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Columbus Crew - A Brief History

20 June 2014

Ahead of Palace's American adventure this summer, takes an in-depth look at our three opponents' history. First up is Columbus Crew who the Eagles will take on in the opening game of the tour.

Columbus Crew began life in 1994 when Major League Soccer was established at the request of FIFA as part of the conditions of the USA hosting the 1994 World Cup. 

Franchises were awarded to 10 teams, with Columbus being one of these. The first season kicked off in 1996 and the Crew were boosted by their first two major signings – American international striker Brian McBride, who was the first ever MLS draft pick, and South African midfielder Doctor Khumalo. The were managed in their inaugural season by former USA boss Timo Liekoski.

Things began brightly for the Crew as they beat DC United 4-0 in their first ever game in front of over 25,000 but nosedived after that, which cost Liekoski his job. The team rallied and went on to qualify for the play-offs but lost in the conference semi-final.

They would go one step further in the resulting three campaigns but endured defeat on each occasion to DC United in the conference final, but thanks to the goals of future-Eagle Stern John the Crew also reached the 1998 US Open Cup final but lost 2-1 to local rivals Chicago Fire. 

In 1999 the side's current home of Columbus Crew Stadium was opened, becoming the first soccer-specific stadium in the US. A couple of average league campaigns followed before in 2002 they lifted their first ever piece of silverware by beating league champions LA Galaxy in the US Open Cup final which allowed them their first crack at the CONCACAF Champions Cup – the North American equivalent of the Champions League.

Two years later an 18 game unbeaten run saw them collect the Supporters Shield which is awarded the to the side that topped the standings at the end of the regular season, but failed to reach the play-offs in each of the next three years. However another Supporters Shield was collected in 2008 and the Crew finally progressed through the play-offs to clinch their first ever MLS Cup, beating New York Red Bulls 3-1 in the final spearheaded by the goals of MVP Barros Schelotto. 

After reaching the quarter-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League, their third and last Supporters Shield came the following campaign but they failed to add to their single US Open Cup triumph after losing 2-1 to the Seattle Sounders in 2010 final.

The last two campaigns have seen them finish outside the play-off places, and finished eighth in the Eastern Conference last year which led to the appointment of ex-Eagle Gregg Berhalter as head coach for the start of the 2014 season, but to date they've won just three league games under his management.

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