Crew SC and the New York Red Bulls have met 60 times in regular-season play, but have also faced-off twice in the MLS Cup Playoffs. The Black & Gold met the then- MetroStars in the 1998 Eastern Conference Semifinals, which Crew SC took two matches to zero. Additionally, the sides also met in Los Angeles in MLS Cup 2008, where a 3-1 victory gave the Black & Gold their first MLS Cup championship.
Midfielder Wil Trapp completed 87 passes against Toronto FC in Crew SC’s Opening Match, setting an individual high for any MLS player this season for most passes completed in a single match. Trapp’s 87-pass effort featured 17 more passes than the second-best performance this season, Orlando City SC’s Darwin Ceren’s 70-pass match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The Gahanna native’s 98 passes attempted were also a single-game League high, exceeding Ceren’s 82 passes attempted against the Whitecaps.
With their goals against Toronto FC two weekends ago in the Opening Match, Justin Meram and Kei Kamara became the 21st and 22nd players in club history to record a goal during a Black & Gold home opener. The full list, in chronological order of the player’s first goal in a Columbus home opener: Brian McBride, Pete Marino, Mike Lapper, Jeff Cunningham, Stern John, Brian West, Robert Warzycha, Dante Washington, Edson Buddle, Frankie Hejduk, Ante Razov, Sebastian Rozental, Adam Moffat, Alejandro Moreno, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Andy Iro, Milovan Mirosevic, Olman Vargas, Glauber, Bernardo Anor, Meram and Kamara.
Two members of Crew SC are unavailable for selection for this match while representing their respective National Teams ... defender Waylon Francis is with Costa Rica for friendlies versus Paraguay and and at Panama ... midfielder Justin Meram is with Iraq for a pair of friendlies against DR Congo, with both being held in Dubai ... additionally, midfielder Wil Trapp is set to depart Columbus following this match to join the United States’ Under-23 side for a friendly at Denmark.
WELCOME BACK, KEI KAMARA
In the win over Toronto FC, Kei Kamara scored his first goal for Crew SC since June 30, 2007 in a 1-0 win over the New York Red Bulls ... the goal was Kamara’s 53rd all-time MLS tally and his sixth in a Columbus shirt ... it was his first in MLS overall since he scored a pair of goals for Sporting Kansas City on August 10, 2013 against the Revolution.
PASSING MACHINE: AS A TEAM ...
After the third weekend of regular-season MLS play, Columbus Crew SC leads the League in successful passes per match (427.5) ... Crew SC also leads MLS in total passing accuracy (84.07%) as well as passing accuracy in its own half (92.84%), passing accuracy in the opponent’ss half (76.8%) and passing accuracy in the opponent’s final third (70.78%) ... the Black & Gold have attempted 508.5 passes per match, which also leads MLS, edging out Orlando City SC’s 496.33 passes attempted per contest.
... AND ON THE INDIVIDUAL LEVEL
Among players that have attempted at least 50 passes in the current Major League Soccer season, Waylon Francis (1st, 95.12%), Mohammed Saeid (3rd, 93.22%) and Wil Trapp (8th, 89.93%) all rank in the top ten in passing accuracy ... Francis and Saeid are first and second in the League in passing accuracy in the opponent’s half, while the Costa Rican leads MLS in passing accuracy in the final third ... Trapp, meanwhile, is tops in MLS in passes completed per match (67).
This weekend’s match against Toronto FC is the 250th all-time regular season contest for Crew SC at historic MAPFRE Stadium. The Black & Gold have played in the iconic venue since 1999, recording a record of 126-65-58. Over that span, Crew SC has scored 380 goals at MAPFRE Stadium while only conceding 267, a differential of +113. Columbus begins its 17th season at MAPFRE Stadium with this match. Over the years, the stadium has also hosted eight U.S. Soccer FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – specifically four consecutive “Dos a Cero” victories for the U.S. over Mexico (2001, 2005, 2009, 2013) – FIFA Women’s World Cup matches, MLS Cup 2001, two MLS All- Star Games and a number of concerts.
Crew SC has gone unbeaten over its last 10 Opening Matches at home, with a 5-0-5 record over the span. The club has a goal differential of +10 (14 goals four, four goals against) in those contests. Crew SC has kept a clean sheet in six of those Opening Matches, including a stretch of three in a row from 2010 - 2012. Last season, Colum- bus defeated Philadelphia by a final score of 2-1 in the Opening Match.
The Black & Gold begin the eighth-annual Trillium Cup rivalry series with this match against Toronto FC. The two teams have battled for the rivalry cup during each season since the Reds’ entry into Major League Soccer in 2008. Crew SC has earned the Trillium Cup five of the previous seven seasons, but Toronto FC captured it last season after winning all three meetings between the sides. Total points in the teams’ matches decides the winner, with the first tiebreaker being away goals and the second tiebreaker being overall goal differential.
OPENING WITH A BANG
Crew SC has experienced success in recent home openers, going unbeaten over its last 10 such contests at MAPFRE Stadium ... the Black & Gold have gone 5-0-5 in their last 10 Opening Matches, accumulating a goal differential of +10 (14 goals four, four goals against) ... Crew SC has kept a clean sheet in six of those Opening Matches, including a stretch of three in a row from 2010 - 2012.
The MLS Disciplinary committee has suspended Columbus Crew SC midfielder Tony Tchani one game and fined the player an undisclosed amount for his 77th minute challenge in the club’s match last weekend at Houston ... Tchani will miss the Opening Match at MAPFRE Stadium as a result of the suspension.
NINE-TENTHS OF THE LAW
Following a season in which Crew SC kept the ball at a 54.12% rate, good for fourth in MLS, the Black & Gold continued their strong possession ways last weekend in Houston ... Columbus recorded the second-highest rate of possession among any MLS club on the League’s opening weekend, holding the ball at a 59.43% rate against the Dynamo ... only Philadelphia (62.06%) notched a higher rate.
Columbus Crew SC kicks-off its 20th season this weekend as one of Major League Soccer’s 10 charter clubs. All-time, the club has compiled a record of 247-232-115, scoring 856 goals through 19 seasons while conceding 817. Crew SC is one of just five MLS clubs to break the 850 goal mark all-time.
In 2014, Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter’s first year at the helm, Crew SC totaled 52 goals in its 34 regular-season matches. That marked the fourth time in club history that the Black & Gold broke the 50-goal mark for a full season, joining 1998 (67), 1996 (59) and the MLS Cup championship season of 2008 (50).
Of the current active Crew SC roster, 12 different nations are represented, with a 13th (DR Congo) slated to be added via the summer arrival of attacker Cedrick Mabwati. The full list of countries represented on the Black & Gold roster is as follows: USA (16), Argentina (2) and one each of Austria, Cameroon, Iceland, Israel, Jamaica, Sweden, Iraq, Trinidad & Tobago, Costa Rica and Sierra Leone, with Cedrick to add DR Congo to that list.
Columbus Crew SC offered the following statements on the news that Major League Soccer and the MLS Players Union have reached an agreement in principle on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA):
Statement from Crew SC Investor-Operator and Chairman Anthony Precourt: “We are pleased that a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) has been reached in principle between Major League Soccer and the MLS Players Union. This is positive news for fans of this sport in North America, and of course in Columbus. As our team turns its attention to the 2015 MLS campaign, Columbus Crew SC strives to continue to be successful on and off the pitch, combining good business and good soccer. We look forward to delivering a first-class experience in 2015 for supporters and partners at MAPFRE Stadium and we eagerly anticipate beginning our historic 20th year in the League.”
Statement from Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter: “This is great news for soccer fans across North America. We are excited to start the season and are grateful for the hard work put in by both parties in their efforts to reach an agreement.”
Statement from club representative to the MLS Players Union Ethan Finlay: “We are pleased to have reached a new five year collective bargaining agreement with the League. The players are excited to turn our focus back to the field.”
Columbus Crew SC is one of ten charter clubs in Major League Soccer, competing in the League since 1996. 2015 will mark the club’s historic 20th season ... the Black & Gold have won five major trophies in club history: MLS Cup (2008), the MLS Supporters’ Shield (2004, 2008, 2009) and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (2002).
EVOLVING TO COLUMBUS CREW SC
2015 will mark the club’s first as Columbus Crew SC after undergoing a brand evolution over the offseason ... the club revealed its new badge and brand at a downtown event in Columbus last October ... the brand reveal campaign earned several awards, including helping Crew SC earn the MLS Executive Award for Marketing Team of the Year as well as 12 Columbus American Marketing Association Achievement in Marketing (AIM) Awards.
In 2014, Crew SC midfielders Federico Higuain and Ethan Finlay each recorded 11 goals and seven assists ... the two were just one of four duos across the League to achieve that feat.
The four-team field for the 2014 College Cup is set, and the CSA has one remaining alumnus as the UMBC Retrievers continued their run to the Semifinals.
UMBC, with alum and Westerville native Michael DiCesare, defeated Creighton on penalties to qualify for the final four. DiCesare made a substitute appearance in the match. The Retrievers are the lone unseeded team still alive in the tournament.
Georgetown, featuring David Witkoff, lost to Virginia in penalties in the Quarterfinals. Witkoff made a substitute appearance in the match, playing five minutes. Meanwhile, Michigan State, featuring Jimmy Fiscus and Ken Krolicki, fell to Providence by a 3-2 final. Fiscus started the match, while Krolicki came in off the bench and recorded one shot.
The Semifinal matches feature Virginia taking on UMBC on one side of the bracket, with Providence meeting UCLA on the other side.
Photo Credit: UMBC Athletics
Crew SC forward Kei Kamara recently joined world soccer players such as Yaya Toure and the retired Patrick Vieira in an awareness campaign about the Ebola disease.
Kamara, a native of Sierra Leone, joined the #WeAreAfricaUnited campaign and starred in the above video to help shine the light on healthcare workers on the front lines fighting Ebola in West Africa.
For more information, visit www.WeAreAfricaUnited.org.
Kevan George hit a milestone by making his 10th all-time appearance for Trinidad & Tobago, but the Soca Warriors dropped the 2014 Caribbean Cup Final to Jamaica on penalties.
George entered the match after the first period of extra time, in the 105th minute. Scoreless through all 120 minutes of play, Jamaica won 4-3 on penalties to take the tournament title and qualify for the Copa América Centenario.
The Crew SC midfielder made two substitute appearances throughout the tournament. By virtue of finishing in the top four, Trinidad & Tobago earned qualification for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Playing its final match at the 2014 Marbella Cup, the United States U-20 Men's National Team fell 1-0 to Canada in a match where Crew midfielder Romain Gall started, earning his sixth international appearance with the U-20s.
Gall played the full match for the Americans and finished the tournament with two starts and one substitute appearance. He scored twice in his first start, in the team's opener against Russia's youth setup.
Photo Credit: U.S. Soccer