MLS Regular Season
By: Brad Friedman
No team loves scoring goals in front of its own fans quite as much as Columbus Crew SC.
Well, we’re sure other teams love to score at home too, but no club does it more frequently this year than the Black & Gold. Through eight matches at MAPFRE Stadium, Crew SC has scored 17 home goals, more than any other club this season.
Five different players have scored those goals and they have all come about in very different manners. Here, we take a closer look at each one.
Meram Comes Flying In
The League's top delivery man, Ethan Finlay, provided a great ball here, largely because of his patience. He took his time and waited for Justin Meram, Kei Kamara and Federico Higuaín to find space. With Kamara closest to goal and Higuaín coming in with a head of steam, Meram fell under the radar, making him the perfect target for a cross. From there, Meram strikes a powerful header to help send Crew SC to a 2-0 win over Toronto FC.
Francis Delivers, Kamara Finishes
It’s difficult to think that Waylon Francis could have delivered a better ball into the box. He saw the gap widening between Toronto FC’s Damien Perquis and Ashtone Morgan, both of whom were focused on Francis and not the wondering Kamara, and put it exactly where it needed to go. The cross headed straight to Kamara and into the back of the net in a flash, prompting Kamara’s ode to the old logo with his celebration.
Tchani: Right Place, Right Time
Pipa’s corner pinballs off two New York defenders, but the ball failed to be seriously redirected after traveling through a crowd of eight players. While the ball was in the air, Tony Tchani wisely slid behind the defense towards the unoccupied space to the left of goalkeeper Luis Robles. Once the ball arrived at his feet, Tchani was staring at nothing but twine.
Pipa’s Back-heel Dandy
Rafael Ramos put this play in motion with a turnover that went straight to Finlay. Pipa went to challenge Ramos prior to his turnover, so he was already in plenty of space only a few yards out. By the time he got the ball, Donovan Ricketts was looming and Pipa had to fire off a shot quickly – and that he did.
Meram Fires It Into the Upper 90
Just like the first goal of the match, Meram’s opportunity presented itself after an Orlando City turnover in its own box. Cristian Higuita did a nice job of intercepting the cross, but Kamara’s effort to get him off the ball was even better. Meram then showed some nice handles in close quarters, creating space for the shot, and put Crew SC up 2-0.
Kamara Gets Chippy
A lot of credit goes out to Pipa for setting up this opportunity. He was running away from Kamara and the net, but still had the presence of mind to throw a lobbed through ball towards Kamara as soon as he got to the ball. Given the difficulty of a chip shot, many attackers would have opted to deke out the goalie and shoot the ball from inside the box, but Kamara saw the opportunity for the chip and seized it.
Chest, Foot, Goal
John McCarthy’s clearance took a wicked bounce back towards the box, right to a sprinting Finlay. Philadelphia was caught on its heels and out of position, allowing Kamara to roam free. Finlay’s cross didn’t lead him towards goal, but Kamara stayed composed, settled the ball and fired away.
This ball went from Crew SC's half to the back of the net in just two passes. Both of those passes could not have been more on target. Finlay was Johnny-on-the-spot after Steven Vitória whiffed on the clearance, freezing McCarthy and giving Finlay enough room to slot it home.
Meram Will Not Be Denied
Meram looks like a freight train cutting through Philadelphia’s back line. He outmuscles two Philadelphia defenders and fires off a cannon that proved to be too hot for McCarthy to handle. Sometimes, there is just no denying an effort like that.
Finlay Hits the Turbo Button
Over a span of 10 seconds and two passes, the ball made its way from the foot of Steve Clark to the back of Philadelphia’s net. Kamara put forth a great effort winning the 50-50 ball and corralling it prior to finding Finlay along the wing. As soon as Finlay recognized Kamara’s control of the ball, he turned on the afterburners and blew by Fabinho with ease to set up the score.
Kamara Heads It Home
Kamara did well to create space and momentum for himself, but a lot of credit is due to Francis and Meram for keeping the chance alive. That opportunity was one poor touch and clearance away from dissapating, but Francis and Meram were patient and methodical in their ball-handling before Francis sent in the all-important cross.
Pipa Goes for a Stroll
Seattle’s defense was so prepared for another cross that it didn’t anticipate Pipa rolling into the box. He had plenty of space to wind up and find a spot amongst all of the traffic in front of net. Not to mention he had all of Seattle’s defenders chasing.
Kamara’s Finesse Touch
This was an impressive display of discipline from Kamara. He recognized Seattle’s defense was swarming him and the immediacy of the situation, so he calmly put it away as soon as the ball arrived. Hector Jimenez also showed some hustle in saving the ball that he eventually sent Kamara’s way.
Off the Side of His Foot
Meram played the role of facilitator on this attack. He made two slick moves to evade defenders and in the process, drew a lot of attention, thus deflecting attention away from Finlay and Kamara. When Finlay got the ball, it was essentially two on zero and an easy play to execute from there.
Follow the Bouncing Ball
Kamara sure does have a tendency to be at the right place at the right time, huh? When Kevan George got his head on the ball, Chicago’s defense became focused on him, instead of continuing to mark their respective Crew SC players. Kamara slipped away from Jeff Larentowicz and had a wide open look at goal by the time the ball arrived.
Pipa’s Stoppage-time Tally
With George and Kamara pressing so far forward, Pipa found his way into the small pocket of space behind them and took advantage of a loose ball. He even had the presence of mind to take a touch, settle the ball down and finish it with some power.
Finlay Sprints, Pipa Finishes
As we’ve seen before, Finlay can sprint with the best of them, and he did exactly that here. Well, he also got a bit of help with Leonardo failing to clear the ball, but Finlay still made a great decision with keeping the ball low on the cross and putting it exactly where Pipa was going to be.
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.