In light of the recent incidents now widely reported at BMO Field during a match two weeks ago between the Crew and TFC, I have a simple question: Does trouble now follow the Crew around? The incidents are chronicled here.
This post is not meant to minimize the Crew’s accomplishment. Sigi Schmid has built his team the right way, showing patience with youngsters through a tough 2006 and 2007 campaign while adding some choice foreign players like Guille Barros Schelotto and making a trade for Alejandro Moreno.
But what does concern me is that a team that continued to lose market share and real fans has resorted to encouraging the sort of element MLS worked 12 years to keep away from games to follow the team.
The Crew are on the verge of winning the Supporters Shield for the second time in team history. They are also right now the biggest threat to Houston’s throne atop MLS. Many in the American Footballing community love what the Crew has done on the field and wan to embrace this organization and team, myself included as an example of how it should be done in MLS.
Let’s Review Some Earlier Incidents:
When I discussed the Toronto situation openly and honestly and tried to engage TFC fans on my CSRN show the complaints about me being “too soft on TFC” all seemed to come from Crew fans. Days later several Crew fans were shouting racial obscenities at New England players as caught on You Tube. The Columbus fans also were caught throwing glass bottles and coins on the pitch during the 2nd half of the match.
In defiance of a league wide ban Columbus fans began sprayed confetti and streamers on opposing players while attempting a corner. Now I cannot recall the specific match but it was done. Why the security did not confiscate the items at the gate is beyond anyone’s comprehension. The league wide ban was more or less enforced throughout the rest of the league. When pressed on the situation at Crew Stadium, Columbus GM, Mark McCullers blamed Toronto FC for the trouble league wide and avoided totally the issue of racist fans.
July s infamous incident against West Ham United in a friendly: West Ham has a reputation for having rowdy fans, but we’ve hosted English clubs before and never had trouble. The poster promoting the match was an implicit call for some sort of nationalistic pride from the fans, which often times in the past has evolved into violence when West Ham is involved. I’m as nationalistic as it comes when this game is involved whether it be the US National Team, Superliga, or even the Caribbean club cup which USL side Puerto Rico participates in. But saying on an official poster promoting the match “we take on the Brits, you push us over the top,” is in fact way over the top and can be seen as encouraging rowdy behavior. How would Tigres supporters have taken a poster in Denver prior to the Tecate Cup match in July ago that read ” Colorado fans put us over the top against the Mexicans?” The poster and its message strongly indicate to me the Crew management has no interest in stopping the continued incidents at Crew Stadium.
This is not to mention the incidents at MLS First Kick at Crew Stadium when TFC came to town in March.
Given all of this, no need exists for the Crew to continue allowing unruly and undesirable elements to follow the team at home and on the road. Regardless of what any Columbus fan may claim just from a layman’s perspective watching on television, the atmosphere around Columbus games has changed and not for better this season. With success on the pitch comes responsibility off it: Time to step up Columbus.