Columbus Crew SC
Joined MLS in 1996
MLS Cup: Winner 2008, Runners Up 2015
Supporters’ Shield: 2004, ‘08, ‘09
U.S. Open Cup: Winner 2002, Runners Up 1998, ‘10
Eastern Conference: Winner 2004, ‘08, ’09
One of the ten charter teams for the inaugural MLS season in 1996, Columbus Crew SC began play under the leadership of Finnish coach Timo Liekoski. Coming into the league under the ownership of well known figures in today’s MLS, Lamar and Clark Hunt, the team kicked off the 1996 season with a big 4-0 win over DC United. After 21 more games, their record was 6-16 and Liekoski was replaced by his assistant, the late Tom Fitzgerald. Under this new management, they went on to wen 9 of their 10 remaining games and earned themselves a fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference but ultimately bombed out of the Conference playoff semi-finals.
In both the 1997 and ’98 seasons, they matched their performance in the first season, ending with a 15-17 record and coming in third and fourth place in those respective seasons. Both seasons saw them lose out in the Conference playoff finals, and the ’98 season saw them lose in the U.S. Open Cup final to Chicago Fire. In the 1999 season, Columbus Crew Stadium was finished, becoming the first soccer-specific stadium in the United States, and the Crew christened it with a 2-0 win against the New England Revolution in front of a sold-out crowd. The season ended with a 19-13 record, an improvement on the past three seasons, but there was nothing but disappointment in the playoffs and Open Cup.
The 2000 season saw the Crew fail to reach the playoffs for the first time in club history, with an abysmal record of 11-5-16 record that saw them finish bottom of the now debunked Central Division. The 2001 season saw the Crew start slowly, costing Tom Fitzgerald his management position. He was replaced by American coach Greg Andrulis who would rally the team to finish second in the Central division, but again fail in the playoffs. The 2002 season brought about a great sense of accomplishment, as the Crew finished second in their first season back in the Eastern Division with a record of 11-5-12 and won the U.S. Open Cup for the first time in club history. Crew star and current candidate for the presidency of the United States Soccer Federation Kyle Martino won Rookie of the Year, the first of any Crew players to achieve this award.
The 2003 season saw the Crew again finishing outside of the playoff spots, ending the season with a disappointing 10-8-12 record. The 2004 season saw them win their first Eastern Conference title, amassing a club-record 49 points in the process. This success was short lived, as the Crew failed to make the playoffs in the 2005-07 seasons.
The 2008 season was a breakout season for the Crew, as they won the Eastern Conference with a new club-record point total of 57 (17-6-7), also winning the Supporters’ Shield in the process. They would also win the club’s first ever MLS Cup, also completing the Club’s first ever double (MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield). The 2009 season saw them win the Eastern Conference again (13-10-7) as well as the Supporters’ Shield, to make them back-to-back winners of the Shield.
From 2010-14 they failed to qualify for the playoffs twice (the 2012 and 2013 seasons), and finished high-mid table in the other three seasons. In the 2015 season they finished second in the Eastern Conference and made it all the way to the MLS Cup final where they lost 1-2 to Portland Timbers. In the 2016 season they finished ninth in the Eastern Conference as the third worst team in the MLS above only Houston Dynamo and Chicago Fire, once again not qualifying for the playoffs.
This season (2017) has seen the Crew perform remarkably better than they did in the 2016 season, earning fifth place in a very tough Eastern Conference with a 16-6-12 record. As the season was coming to a close, current owner Anthony Precourt made headlines when he outlined his intention to relocate the Crew to Austin due to Columbus’ inability to construct a new modern stadium in the city. Amidst all of the drama that came from this, the rallying cry of “#SaveTheCrew” spawned as supporters watched their Crew team fell upstart newcomers Atlanta United FC on penalties in the first round of the playoffs, and then go on to defeat the NYCFC across two legs thanks to a big 4-1 win in Columbus. They are set to play a powerful Toronto FC side that just set the MLS record for points in a single season (69).