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.
Crew SC players Hector Jimenez, Kristinn Steindorsson, Ben Swanson, Wil Trapp and Tyson Wahl teamed up with the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio (DSACO) for an afternoon of fun at Dave & Buster’s.
Five kids from DSACO got the chance to spend the afternoon playing arcade games with the players. Each child also received a Crew SC mini-ball signed by the players.
This event was a kick-off to the Buddy Walk, which is being hosted at MAPFRE Stadium on Sunday, September 27, and is part of Crew SC’s “Give Forward” initiative, which is sponsored by MAPFRE Insurance.
Columbus Crew SC forward and MLS-leading goal-scorer Kei Kamara today spoke to more than 30 teens at Columbus Global Academy about pursuing their dreams.
Kei told the students about his journey immigrating from his native Sierra Leone to the United States and how hard work both on and off the field helped him pursue his dream of playing soccer professionally and made him into the man he is today.
The teens, who are members of Crew SC’s 2015 MLS Community MVP Derek Braun's biology classes, had the chance to ask questions, take pictures with and get autographs from Kamara.
This event is part of Crew SC’s “Give Forward” initiative, which is sponsored by MAPFRE Insurance.
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.”