By Keith Naas
Dayton, Ohio – September 5 10:42 AM
“I just came up with a crazy idea…to go see the Crew in Montreal. Game’s at 3 on 10/6. That would be a blast. Can you free yourself up?”
This was the text my brother sent. My brain immediately started thinking through that weekend knowing that it would be a hefty road trip and I had some other things on the calendar. After serious thought I responded:
My brother Steve was having none of it:
“I can make it happen on my end. Just need a partner in crime.”
I had to make a few phone calls to ensure everything was good, but by the end of the day I was ready to be a partner in crime:
“It’s all clear.”
Columbus, Ohio – October 5 8:06 AM
After cramming the car full of Save The Crew stuff, we were ready to roll. We had stickers. We had banners. We had scarves. We had socks. We had shirts. We had hats. We had signs. We had magnets on the car. We had a drum. We had 10 hours of driving ahead of us.
Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec – October 5 9:43 PM
My arrived at our hotel, located in a small city outside of Montreal. Looking back, I don’t think there was more than 30 seconds of dead air during the entire drive. It is not often that you get the chance to spend alone time with your siblings as you get older and older. A road trip passing by the brilliant fall colors was the perfect opportunity to talk. We covered the gamut of topics: family, Crew, US Soccer, Buckeyes, family, Save The Crew, politics, family, soccer.
Montreal, Quebec – October 6 11:06 AM
After finishing the drive into Montreal and paying a perfectly reasonable $12 CAD (about $9.25 US) for parking immediately next to the stadium, we were ready to look for something to eat. Our problem was that we didn’t know where to go. Luckily there were three tents directly across the parking lot with a group of Impact fans. In our complete Save The Crew wardrobes, we walked over with the intent to just ask for a nearby place to eat before the game.
They saw our Black and Gold, motioned to the tent and immediately welcomed us to their tailgate. We soon met the members of 1642 & Section 127, two of the Impact supporter groups, and they were ready and eager to support. But they weren’t there just to support their team — they were supporting Save The Crew. They wanted to know everything about where things stand with the movement. They wanted scarves. They wanted stickers. They wanted to know if we knew Travis Irvine. They wanted to share beers and potato salad and sausages. They wanted pictures. They wanted to laugh about the Drogba Leg Lock. They wanted us to tell any other Crew fans to join them. They wanted to hang Janelle’s “Sauvons El Crew” banner in their section. They wanted us to take it easy on them since the Impact needed the points more than the Crew.
Away fans, seek out 1642 & Section 127. They are good people.
Montreal, Quebec – October 6 2:30 PM
Even with a thorough inspection of our drum and banners, we were in our section within just a few minutes. The banners were easily hung….after drafting the help of the generous youths in the suite just above the banner railing. Like I said, they are good people.
Montreal, Quebec – October 6 3:00 PM
Kickoff. Janelle drummed. We chanted.
Montreal, Quebec – October 6 3:52 PM
At halftime, we were approached by a tall stranger in Crew gear. He offered his hand and introduced himself. He is the uncle of a current player who had made the trip up from New England to watch his nephew play. He was interested in the latest news about Save The Crew, as well as how the team was doing on the field and off. We talked and watched the match for a good 25 minutes. He is good people.
Montreal, Quebec – October 6 5:05 PM
We are leaving the stadium after a well-deserved 0-3 loss, and yet I know that wasn’t what this road trip was about. My brother and I have another 10 hours to drive back home: to listen and reflect and converse. That’s what this whole experience was about. The soccer game was just the medium. But first we must stop to eat poutine.
Thousand Islands, the Canadian side, north of upstate New York – October 6 9:49 PM
We were the only car at the border, and yet still selected for a random search.
Border Patrol Officer:
“What were you doing in Canada?”
“We went to see the Columbus Crew play the Montreal Impact”
Border Patrol Officer proceeds to stare at us blankly with no hint of recognition.
Border Patrol Officer:
Thousand Islands, now in New York – October 6 9:56 PM
We were back on the road and madly dialing on our phones to find a hotel with a vacancy. Everything was booked. Canadian Thanksgiving? Hunting season? We never found out, but eventually we found ourselves in a Syracuse hotel for the night.
Columbus, Ohio – October 6 4:35 PM
Home. Minus scarves and stickers. Plus insights and experiences.
At some point along the drive home I asked Steve, “Why did you think of a road trip now? What initiated the idea for it?” After considering the question and thinking about a recent experience, he replied that he just didn’t want to miss out on the time that seems to be fluttering away from us with each passing year.
This is our soccer.
This is our beautiful game.
This is our canvas for creating and sharing and reflecting and dreaming.
This is our Save The Crew.