[Review] ‘Save The Crew: The Fans vs The System’ (2017)

Save The Crew (2017)

If they give an Oscar for brilliant documentary made under incredible time pressure, Save the Crew: The Fans vs the System wins hands down. It starts with the first #SaveTheCrew rally:

Morgan Hughes: “This is not over! If you came here for a funeral, you’re in the wrong place!”
Crowd chants: “We’re not done yet! We’re not done yet!”

Producer Sean Kelly, Narrator Scott Sigler, and Ball Street Media concisely present the story of the Columbus Crew. How it started in 1996 as the inaugural and most successful MLS team, beloved by its fans. But after the death of founder Lamar Hunt, the team was neglected into slow decline and then sold to MLS predator and villain Anthony Precourt. At the start of playoffs, on Oct-16-2017, Precourt announced his intention to move the club from Columbus, Ohio to Austin, Texas.

The film presents evidence that the move was surreptitiously set up by MLS itself at the time of Precourt’s 2013 purchase. Says Morgan Hughes,

“We have to do things like this. And we have to show the world that those things that MLS and PSV are putting out there are just not true. So today was another big step toward the goal of proving all these false narratives wrong.”

MLS and Precourt were tanking the Crew

Citizen data analyst Tim Myers disputes the so-called “business metrics” that Don Garber has cited in endorsing the move.

  • Columbus had more >60 sponsors and more sponsors than the average MLS club
  • Precourt complained that support at Columbus was not wide-spread, and characterized it as “an inch wide and a mile deep”. But Columbus had twice the per-capita attendance of major cities.
  • Average team attendance was down this year, but 1/3 of the decline was statistically attributable to sub-optimal scheduling
  • The Crew was the only team that went 3 years with only one DP, even though DPs add to home game attendance

In other words, to side with Alejandro Moreno, MLS owners have been “tanking” the club. It appears MLS and Don Garber have made the Columbus Crew fit business metrics that support their case.

Columbus Crew fans

The film is not all drama and exposé. Besides the fan stories, the crowds, and the tailgates, the film shows how the Nordecke supporters group makes their giant TIFOs in a process they call #TIFOSweat inside the Land-Grant Brewing Company.

The film doesn’t show much soccer, as it is really about the fans. Jack to a King is another film about fans trying to save a team (Swansea City). But Save the Crew is a different beast of a football film because it has been produced in the middle of the conflict. There is a small chance that the #SaveTheCrew movement could keep the team in Columbus. We can only hope they succeed. (see update below)

9 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 9

Update on Mar-3-2020 — Saved the Crew

I’m doing a little project on cleaning up the website as I migrate to a new meta-data plugin. And I realize that I did not update this review needs to be updated to note that the #SaveTheCrew movement succeeded! The Columbus Crew was officially saved on Oct-12-2018, which is now designated as “Saved the Crew Day”. A new local ownership group was formed, and on Oct-10-2019, they broke ground on a new stadium closer to downtown.

I supported #SaveTheCrew by buying their merch and also buying a mini STH (season ticket holder) package (I live 2,500 miles away from Columbus, OH). Hubby and I then attended a game at Mapfre Stadium. The tailgate crowd there was awesome. I never saw so many people wearing their team’s gear. I also found that the local museum had an exhibit showing how #SaveTheCrew had made history. So I congratulate the Crew fans and their community. They accomplished something that I don’t believe has ever been done in the USA: they stopped a major league pro team from leaving town.