Jack McInerney couldn't have picked a better way to make his debut at MAPFRE Stadium. The young Columbus Crew SC striker came on for Kei Kamara in the 64th minute vs. Sporting Kansas City after the Black & Gold had fallen behind 2-1. Twenty-four minutes later, McInerney had scored his first ever Crew SC goal and helped the Black & Gold to a thrilling 3-2 win.
Looking at the stats, it may be difficult to believe Crew SC held a lead only for the final five minutes of the match. Here, we break down the Saturday's match by the numbers.
Crew SC overcame two different setbacks to secure the win. Marcel de Jong’s 14th-minute goal put Sporting KC up for 21 minutes in the first half prior to Ethan Finlay’s 35th-minute equalizer. Graham Zusi then put Sporting Kansas City ahead again in the 62nd minute before Tony Tchani drove home another equalizer in the 80th. It only took eight more minutes for McInerney to make one heck of a first impression on his home supporters.
The chants of “Hi-gua-ín” reverberated throughout MAPFRE Stadium frequently on Saturday night. Translation: Pipa had one busy night taking corners. Crew SC’s attack also did well to apply constant pressure on Sporting KC’s backline to earn said corner kicks. Keeping with the theme of constant pressure, Crew SC also fired off 31 crosses to Sporting KC’s 13. In addition, SKC was forced to make a whopping 26 clearances.
Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter’s system thrives when Crew SC can move the ball efficiently, and the Black & Gold did exactly that. Crew SC won the passing category 491-235 and finished with 80% passing accuracy. Sporting KC mustered up only 57% accuracy.
By Brad Friedman
It was a wild night at MAPFRE Stadium: wild weather, wild momentum swings and an abundance of raw emotion.
Both Columbus Crew SC and New York City FC had their moments. Each side controlled various periods of the match, generating high-quality opportunities and pushing the action forward. The topsy-turvy play even continued after a 45-minute weather delay, making for an intriguing finish.
Much like the play on the field, the box score finished almost as even as it could be. Here, we take a closer look at those numbers and break down how they affected the outcome.
Cedrick Mabwati registered his first Crew SC goal. Mabwati ran though New York City’s backline, gave the ball to Kei Kamara who fed a perfect through ball back to him. Mabwati made quick work with the goal, scoring just five minutes after coming on for Justin Meram in the 67th minute.
These clubs had no history together prior to Wednesday night, but they looked like rivals who had been sparring with one another for years. 17 fouls, on top of three New York City yellow cards, made for a physical game with plenty of screaming and hollering between players.
Kamara’s 24th-minute score not only kept him ahead of Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco for most goals in MLS this season, but it also moved him up in the Crew SC history books. The goal put him in a tie with Stern John for the second most goals in a single season for Crew SC. Kamara has nine more goals to go before breaking John’s record of 26 goals in a season, which he set in 1998.
Crew SC held the advantage in possession, but it doesn’t get much closer than that. The Black & Gold held a slightly larger advantage at the half, to the tune of 54.2%, but an early second-half surge from New York City lessened the gap.
Harrison Afful played an hour in his Crew SC debut and he made the most of it. Afful’s speed shined through along the right side, allowing Crew SC to spread the field and create more space to attack in the box. He also showed great discipline when being played one-on-one, making slick moves on the ball and escaping some close-quarters situations.