Seattle Sounders FC
For the first time in MAPFRE Stadium history, Columbus Crew SC beat Seattle Sounders FC. Crew SC's aggressive and persistent play in the attacking half revealed holes in Seattle’s defense and the Black & Gold took advantage. Tonight’s statistics tell a healthy part of how Columbus defeated Seattle. Here are the numbers to note.
Kei Kamara and Clint Dempsey each registered a pair of goals, each man picking up one in each half. Kamara’s goals (10’, 58’) came via a header and one-touch shot, while Dempsey (24’, 75’) scored with a powerful strike from outside the box and off a rebound within several yards of goal. Kamara and Dempsey are now co-leaders for most goals in MLS.
With Seattle’s second half push, Crew SC’s defense was tested, but did not break. The Black & Gold registered 22 clearances to maitain their narrow lead until the final whistle.
The number of shots Crew SC ripped off tonight, a season-high for the club. Crew SC registered 14 of those shots in the first half alone while holding Seattle to only six during the first 45 minutes. Despite Seattle’s late surge, which yielded Clint Dempsey’s second goal of the night, the Sounders ripped off only five more shots during the final 45 minutes of play.
Crew SC’s total possession, despite holding a hefty advantage in shots. The Black & Gold's opportunities were frequent, but quick pace can equate to less time with the ball. Columbus made quick work with its counter-attacks all evening and all of its goals were converted only a handful of seconds after the opportunities arose.
ONLY REGULAR SEASON MEETING IN 2015
Columbus Crew SC plays its ninth Major League Soccer regular-season match in 2015 and its fifth at MAPFRE Stadium by hosting Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday, May 9. This is the only match between Columbus and Seattle this year. Historically, the Black & Gold are 2-4-3 against Sounders FC all-time, and are looking for their first win over Sounders FC at home, where the series is 0-3-1 all-time in favor of the Rave Green.
FIRST MEETING SINCE MERAM STRIKE
The match pits the Black & Gold against the Rave Green for the first time since last season’s meeting on March 29, a match that culminated with Justin Meram’s game-winning, stoppage time strike at CenturyLink Field. The goal was Meram’s first of 2014. The midfielder entered the match in the 89th minute and found the back of the net in the 94th, giving Crew SC the 2-1 win. The goal sparked a breakout eight-tally, four-assist season for Meram, who has scored 11 total MLS regular-season goals over the past two seasons.
MARSHALL'S FIRST RETURN TO COLUMBUS
The match is also Seattle’s first trip to Columbus since acquiring former Black & Gold defender Chad Marshall. A member of the 2008 MLS Cup championship squad, Marshall made 253 regular-season appearances for Columbus from 2004-13. Former Black & Gold player Brad Evans and coach Sigi Schmid are also making returns to Columbus.
HOME SWEET HOME
At MAPFRE Stadium this season, Crew SC has a record of 3-1-0 with 10 goals scored and just three conceded. Crew SC’s home goal differential of plus seven is the best such mark in Major League Soccer. Columbus is the only club in the League to have reached the 10-goal mark at home. Over its past two home matches, Crew SC has amassed seven tallies, more than or equal to the total season home goal output of 12 other MLS clubs.
BACK-TO-BACK THREE-GOAL WINS AT HOME
In their last homestand, the Black & Gold defeated Orlando City SC by a 3-0 scoreline on April 18 ahead of a 4-1 win over Philadelphia on April 25. The stretch marked the third time in club history that Columbus won back-to-back matches by three or more goals. The club achieved the feat in 1999 on July 24 (4-1 over Dallas) and August 1 (4-0 over Miami), and in 2014 on August 16 (4-1 over LA) and August 23 (3-0 over Houston).
TOP THREE PASSING PERFORMANCES
In their last match at MAPFRE Stadium, against the Philadelphia Union, the Black & Gold passed to a team accuracy rate of 87.9%. That number is the second-highest passing accuracy mark achieved by any MLS club in any match this season. The Black & Gold’s passing performance against Orlando City SC (April 18) is currently the highest mark at 88.1%. Crew SC also holds the third-highest mark, with 87.1% passing against Toronto FC (March 14).
KAMARA AMONG LEAGUE LEADERS IN GOALS ...
Crew SC forward Kei Kamara’s five goals currently tie him for second in MLS in goal scoring. Kamara is among a group of four players at five goals, joined by Seattle Sounders FC’s Clint Dempsey as well as Houston’s Giles Barnes and Vancouver’s Octavio Rivero. Sounders FC forward Obafemi Martins is leading MLS in goal-scoring, with six tallies.
... AS WELL AS SHOTS
Following his three shots attempted against D.C. United, Crew SC’s Kei Kamara ranks second in MLS in shots/match (4.3) and in total shots (34).
POSSESSION, PASSING, CHANCES
Crew SC has continued its strong passing and possession play in 2015. According to the League’s official statistician, Opta, Crew SC leads the League in chances created per match (12.1) and big chances created per match (1.4). The Black & Gold also rank second overall in MLS in passing accuracy (81.9%) and second overall in possession (54.2%).
FRANCIS, SAEID LEADING LEAGUE IN PASSING
Among the League’s most accurate passers (min. 100 passes attempted), the top two are members of the Black & Gold. Defender Waylon Francis (93.8%) and midfielder Mohammed Saeid (90.6%) both rank atop the League in passing accuracy. Seattle’s Osvaldo Alonso is also among the League’s most accurate passers.
Chad Marshall won't be the only one seeing old friends as oppostion on Saturday when the Crew takes on Seattle Sounders FC. Defender Tyson Wahl was selected by the Sounders in the 2008 MLS Expansion Draft and made 39 appearances in three seasons for the club before being picked up by the Montreal Impact in the 2011 MLS Expansion Draft.
Saturday's match will mark the first time Wahl has returned to CenturyLink Field despite having played for three clubs since his departure in 2011.
"It's definitely one you circle on the schedule," Wahl said of his return. "I have fond memories of being here. It's definitely been a while. Last year, we didn't travel out here. My previous team's just didn't go. It's exciting. It's nice to be around the city and I'm definitely excited to step out on the stadium field again."
Wahl helped Sounders FC to three-straight Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups during his time in the Emerald City.
Chad Marshall owns nearly all of the Crew's club records win it comes to longevity, having played in more minutes (22,220), matches (253) and seasons (10) than anyone else in the team's 19-year history. For the first time on Saturday, the two-time MLS Defender of the Year will face his former club since being traded to Seattle Sounders FC in December.
"I think a change was needed," Marshall told SoundersFC.com. "I enjoyed my time in Columbus very much. Ten years is a long time. I feel like I grew up there, coming [into MLS] as a teenager. "
Though it will surely be strange for Marshall to see so many of his former teammates as opposition this weekend, the centerback admits it will be "just another soccer game."
"It'll probably be a little different to see the black and yellow on the other side, but there are a lot of players in this League who've played against old teams and teammates." he said. "Once the whistle blows, it's just another soccer game."
The Crew kicks off against the Sounders at 10:00 p.m. ET on Saturday night (Time Warner Cable SportsChannel / 95.5 The Game / 103.1 La Mega).
Though MLS Cup has yet to be played for, the silly season of trade rumors has already begun. According to a report from Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl on Wednesday, Seattle Sounders FC is shopping U.S. Men's National Team forward Eddie Johnson. Since returning to MLS following a three-year stint in Europe, the 29-year-old Johnson scored 14 goals in 2012 and nine in 2013 and has seen a resurgence in his international career under Jürgen Klinsmann.
However, Johnson has shown he's not pleased with his salary situation, as evidenced by his "pay me" celebration following his game-winning goal against the Crew on August 31 in Columbus.
Would Johnson be a good fit for the Black & Gold? Like Dominic Oduro, Johnson can play either up top or on the wing to stretch defenses with his speed. Johnson will likely require a high price tag upon departing Seattle, probably more than the Crew would be willing to spend if new Sporting Director Gregg Berhalter hopes to retain Oduro, who is coming off a career year with the Black & Gold after scoring 13 goals.
Johnson scored at Crew Stadium twice in 2013, both with the Sounders and the U.S. National Team, and the charismatic forward has been complimentary of Columbus in the past.
What do you think, Crew fans? Despite the salary cap hurdles. do you want to see Johnson in Black & Gold next season? Comment below.