MLS Regular Season
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.
Listen to what Gregg Berhalter, Ethan Finlay and Steve Clark had to say following Crew SC's 2-0 win over Toronto FC in MAPFRE Stadium's 250th all-time Major League Soccer regular-season match.
The Crew's possession-based system requires players comfortable on the ball all over the pitch. That can even be extended back to the goalkeeper position. Holding the ball often means playing it back, and Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark has been an asset this season in helping the Crew do that.
Among all goalkeepers this season, nobody has more ball touches than Clark, and nobody has passed to a higher percentage than the Crew 'keeper. A full list of all MLS goalkeepers with 1000 or more touches is below:
|Goalkeeper||Touches||Successful Passes||Passes Attempted||Passing Percentage|
Although the Crew moved little in this week's Power Rankings, the national media had complimentary words about the Black & Gold's comeback, with ESPNFC calling it "impressive."
See below for this week's ranks as well as last week's position indicated afterward.
MLSsoccer.com: 8 (7)
ESPNFC: 8 (8)
SI.com: 10 (10)
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images
Lost in the hoopla of the Crew's dramatic and unprecedented 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Union was a milestone set by Black & Gold 'keeper Steve Clark. By making four saves against the Union, Clark hit 102 on the season and thus surpassed the 100-save milestone in his first season between the goalposts for the Crew.
In doing so, Clark became the first club goalkeeper to reach the century mark in stops since Andy Gruenebaum in 2012 (124 saves). Clark and Gruenebaum are the only two Black & Gold goalkeepers to hit 100+ saves over the club's last 10 seasons.
The all-time Crew list of 100+ save seasons is below:
Anthony Precourt joined MLS ExtraTime Radio recently to discuss the #NewCrew reveal event and the club's future as Columbus Crew SC. Among the questions Precourt received was why the club decided to change to "Crew SC" as opposed to "Crew FC."
"We are in the heartland of America," said the club's Chairman and Investor-Operator. "The Ohio State Buckeyes are extremely relevant in town. We thought it was important to differentiate ourselves from football ... We play soccer here, we don't play football."
To listen to Precourt's full interview, check out MLS ExtraTime Radio's website.
It was a slight setback for the Black & Gold in the weekly Power Rankings following the club's 2-1 defeat away to New England, but the Crew is still in good position in the Eastern Conference and will look to vault back up the charts with a result in Philadelphia on Saturday.
Check out the full rankings below, with last week's position indicated:
MLSsoccer.com: 7 (7)
ESPNFC: 8 (7)
SI.com: 10 (8)
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images