THE BEST STORY of the 2017 MLS playoffs comes straight out of Major League. On Oct. 16, SI.com reported that Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt was set to move the team to Austin in 2019 if he didn't get a new downtown stadium in the Ohio capital. MLS commissioner Don Garber issued public support for Precourt, and on the eve of the Crew's playoff opener at Atlanta, team captain and Ohio native Wil Trapp told The Columbus Dispatch: "The league doesn't want us [to win]."
Now an unlikely playoff run has the Crew three wins from a very awkward championship trophy ceremony: Garber congratulating Precourt in Columbus's Mapfre Stadium, in front of 20,000-plus irate fans. A home-and-home series awaits against Toronto, the league's best team during the regular season, but no club has been in better form during the playoffs than the Crew, thanks to a balanced attack led by Federico Higuaín (brother of Juventus forward Gonzalo), Ola Kamara (far left) and Justin Meram (near left), and the emergence of 22-year-old goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
So, no matter what, Columbus is assured of at least one more home game, on Nov. 21, one final rallying cry for fans who want to keep their team in town—and boo Precourt on national TV.