A new mural serves as a reminder of Crew SC's deep ties
Near the corner of Hudson and Summit streets, the entire side of a brick building is now painted in a striking black-and-yellow scheme. There's a checkered flag unfurling and a simple message: Respect Your Roots.
The intended audience should be obvious. (The Save the Crew team is nothing if not a clear communicator.)
But as I left Mapfre Stadium after a game against the New England Revolution on Saturday, April 21, the message stuck with me. I thought of my own roots with the Crew and the roots I hope my children can someday develop.
This last point particularly lodged itself into me Saturday. In part, this is because, if Mapfre Stadium has a family section, that's where I sat. Not that I'm complaining. On the contrary, it was the most I've enjoyed a Crew SC game all year.
I knew minutes into the game this one would be different from my typical experience in the Nordecke. It was then I noticed behind me a small voice.
Snuggled close to his mom, a boy, maybe 8 years old, talked excitedly about the addition of midfielder Niko Hansen to the starting lineup. How, he wondered aloud, would this affect the team's tactics and formations? And who was Hansen replacing anyway? Are there three defenders out there?
His eyes searched the field. He counted off the players.
There's Mensah. And Williams.
And so it continued. It was beautiful, truly. I swelled with pride for the future of soccer in Columbus —whatever it entails and whoever it includes.
Soon I was overwhelmed with the type of hope that only children can inspire. I was flanked on all sides by generations of Crew SC fans, each bonding and cheering and groaning together in unison.
A dad carried his baby in a carrier on his chest. Another dad left his seat just after kickoff to find one of the stadium's promotional giveaways for his daughter. In front of me, a teenager bonded with a loud-but-endearing, aging hipster sporting a yellow Crew SC jersey and two scarves.
With each sight, I smiled, knowing that some of my own favorite memories with my dad include Crew games.
It's more than sentimental. It's real and it's rooted, firmly and deeply.
When my dad and I spent a few months recently not talking, it was sports — the Buckeyes and Crew SC, specifically — that helped ease us back into our relationship.
Talking sports was safe, comfortable and well-known. A cynic may even call it a crutch. But if nothing else, sports reminded us both that our shared roots run deep. And during one of our lowest moments, these roots helped us pull out of the funk.
Which brings me back to the mural and why I still find myself thinking about it days later.
It's our roots, more than anything, that make me believe this club will be saved. That the future is filled not with despair and missed opportunities, but with possibilities and memories — memories that will never fade, no matter what comes next.