MLS Regular Season
Columbus Crew SC lost its first away match in over two months - after winning four straight - when the Black & Gold fell to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night. Crew SC took an early lead on a Justin Meram goal in the 10th minute, but the Red Bulls responded quickly, equalizing only two minutes later on a Llyod Sam strike. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the game winner in the 21st, as Crew SC kept fighting for the equalizer but saw its best a chance - a 75th-minute strike by Federico Higuain - blocked by goalkeeper Luis Robles. Below are a few key numbers to take away from the match.
Gaston Sauro made his second start as a member of the Black & Gold. His debut came on September 6 against FC Dallas, when the defender had to be substituted after a collision with Wil Trapp only five minutes into the match. This time around, Sauro played 86 minutes before being replaced by forward Jack McInerney.
Midfielder Justin Meram's goal was his fifth of the season. The Iraq international has now registered back-to-back seasons of at least five goals. Meram's opener was assisted by defender Harrison Afful, who notched his second helper in seven appearances with Crew SC.
Waylon Francis made his 50th appearance and start for Crew SC. In those 50 appearances the defender has notched 12 assists.
Steve Clark made five saves against the Red Bulls. The goalkeeper now has 104 saves on the season, becoming just the third goalkeeper in club history to reach at least 100 saves in consecutive seasons. He joins Jon Busch (104 in 2003, 132 in 2004) and Mark Dougherty (106 in 1999, 111 in 2000).
Federico Higuain took three corner kicks on Saturday setting a new club record for corners in a single seasson. The midfielder has now taken 137 in total this reason surpassing his previous record of 134.
Crew SC remains one point away from clinching a playoff spot, and sits at third in the Eastern Conference in Week 30 of MLS action. Columbus and New England are tied with 47 points in 31 matches, and the Black & Gold’s next opponent sits at the top of the table—the New York Red Bulls. After a close 2-1 loss at home to the Portland Timbers last weekend, here’s how Crew SC fares in this week’s MLS Power Rankings:
MLSsoccer.com drops Columbus two spots from third to fifth, citing defensive difficulties.
SI.com takes Crew SC from second to sixth this week, but states its optimism looking ahead. Sports Illustrated mentions a road win this weekend could push Columbus into first in the East.
ESPNFC.com brings the Black & Gold down a notch from sixth to fifth, but highlights Kei Kamara’s 22nd goal of the season.
By Brad Friedman
A record crowd was in attendance at MAPFRE Stadium last night as Columbus Crew SC hosted the Portland Timbers in a back-and-forth affair that saw the visitors come out on top.
On paper, the match-up played out evenly. Both clubs had their fair share of promising attacks and neither Portland nor Columbus held an especially firm grasp on the proceedings at any point.
Down 2-1 after 50 minutes, Crew SC had several opportunities to equalize but the Black & Gold couldn't find the back of the net aside from an Ethan Finlay goal that was ruled offside. The numbers tell the story of a match that could have gone either way.
Goalkeeper Steve Clark made several acrobatic saves, keeping Crew SC within striking distance throughout the match. His most notable: sprawling to make a save on a wide open Diego Chará blast.
Striker Kei Kamara wrote his name in the history books with his 22nd goal of the season. He's only the 11th player to score 22 times in a single season. His diving, tight-angled header made Kamara the first player in MLS history to score against 21 different League teams. The goal also extended Kamara’s lead in the Golden Boot race, in which he leads Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco by three goals. Kamara needs only four more goals to tie Stern John’s 17-year old single-season club goals record of 26.
The number of crosses and corners Crew SC registered. Columbus put Portland’s backline on its heels and on several occasions was inches away from making Portland pay for defensive lapses. Waylon Francis and Harrison Afful did well to win balls on the wings and create those chances.
Crew SC held 59.5% possession. It’s not an overwhelming statistic, but Columbus moved the ball efficiently when it did have the ball, as evidenced by 416 passes and an 83% passing accuracy.
Last night's sold-out attendance of 22,719 was the eighth-largest in MAPFRE Stadium history. It was the largest since the stage at the north end of the venue was constructed prior to the 2008 season, edging out the 22,685 that witnessed Crew SC's contest against the LA Galaxy on October 4, 2008. The sellout was the fifth of the season at MAPFRE Stadium, tying the five in 2014 for the single-season club record at America's first soccer-specific stadium. Last night's sellout was also the third straight at MAPFRE Stadium, a new building record.
Another week is in the books, and Crew SC is receiving high praise for its fourth consecutive road win in D.C.—a new club record. Here’s how the Black & Gold stand in Week 29’s MLS Power Rankings:
MLSsoccer.com says Crew SC is playing “what is maybe the most exciting soccer in the League, and it’s proved to be high-risk, high-reward.” Columbus gets a big bump up from sixth to third.
SI.com notes Crew SC's temporary jump to the top spot in the Eastern Conference with its fifth win in the last seven matches. Sports Illustrated moves the Black & Gold up from third to second.
ESPNFC.com also moves Columbus up a spot from fifth to fourth “thanks largely to the two key offensive cogs in their humming machine.” The website says, “if there was 'best duo' award, Kei Kamara and Ethan Finlay would be well ahead of any other pair in MLS.”
Columbus Crew SC is on a roll on the road. For the first time in club history, the Black & Gold earned a fourth consecutive away win by defeating D.C. United 2-1 at RFK Stadium. The victory propelled Crew SC to the top of the Eastern Conference for at least one day. Here we’ve collected the most important numbers from Saturday night’s match.
5 out of 6
Not only has Crew SC won its last four away matches, the Black & Gold have now won five of its last six on the road, compiling a 5-1-0 record over the span. The Black & Gold are one of just three MLS clubs to have won at least five road regular-season games in 2015, joining the San Jose Earthquakes and Vancouver Whitecaps. Crew SC is the only club to compile five road victories over a span of six matches this season.
Ethan Finlay’s 27th-minute opening goal was his ninth of the season. He now has 20 regular-season goals and 20 assists all-time, becoming the seventh player in club history to accomplish that feat. Finlay joins Jeff Cunningham, Brian McBride, Eddie Gaven, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Federico Higuain and Brian Maisonneuve.
Kei Kamara notched his 21st goal of the 2015 regular-season against D.C. United, extending his League lead in the category to two ahead of Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco. Kamara is now five goals shy of tying the all-time single-season club record and six goals shy of tying the all-time Major League Soccer single-season record.
Federico Higuain made his 100th career regular-season appearance for Crew SC against D.C. United, becoming the 23rd player to reach that milestone for Columbus. Only two other active members of the Black & Gold’s roster have broken the 100-match barrier for Crew SC: Justin Meram (116 appearances) and Tony Tchani (104).