New York City Football Club face the Columbus Crew on Saturday night.
Hi Nick, thanks for speaking with us. How long have you been a fan of the Crew?
I've been a Columbus Crew fan since 2001. I was a teenager and loved watching Manchester United matches on weekend mornings. I felt I should invest more in something local that I could see in primetime and not as soon as I woke up. Realizing right down I-71 I had a team called Columbus Crew to love and appreciate. I began to invest time into watching and supporting from then on. Starting the Crewland came about after the Save The Crew movement was successful. Other Cleveland area fans of Columbus wanted to come together when we couldn't make the trip to Columbus for the matches. Currently, we meet at Iggy's Bar in Lakewood, Ohio, which coincidentally is the hometown of current Columbus Crew captain Darlington Nagbe. We love reminding people when Nagbe or Sean Zawadski do something awesome on the field where they grew up in Ohio.
What has been your highlight in that time?
I think that it's very easy to say a big highlight is being able to watch three MLS cups with two victories. However, the biggest highlights have been more on a personal level - spending time with friends, and bonding over this team. From home game tailgates and traditions to taking away trips to see other cities together. This year I was visiting Nashville and getting to see the atmosphere and great places the city has to offer. My suggestion to any fans of MLS teams is to take these away trips with friends to explore MLS cities and just have fun. We found the Nashville fans to be very hospitable and great to converse with during a very enjoyable trip.
What are your thoughts on the team’s start to the season?
Wilfried Nancy has been a heck of a hire by this team. Caleb Porter was loved by many, even myself, for bringing Columbus its 2nd MLS cup. The results were no longer happening and many wins were turning to late draws or losses under Porter. I was skeptical of how Nancy was playing the team early cause it felt like he was putting players into roles they didn't fit. As the season progressed it was clear that the players were buying into his system and have played well because of that. In this past match vs Inter Miami the Columbus Crew tied their team goal total of the 2022 season and we're only at the halfway mark of the year. The lists made by the likes of people like Joe Lowery and Tom Bogert saying that Columbus is one of the most fun teams to watch is very true. A lot of entertaining moments can happen with this team and I look forward to seeing what Nancy has cooked up for them for the rest of the 2023 season.
What are your hopes for the 2023 season?
I truly would like to see a deep playoff run. Just making the playoffs will be great after barely missing out in 2022. Anything is possible in the MLS Cup playoffs and we've definitely seen some wild matchups over the years. Staying in the top half of the eastern conference will be key to having that success since 8 of the team's ten wins are at home so the longer they can play in Columbus the better for them.
What do you think will be the deciding factor in Saturday's game?
The midfield third of the field will be the area to watch. Nancy's possession-based system will be tested there the most just like last month in New York. Can Keaton Parks and Alfredo Morales disrupt the possession in that area and take control away from Nagbe and Alexandru Matan? This will be a key area to watch with this match. Whichever team can control that area will likely win this match. Controlling the midfield will mean more opportunities for the likes of Lucas Zelarayán, Christian Ramirez, and Cucho or Richy Ledezma serving up to Talles Magno.
And for any fans that might be in Columbus for the game are there any spots you'd suggest they check out?
One of the best parts of the location of Lower.com Field is the proximity to what is called the Arena District in downtown Columbus. There are many bars in this district on Nationwide Boulevard and the area is set up as a DORA for matchdays. This way people can bar crawl from the many options in this location, they just need to ask for the DORA cup when ordering their drinks. If NYCFC fans want to converse with some of the most fun fans of Columbus, every home match in the north lot behind the stadium is The Supporters HQ Tailgate with The Nordecke. There is always free food and drinks for anybody that wants to join the festivities in that lot.
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