Players reaction to Crew's new owner
By: Andrew KingWith the announcement of a new owner for the Columbus Crew, fans and have been compiling wish lists of dream additions and changes, while new ownership and front office ask for patience before decisions can be made. But what does the team think of the beginning of the Precourt Sports Ventures era?
"It was a little bit of a surprise, but it's exciting," midfielder Wil Trapp said. "[New chairman Anthony Precourt] seems like a very excited owner, and hopefully he'll do big things for us. He came in and introduced himself before they announced it, and he seems like he's really fired up and ready to go."
The team met Precourt at its practice Tuesday afternoon, when they were told the news by former owners Hunt Sports Group (HSG), who had owned the team since its inception in 1996.
"We knew that something was coming," forward Dominic Oduro said. "When [HSG Chairman Clark Hunt] came to the locker room, it kind of narrowed it down because you don't see them all the time to make an announcement like that. We didn't see it coming, but in a way we kind of had an idea."
Head Coach Robert Warzycha, who has been involved in the team for its entire history, said that he was as surprised as the rest of the team to hear of the move, and reflected fondly on his experience with HSG.
"The Hunt family did an excellent job in bringing this stadium to Columbus," he said. "I remember how excited we were as players and fans to have the first soccer-specific stadium in the country. They did a tremendous job and they supported the team for so long."
While Warzycha has not had time to meet with Precourt personally, he seemed confident with the new owner's immediate goals for the team.
"We know what his vision is. His vision is to be the best team in MLS," he said. "That's what he said to us and that's what he said to me. I'm sure he's going to do everything possible to make this franchise very successful."
The new ownership is also another set of eyes for players to impress, and Trapp says that he expects to see a boost in performance as players work to make their mark in front of the new chairman.
"Any time new ownership comes in, you want to show your best because you never know what changes can happen," he said. "We're all just trying to show him that we believe in him and he should believe in us."
Oduro says that the change shouldn't affect the team's play, but that if it does affect players, it should be in a positive way.
"I think that's a separate entity from on the field," he said. "It's got nothing to do with how we play, but if anything, we as players have to do something to impress them."
While players are excited about new opportunities with new ownership, Trapp seemed to suggest that the team's expectations are somewhat tempered, and that they do not expect sweeping changes like the league has recently seen.
"You see a bunch of new stadiums that are going up around the league. We can't ask for that right away," he said. "But you never know, but it would be cool to get a new stadium. They've been talking about a new training facility as well, so we'll see."
Rather than looking toward a stadium, Oduro was more interested in gameday atmosphere.
"From a players' point of view, more fans, whatever they can do to get people to come to games," he said. "Marketing strategy, whatever it is to promote the people to see the Columbus Crew out there. We feed off of the crowd when we play, and we can't ask for anything but a better crowd to cheer for us. Hopefully we also see some good players join us."
While Precourt says that he will not be able to attend the team's match in Houston Saturday, he will return to Columbus next week, and hopes to be in attendance when they return home to host the New York Red Bulls on August 10.