sun shone ever brighter on the field, and as the final whistle blew and the players began to celebrate, we lingered, soaking it all in as if for the last time.

What a start. What a season already! What awaits?

Justin McIntosh has never won any “realest Crew” fan awards or anything, but he has followed the team since inception. The Last Season? will be a chronicle of what is potentially the final Crew SC season.

So, what's up with Austin?

I get this question more than any other. So here's my tweet-sized answer: Crew SC owners have picked a site. Austin city officials are about to start investigating it. No progress in the 'Bus. Prognosis: Doesn't look good.