There's nothing like the long term deferral of success to make triumph a sweeter experience. The Chicago Fire won the MLS Cup in the team's first season of existence, and has since been unable to recapture the standard it established perhaps a little too quickly. But the Columbus Crew has kept its public waiting long enough, 13 years, to make Thursday's Eastern Conference title worth a real celebration.
"For all these years, we've been trying to get here," said Robert Warzycha, who's been with the team all along, first as a player and now as an assistant coach. "We've had good teams before, but this team is special. We put a team together that finally was good enough." And all that "under a full moon on a near-perfect November night," as Shawn Mitchell describes it.
"Thirteen years seems like a long time, particularly when you've been to the conference final four times before," said the Crew's investor-operator Clark Hunt. "That makes it all the more sweet." And all the more credit to the Crew for sticking with Coach Sigi Schmid and allowing him the time to build a team. If the L.A. Galaxy had done the same it might still be a soccer team as well as a globally known brand.