Loughnane: "Our mission is to protect our guests, players, coaches, officials and staff."
By Andy Loughnane
I would like to start by thanking the 21,051 supporters that attended last Saturday’s sellout match against the LA Galaxy. As many of you in attendance or in the area know, our region endured thunderstorms on Saturday evening during the scheduled timeslot for the contest. The storm ultimately resulted in a rain delay of 2 hours and 15 minutes. There have been questions and concerns raised since the delay was initiated and I want to spend a moment this afternoon revisiting Saturday to simply stress that, above all, our mission is to protect our guests, players, coaches, officials and staff.
Weather delays can become an unfortunate reality for outdoor events. Our team and our staff want nothing more than to start at the scheduled kickoff time, and furthermore we recognize that weather delays can provide an inconvenience. Our sport provides unparalleled theatre, however one thing all open-air venues must safeguard against is the emergence of lightning and severe weather.
As the original kickoff time approached, our weather intelligence indicated that there was a high probability that a thunderstorm – with lightning – would travel directly in the vicinity of MAPFRE Stadium. In particular, we were concerned with the lightning strikes that were hitting the ground as part of this storm. Our Command Center is equipped with weather technology that can track each lightning strike and it became very evident that lightning would travel inside of the radius that MAPFRE Stadium defines as threatening. Once lightning strikes crossed into our protective boundary, we immediately reached consensus with local officials to make the announcement for all guests to take shelter in our approved protective zones. At this point, we initiated a delay in the start of the match.
Although raindrops did not immediately fall on MAPFRE Stadium, there were constant lightning strikes hitting the ground within an unsafe distance of MAPFRE Stadium. Although I appreciate the questions that have been raised as to why we did not start the match immediately at 7:30 p.m. with no rain overhead, the fact of the matter is that rain alone is not the single determining factor for guest/player safety. Ultimately the lightning struck the ground within one (1) mile of MAPFRE Stadium (and eventually rain directly overhead) and our protocols and safety measures to protect our guests to the best of our ability were in place.
The length of the delay was a function of the speed of this particular storm and the proximity of lightning strikes. Meteorological records will support that this storm moved slowly through our radius and was accompanied by lightning during the entirety of the delay. I know that information can’t return two-plus hours of your Saturday waiting for soccer, but it is important to note that as soon as the lightning strikes (not the raindrops) departed our protective boundary we made a call in conjunction with local officials, MLS League office, and LA Galaxy to start the match at 9:45pm after a mandatory warmup period was completed. We successfully prepared the pitch for matchplay and completed a 90+ minute contest on Saturday evening.
As we continue this early-summer homestand, it should be known that we took the safety and security of our guests into consideration as our number one priority on Saturday and our enacting of severe weather protocol was justified in light of the severity of the storm that traveled in our path. I know the delay was a frustrating one, but as you know the speed and behavior of storms can change without notice. Had we indicated that the storm would last for a specific duration we would have all been wrong because this particular storm moved slower than anticipated.
I want to close by thanking our supporters for your feedback and successful implementation of the safety protocol, including your patience during the delay. Each match is an opportunity to enhance the guest experience, so please know that we are grateful for your support and we look forward to welcoming you back in the near future.
It was a tale of two halves when Crew SC took on LA Galaxy at MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday night.
Los Angeles controlled the first period, while Crew SC took command in the second. Each club picked up a goal and a handful of substantial scoring chances, resulting in an evenly-fought 1-1 draw on Saturday night.
As they often do, the match numbers help tell the story, especially with such a change in momentum after halftime. Here, we break down the key statistics from Columbus and LA's first and only meeting of the season.
The number of hours by which kick-off was delayed. Severe thunderstorms passing directly over Columbus forced MAPFRE Stadium officials to send everyone in attendance to take cover before the match commenced. Players continued to stay loose during the delay and were granted an additional 15-minute warm-up period prior to the 9:40 PM kick-off.
The number represents the Galaxy's first-half shot total and Crew SC’s second-half tally. Each club also registered four on-target shots during their respective halves of dominance. Goalkeepers Steve Clark and Jaime Penedo stood tall and picked up a combined seven saves. The number 8 also represents Ethan Finlay’s assist total on the season. The midfielder leads Major League Soccer in that category, one ahead of Sporting Kansas City’s Benny Feilhaber.
Federico Higuaín’s second-half tally elevated him to 31 career MLS goals, all of which he scored for the Black & Gold. The goal was his fourth of the season, putting him in second place on the team behind League-leader Kei Kamara.
Crew SC’s second-half possession total. Though possession numbers can be deceiving, Crew SC spent a significant amount of time in the attacking half during the final 45 minutes and tested Los Angeles’s backline throughout. The full-time possession leaned towards Crew SC with the Black & Gold coming away with a 54.8% advantage.
Columbus Crew SC versus LA Galaxy – a match so highly anticipated we didn't have enough seats for everybody.
So we added more.
We have installed temporary seating on both the north and south ends of MAPFRE Stadium, so more of Major League Soccer’s loudest fans can support the Black & Gold.
More chanting, more cheering, more noise. MAPFRE Stadium is a fortress and what promises to be one of the largest home crowds will help defend it on Saturday.
Since the stage was added to the south end of the stadium in 2007, additional seating for an MLS match has been implemented only twice. In both cases, Los Angeles was the opponent.
The first expanded-capacity match was played on Sept. 30, 2007, when 24,300 supporters filled the stadium for a match that Crew SC lost narrowly, 2-1.
A year later, on Oct. 4, 2008, another expanded-capacity-size crowd of 22,685 witnessed an air-tight defensive performance from the Black & Gold. Crew SC limited the Galaxy to 10 shots and three corner kicks. Most importantly, Los Angeles was unable to find the back of the net while Crew SC did. Alejandro Moreno scored the game winner during the waning moments of the first half.
A win of this nature, one where much of the second half was spent protecting a slim lead, required not only smart defensive play, but a home crowd that carried the Black & Gold to victory.
“We’re excited to play in front of a full house,” Sporting Director & Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said this week. “When we play in front of a lot of fans, the atmosphere is incredible.”
Don't miss your opportunity to be part of that incredible experience. We still have open seats and there’s one with your name on it. Come to MAPFRE Stadium, bring your lungs and help defend our fortress!
Columbus Crew SC will face LA Galaxy for the 40th time in franchise history on Saturday, when the Black & Gold host the current MLS Cup Champions at MAPFRE Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
Crew SC holds a slim 16-14-9 advantage in the all-time series and aims to improve that record as it pursues its playoff push. Over the years, the series has created some special moments. We wanted to share five of our favorites.
Aug. 28, 1996 – Welcome to Columbus!
Prior to this matchup, the two clubs split their first two meetings of the League’s inaugural season, both of which took place in Southern California. When LA made its way to Columbus for the first time, the club ran into a red-hot Black & Gold group that had ripped off five consecutive wins... and the streak didn’t end there.
Crew SC tacked on goals at both ends of the match with a ninth-minute score by Paul Caligiuri and a 72nd-minute goal courtesy of Brian McBride. Robert Warzycha assisted on both goals. Los Angeles only mustered up four on-target shots, all of which were handled by goalkeeper Pat Harrington to spur Crew SC to the 2-0 win. The Black & Gold went on to extend their winning streak to eight matches.
Oct. 24, 2002 – Black & Gold clinch U.S. Open Cup title
The Galaxy had won their first MLS Cup in club history just three days prior to meeting Columbus for the U.S. Open Cup final. The match was a tightly-contested and physical one, as the two sides combined for 34 fouls and Crew SC’s Chad McCarty was sent off in the 83rd minute after picking up his second yellow.
LA held a 19-10 advantage in shots, but Freddy García, who did not register a goal during MLS play, put Crew SC up 1-0 in the 30th minute. The score would remain that way for the duration of the match to send Crew SC to its first U.S. Open Cup title.
April 2, 2005 – Crew SC opens its season with a bang
Three goals on eight shots is an impressive ratio, if you ask us. Crew SC wasted no time hopping onto the score sheet when Edson Buddle redirected a Manny Lagos cross into the back of the net in the eighth minute. Buddle secured a brace in the 47th, just seven minutes prior to Ante Razov scoring goal No. 3 of the evening.
Los Angeles held advantages in shots (14-8) and corners (6-2), but only three shots required goalkeeper Jon Busch’s attention in this 3-0 shutout.
June 23, 2007 – 10 men, no problem
This match was bonkers, complete with loads of scoring opportunities, two failed penalty kicks and one ejected Ezra Hendrickson. The Vincentian international, that’s Saint Vincent and the Grenadines if you were unaware, was issued a red card after an aggressive challenge on LA defender Ian Russell in the 29th minute.
Chad Marshall and Ned Grabavoy scored the match’s first two goals to put Crew SC up 2-0 by the 58th minute. The final half an hour saw three more goals, including a stoppage-time goal from former Crew SC forward Edson Buddle. Peter Vagenas came close to equalizing three minutes later, but thanks to a diving save by Williams Hesmer Crew SC would hang on for the 3-2 win.
Aug. 16, 2014 – Big crowd, big win
A sell-out crowd of 20,729 in Columbus witnessed one of Crew SC’s most prolific offensive performances of 2014. Four different players scored each of the club’s four goals in Crew SC’s 4-1 rout of the Galaxy.
The Black & Gold scored their goals in bunches. Justin Meram and Ethan Finlay scored just 10 minutes apart from one another in the first half (23’ and 33’), while Ben Speas and Giancarlo González followed suit with goals just nine minutes apart (75’ and 84’).
This Saturday’s match will be LA's first trip back to Columbus since the lopsided loss, and we would love to see you there. Click here to get your tickets... they are going fast.