Getting in the game Featured

9:53am EDT July 22, 2002

Crew fans Shane Murphy, a computer instructor for MAC Tools, a division of The Stanley Works, in Hilliard, and Al Burzynski, a financial analyst for the Department of Defense, were frustrated when they could not find enough information about the team. So they established their own Crew Web site when the team started in 1996 — and received 100,000 hits a month, outdrawing even the team’s official site.

Less than two years later, Crew officials hired the two fans to maintain the team’s own site, www.thecrew.com.

They’ve since added features such as audio of the games and coach and player interviews — and increased site traffic a whopping 849 percent, Murphy says.

“We have an organization of about 12 people now that are just all nutty soccer fans,” Murphy says of SportsNet Ohio Inc., the company he and Burzynski founded last year to maintain the Crew’s site and others. Murphy and Burzynski hope the business will one day grow into a full-time endeavor for both of them.

“They were local; they were genuinely interested,” Crew public relations director Jeff Wuerth says of the team’s choice to have Murphy and Burzynski take over the site. “They didn’t just want to do it for a job. It is a lot of hard work, but they wanted to do it because they enjoy the Crew, and that makes a difference.”