A full week vacation from MLS play was just what Crew SC needed.
The Black & Gold were swift and aggressive, and created plenty of opportunities vs. the New England Revolution. That, combined with Kei Kamara’s fourth brace of the season, amounted to Crew SC coming away with a 2-1 victory.
Despite trailing not even a minute into the match, Crew SC went on to create an advantage in most stat categories on Wednesday night. Lets take a look at those stats and analyze how they played a factor in the Black & Gold's fifth home win of the season.
Saturday’s match got off to a ferocious start after the two teams combined for two goals within the first four minutes of play. Lee Nguyen registered New England’s first shot 35 seconds into the match, and it bounced under Steve Clark's outstretched arm into the back of the net. Just three minutes later, Kei Kamara took advantage of a rebound off the crossbar, lunged at the loose ball and headed it in to tie the match at one apiece.
Kamara tacked on another goal in the 50th minute, securing his fourth brace of the season. That brings Kamara’s League-leading goal total to 12, four ahead of the rest of the pack, and sets his new personal MLS-career high with over half of the season still left to play. Ethan Finlay recorded the primary assist on Kamara’s second goal, bringing his League-leading assist total up to nine, one ahead of second-place Benny Feilhaber.
The cumulative number of fouls registered by both teams. Justin Meram foreshadowed this level of physicality, saying there's no love lost between the two teams. A total of seven yellow cards were issued and players were hitting the ground frequently. Amazingly, the number doesn’t live up to the 30 fouls earned between the two sides when they last met.
Though the Revolution produced several legitimate scoring opportunities after Nguyen’s early goal, they spent a lot of time on their heels. Their 34 clearances indicate Crew SC’s dominance in the attacking third and the frequency of chances they accumulated.
Speaking of Crew SC's compelling offense, they ripped off 42 crosses, while only conceding 14. This stat is made even more remarkable considering Crew SC possessed the ball 56.2% of the time; an advantage, yes, but not complete dominance. As we alluded to from the start, Crew SC played quickly, and it didn’t take long for each of its opportunities to come to fruition.
Emanuel Pogatetz heads the ball past Phildelphia Union's Andrew Wenger in Crew SC's 3-0 loss at PPL Park.
Philadelphia’s May schedule featured five matches against four of the League’s premier teams. Playing better teams can result in a higher level of play, regardless of the outcome, and that effort carried into Wednesday night’s match against Columbus Crew SC (4-5-4.)
Goals from Vincent Noguiera and Sebastien Le Toux came only six minutes apart from one another early in the second half. That put Philadelphia (4-8-3) up 3-0, where it would remain for the duration of the match.
Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said Philadelphia's performance was the best play he's seen from them.
"Well, I think the starting point is the Philadelphia Union played an outstanding game," said Berhalter. "When you look at how effective they were and how they were winning challenges and moving the ball, and the competitive desire to win the game, it was outstanding. I think that’s the best I have seen Philly play."
On paper, the clubs did not differ drastically. In stats such as possession, shots, crosses, tackles won, and clearances, the two sides were nearly identical. Columbus and Philadelphia generated only seven on-target shots cumulatively, not including a first half Ethan Finlay shot that missed the post by inches. But Philadelphia’s flurry within the middle 30 minutes of the match created the right opportunities and the Union executed well.
As for Crew SC, a slightly altered starting line-up, highlighted by the absence of captain Michael Parkhurst, proved to be a tough obstacle to overcome, especially with the club playing another road match just four days prior. Wednesday’s match marked the fourth match in 13 days, including last week’s international friendly against Valencia CF, making it difficult to find time for a new unit to mesh.
Chad Barson accepted the challenges, made several strong, defensive tackles throughout the match, and reflected on his team's performance afterward.
"Definitely not the result we wanted," said Barson. "Three games in a short amount of time all against eastern conference teams, so obviously very important games for us and it’s an opportunity, if you get results, to move up in the standings. I think overall it wasn’t terrible, but just a few plays that kind of dug us a hole and it was too difficult to dig ourselves out of."
Teammate Aaron Schoenfeld, made his first start of the season, playing up top and registering a shot on goal tonight. Defender Sergio Campbell also got his first taste of MLS action, starting in the place of the aforementioned Parkhurst. Schoenfeld agreed with Barson on their team's play.
"I think it just wasn’t our day today. We threw away a couple of chances early, so if we take one of those, it changes the game up," said Schoenfeld. "Once they score that goal, they have some confidence behind them and start moving the ball a lot better. On any given day in this league, any team can win, which is the good thing about this league – there’s very little disparity between the teams. So if you come out flat, you’re going to get punished."
Barson is also grateful for the opportunity to play five matches in 16 days.
"That’s the good thing about having so many games in a short amount of time," said Barson. "You forget the previous result and move onto the next one and make sure that you recover physically and mentally and put everything towards the next game."
One of the bright spots for the Black & Gold tonight was Mohammed Saeid establishing himself as the League’s second-most accurate passer with a passing percentage of 89.5 percent. The ranking includes only players who have registered at least 200 passes.
Another quick turnaround lies ahead for Crew SC, but the scene will change to familiar surroundings when the Black & Gold welcome the Montreal Impact to MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.