Columbus Crew SC midfielder Ethan Finlay has made 27 regular-season appearances for the club since May 17, 2014 at Portland. Over that span, Finlay has recorded at least one goal or assist in 17 of the 27 matches (63%). The former Creighton Bluejay has 11 goals and nine assists over his MLS career, with all coming since that match at Providence Park.
Goalkeeper Steve Clark made six saves in the contest against Whitecaps FC, tying his all-time MLS career-best. Clark now has five separate six-save performances in Major League Soccer regular-season play, with the last coming on October 26, 2014 against Philadelphia prior to Wednesday. Since entering MLS ahead of last season, Clark is tied for third in the League in total saves, with 126.
On three separate occasions, Columbus Crew SC players have recorded an individual match with at least six attempted shots. Justin Meram has achieved the feat once (March 14 vs. Toronto FC, seven shots) and Kei Kamara has done it twice (March 7 at Houston, six shots; April 8 at Vancouver, six shots). There have been just 14 League-wide matches of this nature in 2014, and only Vancouver has more individual six-or-more shot performances (four) than the Black & Gold.
RETURN TO GILLETTE STADIUM
Columbus Crew SC and the New England Revolution are set to renew their rivalry with the first regular-season meeting between the sides in 2015 and the first match-up of the two clubs since the 2014 Eastern Conference Semifinals. In all-time regular season play, the Black & Gold are 31-21-11 against New England, including a mark of 14-13-5 in Foxborough. Crew SC took the 2014 regular-season series between the clubs with a 2-1-0 record. Additionally, the clubs have met in the postseason three times (2002, 2004, 2014).
LAST REGULAR SEASON MEETING
On October 4, 2014, Crew SC and the Revolution met in what would be an MLS Cup Playoffs preview at Gillette Stadium. Ethan Finlay notched his ninth goal of the season, but New England won the contest by a 2-1 final following goals from Lee Nguyen and Jermaine Jones.
HIGUAIN AVAILABLE FOR SELECTION
Following a red-card suspension served on Wednesday at Vancouver, Federico Higuain is set to be available for selection in the match. The Designated Player is Columbus’ leader in both goals and assists since he joined the club on July 27, 2012.
KAMARA RECORDS A BRACE ...
Forward Kei Kamara recorded a two-goal performance, helping Crew SC to a draw on Wednesday at Vancouver. The brace was the Sierra Leone native’s seventh all-time in Major League Soccer and his first since August 10, 2013 against New England, when he accomplished the feat as a member of Sporting Kansas City. The two-goal performance was also Kamara’s first in a Columbus shirt. Kamara now has 55 career MLS tallies.
... THE CLUB’S FIRST SINCE SCHOENFELD’S
The last two-goal match by a member of Crew SC prior to Kamara’s effort at Vancouver on Wednesday was by Aaron Schoenfeld, who notched a brace on October 19, 2014 at Red Bull Arena against New York.
Midfielder Ethan Finlay notched his second assist of the 2015 campaign on Kamara’s opening goal in Vancouver. Finlay now leads the club in the category. The helper was the ninth of his Major League Soccer career. Overall, it also marked the 20th goal that Finlay has been involved in in MLS (goals + assists), with all 20 coming since May 17, 2014 at Portland.
KAMARA AMONG LEAGUE LEADERS
Crew SC forward Kei Kamara’s brace against Whitecaps FC gave him three goals on the season. He is now one of seven players tied for second in the League in the category. Among players with more than one match played, Kamara is tied for fourth in MLS in goals/game (0.75).
GOING FOR GOAL
Following a 15-shot total against Vancouver on Wednesday, Crew SC still ranks first in Major League Soccer in most attempted shots per match (17.3). This weekend’s opponent, New England, has recorded 11.4 shots per match.
Following performances of six and two shots attempted against Vancouver, respectively, Crew SC’s Kei Kamara and Justin Meram continue to both rank in the League’s top three in shots attempted per match. Kamara (5.3) leads MLS in the statistic, and Meram (4.5) ranks third. Kamara ranks second in MLS in total amount of shots (21), trailing only Vancouver’s Octavio Rivero (23).
In club history, Columbus Crew SC has played at Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s BC Place just once prior to Wednesday's match. That contest came on March 9, 2013, in what was Columbus’ third match of the year that season. Whitecaps FC took the contest by a 2-1 final with goals from Daigo Kobayashi and Kenny Miller. Jairo Arrieta scored for the Black & Gold. Excluding first-year MLS stadiums Avaya Stadium, the Citrus Bowl and Yankee Stadium, the current League pitch that Crew SC has played on the second-fewest number of times is Portland’s Providence Park (three all-time matches).
Defender Emanuel Pogatetz recorded 17 clearances against the New York Red Bulls on March 28, setting the single-season high for any Black & Gold player in the category. The 17 clearances are also tied for third League-wide for most clearances in any one match by any one player, trailing Colorado’s Axel Sjoberg, who notched 22 against Philadelphia on March 7, and Real Salt Lake’s Jamison Olave, who registered 18 against Portland on that same date. Over the last five seasons, only two other Black & Gold defenders have totaled single-match performances with over 17 clearances: Eric Gehrig and Chad Marshall.
Crew SC has played just three regular-season matches this year, tied with Montreal and the New York Red Bulls for fewest in the League. The last time that Columbus’ fourth regular-season match came on April 8 or later was in 2011, when the Black & Gold played their fourth match on April 9 at Chivas USA.
A pair of Crew SC players have returned to the team following international duty and are available for selection for the match against Vancouver ... midfielder Justin Meram earned two caps for the Iraq National Team in two separate friendlies against DR Congo in Dubai ... Meram started both matches, which Iraq won 2-1 (March 28) and 1-0 (March 31) ... the former University of Michigan midfielder now has 13 caps for Iraq ... meanwhile, defender Waylon Francis earned his second cap for Costa Rica with a start against Paraguay (March 26) in a 0-0 draw.
Following a red card against the New York Red Bulls on March 28, Federico Higuain is set to be unavailable for the match against Vancouver as a result of the following suspension ... Higuain is slated to be available for selection in Crew SC’s next match, on April 11 at New England.
Crew SC is set to embark on a two-match, cross-continent road trip that will see the club play at Vancouver on Wednesday, April 8 and at New England on Saturday, April 11 ... over the course of the week, the Black & Gold are slated to travel 5,560 air miles from start to finish.
PASSING MACHINE: 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 their own half (fourth), passing accuracy in the opponent’s half (third) and passing accuracy in the final third (fourth).
... AND ON THE INDIVIDUAL LEVEL
Among all MLS players that have attempted at least 80 passes, Waylon Francis (95.1%), Mohammed Saeid (90.3%) and Wil Trapp (89.9%) are the top three passers in the League on an accuracy basis.
KEEPING THE BALL
After finishing the 2014 campaign fourth in total possession time, Crew SC has continued to play strong possession soccer this season ... the Black & Gold’s mark of 56.3% possession leads MLS.
GOING FOR GOAL
The match against Vancouver is set to pit the top two shooting clubs in Major League Soccer against each other ... the Black & Gold rank first in the League in shots per game, with Vancouver ranking second.
Columbus Crew SC’s Justin Meram, Kei Kamara and Tony Tchani have each found the back of the net once this season ... among all MLS players, Meram, Kamara and Tchani rank first, second and fourth respectively in total shots per match ... Vancouver’s Kekuta Manneh, Octavio Rivero and Pedro Morales are all in the top 11.
On a per-match basis, no club has been more effective at crossing the ball than Crew SC this season ... the Black & Gold lead MLS in crosses from open play per game, as well as total number of successful crosses from open play and crossing accuracy.
INTO THE BOX
Among players recording at least 10 crosses from open play, Crew SC rightback Hernan Grana ranks first in crosses from open play per match ... the Argentine is also in the top three in total crosses, successful crosses and crossing accuracy.
As part of the club’s Give Forward initiative, Columbus Crew SC players teamed up with members of the MAPFRE Insurance staff to serve lunch at the Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio on Monday, March 30.
Crew SC’s Michael Parkhurst, Steve Clark, Ethan Finlay, Mohammed Saeid and Emanuel Pogatetz met with families, signed autographs and took photos during lunch. They also took a tour of the facility – the largest Ronald McDonald House in the world – including the Columbus Crew SC Exercise Room, which was renovated in 2013.
Crew SC’s Give Forward initiative is presented by MAPFRE Insurance. Monday’s event was made possible thanks to donations from Crew SC partners at MAPFRE, Papa John’s, Kroger and Pepsi.