Columbus Crew SC and the Philadelphia Union squared off in an entertaining Eastern Conference clash that saw the Black & Gold dominate the first half and Philly pushing for the equalizer in the second. In the end, a brace by Kei Kamara and several saves by Steve Clark made the difference as Crew SC earned yet another victory on the road. Here we break down the match by the numbers:
Kei Kamara returned from international duty with Sierra Leone, and he made sure everyone at PPL Park knew he was back. Kei Kamara scored his 19th and 20th goals of the season, extending his lead in the MLS Golden Boot race to three.
The Black & Gold have now won three straight matches on the road, and four of the last five away from home. They also have three games left this season outside of the Capital City. Where did the time go? We suppose it flies when we’re having fun … (see No. 5).
The number of minutes it took Kamara to score a brace and seal Columbus’ victory over Philadelphia. Over half of Crew SC’s nine total shots were on target Saturday night. They hit five on frame, one was blocked, and two resulted in goals. Not too shabby.
Kei Kamara scored his sixth brace this season, two more multi-goal games than any other player in MLS this season. It also bumped him up in the Crew SC record books to second for most multi-goal performances in a single season. The only player ahead of him is, of course, Stern John with eight in 1998.
Six is also the number of saves Steve Clark made on the night. His career-best is seven saves, which he set at Orlando earlier this year. Clark now has over 200 saves all-time with Crew SC and in MLS.
Steve Clark jumped up a notch in Crew SC’s history books to tie Andy Gruenebaum for fourth in most goalkeeper wins with 26. Mark Dougherty sits in third with 33 wins.
Emanuel Pogatetz heads the ball past Phildelphia Union's Andrew Wenger in Crew SC's 3-0 loss at PPL Park.
Philadelphia’s May schedule featured five matches against four of the League’s premier teams. Playing better teams can result in a higher level of play, regardless of the outcome, and that effort carried into Wednesday night’s match against Columbus Crew SC (4-5-4.)
Goals from Vincent Noguiera and Sebastien Le Toux came only six minutes apart from one another early in the second half. That put Philadelphia (4-8-3) up 3-0, where it would remain for the duration of the match.
Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said Philadelphia's performance was the best play he's seen from them.
"Well, I think the starting point is the Philadelphia Union played an outstanding game," said Berhalter. "When you look at how effective they were and how they were winning challenges and moving the ball, and the competitive desire to win the game, it was outstanding. I think that’s the best I have seen Philly play."
On paper, the clubs did not differ drastically. In stats such as possession, shots, crosses, tackles won, and clearances, the two sides were nearly identical. Columbus and Philadelphia generated only seven on-target shots cumulatively, not including a first half Ethan Finlay shot that missed the post by inches. But Philadelphia’s flurry within the middle 30 minutes of the match created the right opportunities and the Union executed well.
As for Crew SC, a slightly altered starting line-up, highlighted by the absence of captain Michael Parkhurst, proved to be a tough obstacle to overcome, especially with the club playing another road match just four days prior. Wednesday’s match marked the fourth match in 13 days, including last week’s international friendly against Valencia CF, making it difficult to find time for a new unit to mesh.
Chad Barson accepted the challenges, made several strong, defensive tackles throughout the match, and reflected on his team's performance afterward.
"Definitely not the result we wanted," said Barson. "Three games in a short amount of time all against eastern conference teams, so obviously very important games for us and it’s an opportunity, if you get results, to move up in the standings. I think overall it wasn’t terrible, but just a few plays that kind of dug us a hole and it was too difficult to dig ourselves out of."
Teammate Aaron Schoenfeld, made his first start of the season, playing up top and registering a shot on goal tonight. Defender Sergio Campbell also got his first taste of MLS action, starting in the place of the aforementioned Parkhurst. Schoenfeld agreed with Barson on their team's play.
"I think it just wasn’t our day today. We threw away a couple of chances early, so if we take one of those, it changes the game up," said Schoenfeld. "Once they score that goal, they have some confidence behind them and start moving the ball a lot better. On any given day in this league, any team can win, which is the good thing about this league – there’s very little disparity between the teams. So if you come out flat, you’re going to get punished."
Barson is also grateful for the opportunity to play five matches in 16 days.
"That’s the good thing about having so many games in a short amount of time," said Barson. "You forget the previous result and move onto the next one and make sure that you recover physically and mentally and put everything towards the next game."
One of the bright spots for the Black & Gold tonight was Mohammed Saeid establishing himself as the League’s second-most accurate passer with a passing percentage of 89.5 percent. The ranking includes only players who have registered at least 200 passes.
Another quick turnaround lies ahead for Crew SC, but the scene will change to familiar surroundings when the Black & Gold welcome the Montreal Impact to MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
D.C. United– 25 pts. | 1-0 loss at Portland Timbers FC, 2-1 win vs. Philadelphia Union, this week: vs. Chicago Fire, vs. Toronto FC
After a 1-0 loss to Portland on Wednesday, D.C. United bounced back strong and snapped a three-game winless streak in a come-from-behind victory against the Philadelphia Union. An early goal from the Union’s Sebastian Le Toux was matched by D.C.’s 85th minute penalty kick from Chris Rolfe. This sealed a United victory at RFK Stadium and extended its lead in the Eastern Conference to four points.
New England Revolution – 21 pts. | 2-2 draw vs. LA Galaxy, this week: at Portland Timbers FC
In a rematch of last season’s MLS Cup Final, the New England Revolution came out of a hard-fought match with two goals and one point as they tied the LA Galaxy 2-2 in a rain-soaked match at Gillette Stadium. An offensive first half left the match tied at two goals apiece at the half, only to stay that way when the final whistle blew. Despite holding on to the majority of the possession in the second half, New England couldn’t find the back of the net for a third time.
New York Red Bulls – 17 pts. | 2-1 loss at Seattle Sounders FC, this week: at Houston Dynamo
Heartbreak struck the New York Red Bulls this weekend after a stoppage-time goal from Seattle’s Chad Barrett that sealed the deal for a 2-1 Sounders' victory. The Red Bulls started off strong with a goal in the 36th minute, as a free kick deflection gave New York's Lloyd Sam an easy sitter to finish in front of the net. But Seattle stood defiant, scoring two goals in the final 22 minutes to steal the win and take over the top spot in the Western Conference.
Toronto FC – 16 pts. | 3-1 win vs. San Jose Earthquakes, this week: at D.C. United
Toronto FC leaps into a tie for fourth place in the East thanks to a team effort offensively. Though trailing San Jose in possession and passing statistics, Toronto connected well as a team with three goals scored by three different players. Toronto extended its home win streak to two games.
Columbus Crew SC – 16 pts. | 2-2 draw at Orlando City SC, this week: at Philadelphia Union, vs. Montreal Impact
Despite conceding a late-game goal, the Black & Gold can hold their heads high after their 2-2 draw at Orlando. Tony Tchani gave the visiting squad the early go-ahead goal thanks to a cross from Hector Jimenez. It gave Tchani the opportunity to capitalize on a header from eight yards out, and that he did. After a far-post penalty shot from Kaká, the Lions leveled the match at 1-1 and resumed to play up a man. Columbus, meanwhile, held well defensively and managed to retake the lead. A counterattacking cross from Waylon Francis found the head of Kei Kamara for his 10th goal of the season. In the end, Columbus fared well despite playing down a man. A powerful low-bearing strike from Pedro Ribeiro evened the match and sent Columbus home with a hard-earned road point.
Chicago Fire – 14 pts. | 3-0 win vs. Montreal Impact, this week: at D.C. United, vs. Orlando City SC
The Chicago Fire ended a four-match winless streak over a Montreal Impact squad that played with only 10 men for a majority of the match. With possession (64.8%), shots on target (11), and crossing opportunities (22) all favoring Chicago, it would have been disappointing for the hometown team not to have reached a winning result. Despite a rain-soaked pitch, the Fire’s high-paced offense remained intact. Goals from defender Jeff Larentowicz, midfielder Harrison Shipp and forward Kennedy Igboananike continues Chicago’s potent offensive play, having scored five goals in the club’s last two matches.
Orlando City SC – 14 pts. | 2-2 draw vs. Columbus Crew SC, this week: at Chicago Fire
An 89th minute goal from Orlando City’s Pedro Ribeiro salvaged a point for the home team. A successful penalty kick from Kaká, his fourth of the season, left the game at a 1-1 tie until Kei Kamara’s 61st minute header gave the visiting squad the lead. After struggling to conjure up any threatening offensive opportunities, Ribeiro-turned-savior provided the missing link, blasting a low driven ball past Crew SC goalkeeper Steve Clark for Orlando City’s game-tying goal.
Philadelphia Union – 12 pts. | 2-1 loss at D.C. United, this week: vs. Columbus Crew SC, vs. NYC FC
The Union witnessed their two-game win streak snapped at the hands of an 85th minute penalty kick, completing a come-from-behind victory for D.C. United. Philadelphia trailed significantly in possession (39.6%) and rarely were the first to fifty-fifty balls, trailing in duels won 41-53. But the road team held it together defensively in the final third until a mishandled cross in the Union’s own box resulted in a hand ball being called. A successful penalty kick from United’s Chris Rolfe translated to D.C.’s game-winning goal.
Montreal Impact – 8 pts. | 3-0 loss at Chicago Fire, this week: vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, at Columbus Crew SC
Though only having played eight regular season games this season, after a 3-0 loss to the Chicago Fire, Montreal sits in the bottom of the East. After a second yellow card was shown to midfielder Marco Donadel, Montreal became the fifth team to play down a man against the Chicago Fire this season. In the end, Chicago’s speed gave them the possession advantage (64.8%) and the hometown team outshot Montreal by a tally of 20-3, with zero shots on target for Montreal.
NYC FC – 8 pts. | 1-1 vs. Houston Dynamo, this week: at Philadelphia Union
After trading first-half goals, New York City FC and Houston Dynamo played to a 1-1 draw at Yankee Stadium. For New York it was a David Villa penalty kick in first half stoppage-time that kept the home team afloat. However, New York City remains winless in its last 11 games, sitting tied for last in the East with only eight points in 13 regular season games played.
LAST REGULAR SEASON MEETING
On October 26, 2014, Crew SC and Philadelphia faced-off in the season finale at MAPFRE Stadium. The Black & Gold capped-off a perfect year against the Union by winning the contest, 2-1. Zach Pfeffer’s 85th-minute equalizer nearly gave Philadelphia a late draw, but Bernardo Anor won it for Columbus in the 90th.
HISTORIC SUCCESS AGAINST PHILADELPHIA
Crew SC enters this match with an 8-3-1 record against the Union all-time (25 out of a possible 36 points, 69.4%). That figure represents Columbus’ second-highest points-earned percentage against any current MLS opponent (min. two matches played). The Black & Gold only have a higher winning percentage against the Montreal Impact (70.4%).
GALL, SWANSON CALLED-UP
Crew SC midfielders Romain Gall and Ben Swanson are set to be unavailable for this match against Philadelphia after receiving call-ups to the United States Under-20 and Under-18 National Teams, respectively. Gall earned a call-up to the U-20 National Team camp in Linz, Austria on April 17, and is set to be with the team through April 26. Swanson, meanwhile, received a call-up to the U-18 National Team camp in Medugorge, Bosnia & Herzegovina through May 1.
KAMARA APPROACHING 200 APPEARANCES ...
Should he see any action in this match against Philadelphia, Crew SC forward Kei Kamara will have hit 200 career MLS appearances. Kamara’s first MLS appearance came on April 1, 2006 for Columbus, where he scored a goal in his debut against Kansas City. The forward has gone on to make 42 total appearances for Columbus, with 12 for San Jose, 32 for Houston and 113 for Kansas City in his career.
... WHILE AMONG LEAGUE LEADERS
Kamara’s goal against Orlando City SC gave him four goals on the season. He is now one of three players tied for second in the League in the category. The Sierra Leone native also is tied for third in MLS in goals/game (0.67). Kamara also has the overall MLS lead in total shots (28) and is tied for the League lead in shots on goal (13).
FRANCIS, SAEID LEADING LEAGUE IN PASSING
Among the League’s most accurate passers (min. 100 passes attempted), the top two are members of the Black & Gold. Defender Waylon Francis (95.1%) and midfielder Mohammed Saeid (90.0%) both rank atop the League in passing accuracy.
CREW SC SETS LEAGUE MARK
Against Orlando City SC, the Black & Gold passed to a team accuracy rate of 88.1%. That number is the single-highest passing accuracy mark achieved by any MLS club in any match this season. Crew SC also holds the second-highest mark, with 87.1% passing against Toronto FC (March 14).
PASSING MACHINE AS A TEAM
As a team, Crew SC ranks second in passing accuracy, trailing only Orlando City SC. The Black & Gold also rank in the top five in passing accuracy in the opponent’s half (second) and passing accuracy in the final third (second).
PIPA MOVING UP CLUB RECORD BOOKS
Federico Higuain’s goal against Orlando was the 28th of his MLS and Crew SC career, tying him with Dante Washington for seventh on the club’s all-time list. His assist on Kei Kamara’s goal was his 24th of his MLS/Crew SC career, bringing him within one of Eddie Gaven’s 25 for seventh in club history in that category as well. Higuain’s three shots in the match also broke the 200-shot milestone for his career (202).
CLARK KEEPS CONSECUTIVE CLEAN SHEETS
Goalkeeper Steve Clark’s clean sheet against Orlando City SC was his second consecutive clean sheet, as well as his third of the season. The shutout was also his 11th all-time. The Crew SC ‘keeper has now recorded consecutive shutouts three times for the club, with the most recent instance before this one coming from September 20 - September 27, 2014.
GOING FOR GOAL
Following a 17-shot total against Orlando City SC on Saturday, Crew SC still ranks first in Major League Soccer in most attempted shots per match (15.7). The Black & Gold also rank third overall in shots (94), despite having played only six matches.
Following performances of five and four shots attempted against Orlando City SC, respectively, Crew SC’s Kei Kamara and Justin Meram still rank in the League’s top six in shots attempted per match. Kamara (4.7) trails only Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco in the statistic, and Meram (3.5) ranks fifth, tied with Houston’s Giles Barnes. Kamara ranks first in MLS in total amount of shots (28).