The Columbus Crew are on Fire

Saturday's triumph encapsulates the joyous celebration of Columbus Crew's memorable day, marked by honoring Josh Williams, savoring the team's victory, and welcoming back Will Sands, sparking excitement among fans.
Mar 16, 2024; Columbus, Ohio, USA;  Columbus Crew supporters cheer during the second half of the MLS
Mar 16, 2024; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Crew supporters cheer during the second half of the MLS / Adam Cairns-USA TODAY sports/The

It was a very positive Saturday for Crew fans everywhere as we celebrated the 14-year career of Columbus legend Josh Williams ahead of kickoff, the return of Will Sands after over 300 days, and a dominant 3-0 victory over a then-undefeated New York Red Bulls, who were off to one of their best starts ever in a season in their history.

Happy retirement Josh Williams!

Before Saturday evening's kickoff, Field was filled with celebrations for Josh Williams' 14-year career. As a two-time MLS Cup Champion with the Crew, the festivities unfolded on Chase Plaza, where he signed autographs and posed for photos with fans. Inside the stadium, a pre-match ceremony honored him, with former teammates like Crew legend Justin Meram, Eric Gehrig and loved ones congratulating him on the big screen. The fans chanting his name created a touching moment.

Over his impressive 12-season tenure with the Crew, Williams made significant contributions, appearing in 183 regular-season matches and starting 155 of them. His role was pivotal in securing MLS Cup victories for Columbus in both 2020 and 2023, showcasing his skill and dedication on the field. Williams' impact extended beyond his playing achievements; he was honored with the Kirk Urso Heart Award in 2017 for embodying exceptional teammate qualities and being a crucial leader in the Crew's locker room. Furthermore, his commitment to the Columbus community shone through his involvement in various initiatives, including the annual Stuff The Backpack events, which aimed to support the United Way of Central Ohio and make a positive difference in the lives of others.

Crewsin’ Mode

In a highly anticipated clash between Eastern Conference titans early in the season, the Black & Gold wasted no time, breaking the Red Bulls' defense and taking the lead through Cucho Hernandez within just 13 minutes. It was a rather beautiful initial ball from Malte Amundsen to Yaw Yeboah, which we've seen many times and set up the Colombian to slot it home.

Cucho once again played a pivotal role, assisting Jacen Russell-Rowe early into the second half for a precise finish, extending the Crew's lead to two goals. Aidan Morris then capitalized on an unmarked opportunity near the goal line, instinctively guiding the ball in off his knee from a redirected header from Sean Zawadzki on a corner by Diego Rossi to secure the three points. This victory propelled Columbus to the top of the conference, level on points with Miami but having played one game less.

It was clear that Columbus was in command of the match, dominating nearly every aspect with 13 shot attempts, six on goal, compared to the Red Bulls' three attempts. The Crew controlled possession at almost 60% and had a significant advantage in corner kicks, leading 7-1. Following Cucho's goal in the 13th minute, the Red Bulls struggled to keep up and spent the first half chasing shadows. The second half didn't bring any relief as the Crew scored two more goals within 10 minutes, leaving no doubt about their dominance in the match.

The Black & Gold are now unbeaten in their last 18 home MLS matches with 15 wins and three draws. On top of that, since August 2022, the Crew have only lost once at home, picking up 20 wins and eight draws in the process as they approach the two-year mark. Fortress.

Will Sands returns

Will Sands made his first appearance for the Crew since last April, entering late in the second half. This marks Sands' return to competitive action for the Black & Gold following his ACL tear last year against Charlotte FC, who interestingly are the Crew's upcoming opponents this Saturday. Sands also played for Crew 2 on Sunday against NYRB 2, although they lost, he gained valuable match fitness.

"It was really nice [stepping onto the field again], and it's a moment I've been waiting for a very long time. And after kind of a rough, kind of last year it was good to finally be back and get back into the swing of things."

Will Sands

The mood is at an all-time high, with everyone just loving it, constant sellout games, and the quality of soccer being played by Nancy’s men. Long may this unbeaten run continue, and in the words of Aidan Morris, how could we not run it back, right?