Eloy Room wanted a new challenge.
It was 2019 at the time, and Room, who had never played outside his native country the Netherlands, was sifting through different playing opportunities across the world. One of which was an opportunity with the Columbus Crew.
The offer was intriguing. For starters, it meant he and his family could go the United States and Room could play in a different league: MLS. He also knew the Crew were looking for a new goalkeeper after Zack Steffen joined Manchester City in the Premier League.
“Columbus gave me a change after the (Concacaf) Gold Cup run I did with Curaçao,” Room said, recalling that summer. “I really wanted to go outside of Europe, so it was a little bit a gamble for me.
“Columbus was the one who made me really confident in the plan and the future. For me, the decision was quick.”
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Since his arrival in the Ohio capital, Room’s presence between the pipes has been as constant as his consistency protecting the Crew goal.
Now through 59 regular-season appearances across two-and-a-half seasons, Room is one of the league’s top goalkeepers. During that time, he’s accumulated 15 shutouts, an MLS Cup title and was recently named the Crew’s 2021 Defensive Player of the Year.
Add that to his nomination as a 2020 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year finalist and the 2021 MLS Save of the Year, and it’s pretty clear that both Room and the Crew have benefited with the player’s decision to join the club.
This past Friday served as a reminder, as the Room and the Black & Gold announced a contract extension through 2023, with a club option through the 2024 season.
“We are thrilled that Eloy will be part of the Columbus Crew going forward,” president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said. “We signed Eloy in 2019 because of his well-established international experience and felt he would be a great addition to our defense. Since joining us, Eloy has not only performed on the field, but he has also bought into the values of the Crew to become a veteran voice and leader in the locker room.”
As for on-field performances, he recorded 83 saves across his 30 appearances in 2021. While his production was similar to his first two seasons with in Columbus, in 2021 Room became a fan favorite, as choruses of “ROOOOOOOOMMMM” echoed inside Historic Crew Stadium and Lower.com Field.
Granted, even the Curaçao international himself said he doesn’t want to hear his name called too much – that means the Crew are allowing too many shots – but he’s fortunate to play in front of great fans.
“It’s a really nice feeling to hear them have your back and support us, especially when you are in a tough spot in the game and I can make a save and the supporters are behind me. That gives me a little push. I think that every player likes when you hear your name.”
With Room back with the team in 2022, he should offer stability to a side that saw one defensive back-four combo after another in 2021. That inconsistency, which no doubt contributed in some part to the team missing the MLS Cup Playoffs, is something the Black & Gold are working to avoid next season.
But regardless of whomever plays in front of Room, that he will be back starting for the Crew offers a sense of security and a defensive foundation that should keep the Nordecke loud each match.
“We have a really good fan base and we want to make the home games like a fortress,” the goalkeeper said. “Some games we did (that) this season, but next season we have to make it like our home base. Nobody can come here and take points from us, and I think we can do that with the support of the home fans.”
Room made a major life decision when he opted to join the Crew in 2019. Since then, it’s been the perfect match for the player and club alike.
It’s one thing to have championship-caliber players on your roster; it’s another to have those players embody what your club represents.
“I think this is my right place to be here,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed the life here, and my family has also. That’s an important thing. It’s far from home, but it feels like home, too.”