Some people just can’t keep secrets.
The offseason planning for 2019 is well under way, with MLS releasing their offseason calendar, and teams who have been eliminated from the playoffs planning for next year. Part of the planning for the 2019 season includes preseason camps. These days, teams usually escape to the West (Arizona) or the South (Florida or South Carolina). As to the latter, one of the more popular destinations for MLS teams is Charleston, where the Carolina Challenge Cup is held every year. The event is held by the Charleston Battery, who typically host three other MLS teams in a round-robin style tournament.
This year’s event appears to be notable for another reason, since in addition to the Battery, the Chicago Fire, FC Cincinnati and “MLS Team 3” will be participating. Of course, many of you may find it odd that a team wouldn’t be named at this point. Since, you know, the point of announcing teams is to start trying to market the trip to home-team fans and increase sales.
Well, it looks like there’s a good reason for that “mystery team.” I decided to call up the staff over at the Battery sales office, who told me that “Team 3” hasn’t been revealed due to the pending sale of our yellow and black-clad friends in central Ohio. Yes, they did confirm that the Columbus Crew will be the fourth team participating in the Carolina Challenge Cup. However, a formal announcement has not been made.
Much like the news that there won’t be a team playing in Austin in 2019, this news isn’t particularly shocking at this point. However it’s a noteworthy benchmark in the SaveTheCrew saga. MLS has not confirmed this of course; they are still negotiating a sale of the team. From what I have heard, the 2019 ticket sales for the Crew are…complicated. And MLS hasn’t released their schedule yet for 2019 (stay tuned for news on that front).
In any case, this “unofficial-official” news should hearten supporters of the Crew. All that seems to be needed at this point is for MLS to announce a “special event” in Columbus to wrap all of this up. That, of course, is easier said than done.