MLS Regular Season
“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.
Columbus Crew SC collected four points in two home matches in Week 25, triggering surprising movement in the MLS Power Rankings.
After drawing 2-2 with New York City FC in their first-ever meeting on Wednesday, the Black & Gold turned it up a notch four days later. Crew SC demonstrated composure and confidence beating Sporting Kansas City 3-2 in dramatic fashion. After trailing twice, forward Jack McInerney opened his Crew SC account in the 88th minute for the go-ahead goal in his home debut.
Based on the two results, here’s how the Black & Gold fare in this week's Power Rankings:
MLSsoccer.com isn’t totally impressed by Crew SC’s performance last week as it has dropped Columbus a spot from eighth to ninth.
SI.com has given Crew SC the biggest boost, bumping the Black & Gold up to fourth, from last week’s ninth slot. Sports Illustrated applauds the club’s ability to score twice in the final 10 minutes against SKC with MLS leading goal scorer Kei Kamara on the bench.
Bleacher Report has commended Columbus for its strong set piece defending and responsive attack to Sporting KC, nudging them up a spot from ninth to eighth.
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.
Columbus Crew SC will play its first ever match against New York City FC on Wednesday night at MAPFRE Stadium. It will be the second time this season the Black & Gold will face an MLS opponent for the very first time (see Orlando City SC in April).
After a gritty 2-1 win in Colorado, here is where Columbus Crew SC stands in the MLS Power Rankings, according to MLSsoccer.com, Sports Illustrated and Bleacher Report.
MLSsoccer.com has bumped Crew SC up from rank 10 to 8, stressing that the Black & Gold accomplished what few Eastern Conference teams have done - getting a road win in the West.
The folks over at Sports Illustrated are all about Kei Kamara (and we can't blame them). Kamara's brace against Colorado not only secured three points, but put him ahead of Sebastian Giovinco for the MLS goals lead. Thanks to Kamara, SI moved Crew SC up one spot to ninth.
Bleacher Report moved Crew SC up three ranks, from 12th to ninth. Combine a comeback victory with the difficulty of playing in the mountains, and Crew SC earned its way back into the top 10, Bleacher Report says.