Were you in Columbus?
There's a pretty good chance that you weren't, and that's okay. One of the great things about this city is that there's a lot of people moving in and out and back again. All of that movement is a trait of having a huge university, a youthful population, and dynamic enterprises that drive commerce and culture. Whether or not you were in Columbus back in 1998, you should take a couple minutes and watch this YouTube video posted by Channel 10. It's a high-definition video taken on September 9, 1998. It's really cool.
It's remarkable to me because, yeah, it looks a lot like Columbus today, but then you see little subtle differences. Buildings that should be there, but aren't. Clothes and cars that at first glance look a little different and then when you look closely you see that they are way different, or at least they're the authentic versions of shirts and shoes that shops are selling retro versions of now for 5 times what the original cost. Where are all the cell phones? Where are the signs on the skyscrapers downtown? BankOne? What's that? Borden? What's that? Hey look! It's the Adam's Mark Hotel! OH MY GOD IT'S THE OLD COSI!
And that's just the first 1:28 of that video. Wow.
One thing that you won't see in this video is the Columbus Crew.* That's not all that surprising, really. This is video of Downtown Columbus, and, as we all know, there was no fantastical downtown soccer specific stadium in those days. In fact, there was no fantastical soccer specific stadium anywhere in those days. And by anywhere, I mean anywhere in the entire United States of America and Canada. Our city achieved that monumental, historic feat one year later, in 1999.
It's also not surprising that you don't see any Crew jerseys or supporter's scarves on the pedestrians, no neon Crew signs in the windows of bars, no billboards on buildings, no ads or bumper stickers or anything of the sort anywhere in this video. The Crew had existed for less than two years the day that this video was taken. It would be, literally, a decade-and-a-half before the Crew even tried to get their existence noticed around downtown—with the noticeable exception of a giant soccer ball hanging from the side of a condominium in 2006.
But if you were to see a Crew soccer jersey on a random fan walking to or from Ohio Stadium in 1998, there was a good chance that it would have looked something like this, or this. The 1998/1999 Columbus Crew uniform is kind of unique in the history of the team. Mostly white kits are rare for the Black & Gold—the current 2012-2013 adidas cycle of uniforms being an fine exception.
The 1998 kits are a favorite. I'm flooded with nostalgia whenever I see a fan at the stadium on match day wearing one of those shirts. I think about Ohio Stadium, Tom Fitzgerald, Stern John, Jeff Cunningham's rookie year, Brian Maisonneuve wearing #10, playing against teams like the MetroStars, the Wizards (nee, Wiz), the Mutiny, the Clash. Like Columbus in the Channel 10 video, things in Major League Soccer weren't so different than today . . . but they were different.
How different? Here are two more videos you should take a minute or two to watch. Maybe these will help. The first one is Jeff Cunningham scoring a brace, with one terrific assist from Thomas Dooley, in a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Clash.
The second is one is simply amazing. I clearly remember watching this game on television. That's Giant Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. That's former United States Men's National Team 1994 World Cup head coach Bora Milutinovic coaching Tab Ramos, Alexi Lalas, and the NY/NJ MetroStars. That's also Alexi Lalas fouling the crap out of the great Stern John, who promptly schools NY and scores a ridiculous header on MetroStars goalkeeper Tony Meola. That's current Indy Eleven head coach Juergen Sommer in goal for the Crew stopping current New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke (who has bright red Manic Panic dyed hair!) to win the match for the Crew.
And, yes, you are correct. That match went to a shoot-out. Things were different.
So you see what inspired today's crest is 1998. More specifically, the Columbus Crew uniforms of 1998. It seems that "Throwback Thursday" is a thing on the Internet these days, so I thought we'd throw it back. And it makes sense that we do this a few times during this 28 in 28 project, because this is about getting people involved. Too many times I've noticed that new Crew fans who bring so much to this fan base are shut out by the established supporters culture. It almost seems like, sometimes, new fans need to pass an exam where they prove that they've been following the Crew since pick a year. That kind of attitude to new people bugs me. It's good to teach people who don't know and want to learn. It's the best thing ever, actually. So, if you want to get involved but you don't know who Diego Walsh is, or how many games David Winner played in goal, or what number Brian West was (17, in case you really did want to know), we won't judge you. Ask! Join! Get involved. Help us paint some stuff. That's what #TIFOSWEAT is about. That's what Massive City is about. That's what Columbus is about.
Some cities just want to watch the world learn.
*UPDATE: After this was posted, it was brought to my attention that if you pause the Channel 10 video at the :57 mark, and look very, very, very closely at the upper right corner of the frame, you can see what appears to be a Crew logo above the "don't walk" sign, and a MLS logo just below it. I think, if my memory is correct, that it might just be a banner that was hanging from a utility pole. Every so often one would run across such banners that promoted different attractions or events around the city. Thanks to the sharp eye of Todd Fichtenberg (@Toddrick33) for catching that. It's totally amazing that he saw it!