New England Revolution
Columbus Crew SC midfielder Ethan Finlay has made 27 regular-season appearances for the club since May 17, 2014 at Portland. Over that span, Finlay has recorded at least one goal or assist in 17 of the 27 matches (63%). The former Creighton Bluejay has 11 goals and nine assists over his MLS career, with all coming since that match at Providence Park.
Goalkeeper Steve Clark made six saves in the contest against Whitecaps FC, tying his all-time MLS career-best. Clark now has five separate six-save performances in Major League Soccer regular-season play, with the last coming on October 26, 2014 against Philadelphia prior to Wednesday. Since entering MLS ahead of last season, Clark is tied for third in the League in total saves, with 126.
On three separate occasions, Columbus Crew SC players have recorded an individual match with at least six attempted shots. Justin Meram has achieved the feat once (March 14 vs. Toronto FC, seven shots) and Kei Kamara has done it twice (March 7 at Houston, six shots; April 8 at Vancouver, six shots). There have been just 14 League-wide matches of this nature in 2014, and only Vancouver has more individual six-or-more shot performances (four) than the Black & Gold.
RETURN TO GILLETTE STADIUM
Columbus Crew SC and the New England Revolution are set to renew their rivalry with the first regular-season meeting between the sides in 2015 and the first match-up of the two clubs since the 2014 Eastern Conference Semifinals. In all-time regular season play, the Black & Gold are 31-21-11 against New England, including a mark of 14-13-5 in Foxborough. Crew SC took the 2014 regular-season series between the clubs with a 2-1-0 record. Additionally, the clubs have met in the postseason three times (2002, 2004, 2014).
LAST REGULAR SEASON MEETING
On October 4, 2014, Crew SC and the Revolution met in what would be an MLS Cup Playoffs preview at Gillette Stadium. Ethan Finlay notched his ninth goal of the season, but New England won the contest by a 2-1 final following goals from Lee Nguyen and Jermaine Jones.
HIGUAIN AVAILABLE FOR SELECTION
Following a red-card suspension served on Wednesday at Vancouver, Federico Higuain is set to be available for selection in the match. The Designated Player is Columbus’ leader in both goals and assists since he joined the club on July 27, 2012.
KAMARA RECORDS A BRACE ...
Forward Kei Kamara recorded a two-goal performance, helping Crew SC to a draw on Wednesday at Vancouver. The brace was the Sierra Leone native’s seventh all-time in Major League Soccer and his first since August 10, 2013 against New England, when he accomplished the feat as a member of Sporting Kansas City. The two-goal performance was also Kamara’s first in a Columbus shirt. Kamara now has 55 career MLS tallies.
... THE CLUB’S FIRST SINCE SCHOENFELD’S
The last two-goal match by a member of Crew SC prior to Kamara’s effort at Vancouver on Wednesday was by Aaron Schoenfeld, who notched a brace on October 19, 2014 at Red Bull Arena against New York.
Midfielder Ethan Finlay notched his second assist of the 2015 campaign on Kamara’s opening goal in Vancouver. Finlay now leads the club in the category. The helper was the ninth of his Major League Soccer career. Overall, it also marked the 20th goal that Finlay has been involved in in MLS (goals + assists), with all 20 coming since May 17, 2014 at Portland.
KAMARA AMONG LEAGUE LEADERS
Crew SC forward Kei Kamara’s brace against Whitecaps FC gave him three goals on the season. He is now one of seven players tied for second in the League in the category. Among players with more than one match played, Kamara is tied for fourth in MLS in goals/game (0.75).
GOING FOR GOAL
Following a 15-shot total against Vancouver on Wednesday, Crew SC still ranks first in Major League Soccer in most attempted shots per match (17.3). This weekend’s opponent, New England, has recorded 11.4 shots per match.
Following performances of six and two shots attempted against Vancouver, respectively, Crew SC’s Kei Kamara and Justin Meram continue to both rank in the League’s top three in shots attempted per match. Kamara (5.3) leads MLS in the statistic, and Meram (4.5) ranks third. Kamara ranks second in MLS in total amount of shots (21), trailing only Vancouver’s Octavio Rivero (23).
Over the Crew’s last six home matches, the club is 6-0-0 with an aggregate score differ- ence of 15-2 ... the stretch began with the club’s 4-1 win over the LA Galaxy on August 16 and has continued through the regular-season finale against the Philadelphia Union on October 26 ... all-told, the Black & Gold were 9-4-4 at home in the regular season.
FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE
The Crew and the Revolution are arguably the League’s two hottest sides entering the 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs ... over the Black & Gold’s last 15 matches, the team is 10-3-2 ... New England comes to Crew Stadium having gone 9-1-1 over its last 11 encounters.
Steve Clark was one of five MLS players to appear in every minute for his club this season, joining David Ousted (VAN), Jon Busch (SJ), Luis Robles (NY) and Stefan Frei (SEA).
CREW WITH SUCCESS AGAINST NEW ENGLAND ...
Saturday’s meeting will be the 63rd regular-season clash between the two teams, the Crew’s most-faced opponent during the season since 1996 ... after a pair of wins over New England already this season, the Crew’s 31 wins (31-20-11) against the Revs are the most versus any opponent in Black & Gold history, more than D.C. United (24 wins against), New York (24 wins against) or Sporting KC (21 wins).
... AND A STRONG STRETCH AGAINST THE REVS HAS HELPED
Although the Revs won the regular-season series in 2013 with three victories, the Black & Gold have found success against the Revs over the last eight seasons, capturing the 2014 regular-season series after a pair of wins on July 26 and September 20 ... ... in the last 20 meetings, dating back to 2007, the Crew is 10-6-4 against the Revs ... during that stretch, the Revs won the regular-season series once: last year ... other than that, the Crew has won the regular-season series now five times and the two teams have split results two other times ... from 1996 through 2000, and again from 2002 through 2006, the two conference foes met four times a year.
CRUCIAL ROAD TRIPS FOR CREW
Fresh off of a six-point homestand, the Crew is on the road for three consecutive weekends before closing-out the regular-season in a home clash against the Philadelphia Union on October 26 ... the Crew was victorious in its last trip to New England on July 26 (2-1), fell to New York on July 12 (1-4) and has yet to make a trip to Philadelphia in 2014 ... overall, the Crew is 3-5-6 on the road in 2014 and the team has secured at least a point in three of its last four road clashes overall.
ABOVE THE RED LINE
Entering the week, the Crew remains above the red line with four tilts to go in regular-season action ... currently, the Black & Gold sit in the fourth slot in the Eastern Conference in the push for the MLS Cup Playoffs, two points ahead of fifth-place New York and three points ahead of onlookers Toronto FC ... the Black & Gold are just two points behind second-place New England ... all four remaining contests for the Crew this year are against Eastern Conference opponents as the club plays Philadelphia twice and once at New York after this weekend.
The Crew has beaten the New England Revolution twice this season, but it's now the third and final meeting of the regular season that is proving to be the most meaningful. Winger Ethan Finlay, who scored the game-winning goal the last time the Black & Gold played at Gillette Stadium, maintains that organization will be the key for the Crew on Saturday.
"It's our defensive shape, staying compact," said Finlay. "This is a good team. When you look at that midfield, they want to play soccer and they have some dangerous pieces up top. Our shape has to be very compact and we have to look to find the spaces behind them going forward."
Finlay also stressed that the Crew was ready for the month of October and knows the task at hand.
Hear more from Finlay in the Black & Gold Breakdown, set to be released later today on TheCrew.com.
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images