Red, White and Crew: How a shared affinity for the Columbus Crew became a cross country vacationing tradition
by Kevin Johnson
I began attending Crew games sporadically in the early 2000s. I took the plunge into the realm of season ticket holder in 2008. I shared my season seats with one of my best friends, Steve, until starting a family made finding time to commit to the Crew more difficult for him.
This is when my niece, Jen, entered the picture and began to change the dynamic of my fanaticism for the black and gold. After graduating with a doctorate in physical therapy, Jen moved to Columbus and started sharing match days with me at Crew Stadium.
Jen has an amazing mind for the game. Her insights on play development and field positioning have really enhanced my understanding of the game. Even more than that, her jubilation when the Crew scores or makes a great play is beyond infectious.
Our away game adventures began in 2011 when my brother in Chicago bought Jen tickets to a Fire game as a graduation gift. I tagged along as the spoiled youngest sibling and we were off to Bridgeview! (Crew lost 3-2)
A few years later, another gift giving occasion and another sibling led to our second outing. My brother in Philadelphia gave Jen tickets to a Union game for Christmas. Once again, I was lucky enough to be included and we set our sights on Chester in 2014. (Crew won 3-2)
After the Philly trip, we kicked around the idea of traveling to watch the Crew play in every stadium in MLS. We decided to dive in head first and are now in our fifth consecutive year of this undertaking. Each off season, we anxiously await the release of the Crew’s schedule, and then we pick a team and plan a multi-day vacation around the game.
In 2015, D.C. was the destination. We enjoyed as many museums, memorials and meals as we could while traversing the nation’s capital. (Crew won 2-1)
In 2016, NYCFC was the choice. We started the adventure back in Philly visiting my brother. We picked up a second niece, Ashley, and took the train into New York City. The three of us hit all the touristy stops on route to Yankee Stadium. While not soccer specific, it was a unique venue to watch a game and a fun atmosphere. (Crew lost 4-1)
Last year was fun in the Florida sun before watching the Crew take on Orlando City. I work in a greenhouse, so I’m used to hot and humid, but I can say that without question that sitting through that game was the hottest I’ve ever been in my life! (Crew won 1-0)
I also managed to sneak in a second Crew away game versus Vancouver while my fiance and I were on a Pacific Northwest trip. (Crew tied 2-2)
As is well documented by now, the beginning of the 2018 campaign brought with it a painful uncertainty. Jen and I had a handful of conversations about whether or not to continue our now yearly away game excursions.
Ultimately, we decided to focus on the positives and and pick a destination. Montreal in October will be the winner as neither of us have been to Quebec province.
This year, a second away game for Jen and I is happening, and once again it is because I am fortuitous enough to have so many awesome and generous siblings. My brother in Texas has provided us the opportunity to hit up Frisco, Texas, to watch our team battle FC Dallas in September.
For myself, Jen, and all the additional family and friends that have joined us in our Crew journey, our love for the Crew isn’t just about business metrics or attendance figures. It is about love, memories, connections, adventures, fun and exploring North America while supporting our boys in black and gold!
We will #SaveTheCrew and continue this travel tradition for many more years to come!