MLS Regular Season
Columbus Crew SC is headlining this week’s MLS Power Rankings with another road win. That’s four wins for the Black & Gold in their last five away matches, including the last three in a row. They faced a compact Philadelphia Union squad in PPL Park on Saturday, and returned to Columbus with another three points after a 2-1 win.
The Eastern Conference remains close, and Crew SC could clinch a playoff spot this weekend. With a tight race for postseason contention and just seven points separating the top 10 teams in the Supporters’ Shield standings, here’s how Columbus stands in Week 28’s MLS Power Rankings:
MLSsoccer.com moves the Black & Gold up four spots, from 10th to sixth, crediting the clubs solid road win and its propensity to get results.
SI.com ranks Crew SC third, a spot above last week’s position. The website acclaims Kei Kamara’s goal-scoring abilities, mentioning his culmination of 20 goals this season, without a single penalty kick. SI.com also includes the striker in this week’s “Best XI.”
ESPN FC keeps Columbus in fifth, also mentioning Kamara's feat of becoming only the second player in Crew SC history to score 20 goals in one season (Stern John was the first).
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.
Columbus Crew SC has been clicking recently, dropping only two of its last nine matches. One of those came on Sunday, when the Black & Gold were faced with a tough FC Dallas defense and a couple counterattacks.
Despite the loss, Crew SC kept control of the match and pushed to score the entire 90 minutes. Here’s how the Black & Gold stand in this week’s MLS Power Rankings:
MLSsoccer.com bumps Crew SC down a few notches from seventh to 10th, saying Sunday could’ve been a different match if Gaston Sauro hadn’t exited early due to a head injury.
SI.com ranks Crew SC in fourth, acknowledging its efforts to create an attack from several slants to break through Dallas’ five-man backline. “They’re still in good shape for the playoffs,” SI.com says.
Bleacher Report concurs with MLSsoccer.com's ranking, putting the Black & Gold in seventh and stressing that the loss was Crew SC's first since August 1.
By Brad Friedman
Columbus Crew SC did many things right against FC Dallas on Sunday night, but was punished for its mistakes by the visitors who exhibited their strength on defense and counter-attacks.
The box score painted a picture in which Crew SC controlled much of the action, but could not break down FC Dallas’ backline en route to a 3-0 loss. Below, we break down the match by the numbers.
Sunday's nationally televised match was played in front of a crowd of 20,217, the fourth sellout of the season at MAPFRE Stadium. The match also marked the third time in MAPFRE Stadium history that the venue was sold out for back-to-back Crew SC home matches, following a crowd of 20,018 on August 22 against Sporting Kansas City. The Black & Gold are one sellout away from tying the all-time single-season record for the most sellouts at MAPFRE Stadium, set in 2014 (five).
Crew SC fired off 15 shots and kept FC Dallas’ defense on its toes, especially when Columbus attempted its second-half comeback. The Black & Gold spread the wealth with six different players registering at least one shot. Jack McInerney fired off three in his first start for Crew SC.
A high number of crosses put FC Dallas’ defense to the test. Overall, the visitors did well to diffuse many Crew SC attacks to the tune of 41 clearances. To put that number in perspective, Crew SC’s backline registered 16 clearances.
Columbus maintained much of the possession throughout the night, partially thanks to FC Dallas fielding five defenders for much of the second half and parking the bus defensively. Not only did Crew SC hold the ball for the majority of the time, but it also took care of it. Columbus finished with 553 passes, to FC Dallas’ 269, and completed 81 percent of them.
“Three is the magic number.” Crew SC traveled to Yankee Stadium for the first time ever and left one of North America’s most hallowed sports venues with three points. Road wins are hard to come by in the Eastern Conference, and in such a tight playoff race, these points are huge for the Black & Gold—amusing something so big for Columbus happens on the smallest pitch in MLS.
Justin Meram recorded his second game-winning goal this season in the 83rd minute, after subbing in for Cedrick Mabwati in the second half. Following Mabwati's goal on August 19 against New York City FC and Jack McInerney's tally on August 22 versus Sporting Kansas City, Crew SC has now received a goal from a substitute in three straight matches.
Three is also the number of Champions League winners NYCFC boasts, with Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard and David Villa.
Finally, three is the number of saves Crew SC goalkeeper Steve Clark made tonight to ensure his team’s victory. This was his 25th all-time win in Black & Gold and is now just one shy of tying Andy Gruenebaum for fourth place in club history.
Federico Higuain recorded Crew SC's first goal in the 10th minute and added the game-winning assist on Meram's tally. Higuain broke a tie with Guillermo Barros Schelotto in all-time club goal-scoring with his 34th, moving into solo sixth place in club history. Plus, his game-winning helper this afternoon was his ninth all-time, breaking a tie in that category with Simon Elliott and Brian Maisonneuve to move into fifth place all-time in Black & Gold history.
Crew SC also notched 34 crosses against New York City FC, compared to the expansion club’s four. This led to 23 clearances by NYC, while Columbus was only required to get it out of danger nine times.