In club history, Columbus Crew SC has played at Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s BC Place just once prior to Wednesday's match. That contest came on March 9, 2013, in what was Columbus’ third match of the year that season. Whitecaps FC took the contest by a 2-1 final with goals from Daigo Kobayashi and Kenny Miller. Jairo Arrieta scored for the Black & Gold. Excluding first-year MLS stadiums Avaya Stadium, the Citrus Bowl and Yankee Stadium, the current League pitch that Crew SC has played on the second-fewest number of times is Portland’s Providence Park (three all-time matches).
Defender Emanuel Pogatetz recorded 17 clearances against the New York Red Bulls on March 28, setting the single-season high for any Black & Gold player in the category. The 17 clearances are also tied for third League-wide for most clearances in any one match by any one player, trailing Colorado’s Axel Sjoberg, who notched 22 against Philadelphia on March 7, and Real Salt Lake’s Jamison Olave, who registered 18 against Portland on that same date. Over the last five seasons, only two other Black & Gold defenders have totaled single-match performances with over 17 clearances: Eric Gehrig and Chad Marshall.
Crew SC has played just three regular-season matches this year, tied with Montreal and the New York Red Bulls for fewest in the League. The last time that Columbus’ fourth regular-season match came on April 8 or later was in 2011, when the Black & Gold played their fourth match on April 9 at Chivas USA.
A pair of Crew SC players have returned to the team following international duty and are available for selection for the match against Vancouver ... midfielder Justin Meram earned two caps for the Iraq National Team in two separate friendlies against DR Congo in Dubai ... Meram started both matches, which Iraq won 2-1 (March 28) and 1-0 (March 31) ... the former University of Michigan midfielder now has 13 caps for Iraq ... meanwhile, defender Waylon Francis earned his second cap for Costa Rica with a start against Paraguay (March 26) in a 0-0 draw.
Following a red card against the New York Red Bulls on March 28, Federico Higuain is set to be unavailable for the match against Vancouver as a result of the following suspension ... Higuain is slated to be available for selection in Crew SC’s next match, on April 11 at New England.
Crew SC is set to embark on a two-match, cross-continent road trip that will see the club play at Vancouver on Wednesday, April 8 and at New England on Saturday, April 11 ... over the course of the week, the Black & Gold are slated to travel 5,560 air miles from start to finish.
PASSING MACHINE: AS A TEAM ...
Crew SC ranks second in passing accuracy, trailing only Orlando City SC ... the Black & Gold also rank in the top five in passing accuracy in their own half (fourth), passing accuracy in the opponent’s half (third) and passing accuracy in the final third (fourth).
... AND ON THE INDIVIDUAL LEVEL
Among all MLS players that have attempted at least 80 passes, Waylon Francis (95.1%), Mohammed Saeid (90.3%) and Wil Trapp (89.9%) are the top three passers in the League on an accuracy basis.
KEEPING THE BALL
After finishing the 2014 campaign fourth in total possession time, Crew SC has continued to play strong possession soccer this season ... the Black & Gold’s mark of 56.3% possession leads MLS.
GOING FOR GOAL
The match against Vancouver is set to pit the top two shooting clubs in Major League Soccer against each other ... the Black & Gold rank first in the League in shots per game, with Vancouver ranking second.
Columbus Crew SC’s Justin Meram, Kei Kamara and Tony Tchani have each found the back of the net once this season ... among all MLS players, Meram, Kamara and Tchani rank first, second and fourth respectively in total shots per match ... Vancouver’s Kekuta Manneh, Octavio Rivero and Pedro Morales are all in the top 11.
On a per-match basis, no club has been more effective at crossing the ball than Crew SC this season ... the Black & Gold lead MLS in crosses from open play per game, as well as total number of successful crosses from open play and crossing accuracy.
INTO THE BOX
Among players recording at least 10 crosses from open play, Crew SC rightback Hernan Grana ranks first in crosses from open play per match ... the Argentine is also in the top three in total crosses, successful crosses and crossing accuracy.
As part of the club’s Give Forward initiative, Columbus Crew SC players teamed up with members of the MAPFRE Insurance staff to serve lunch at the Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio on Monday, March 30.
Crew SC’s Michael Parkhurst, Steve Clark, Ethan Finlay, Mohammed Saeid and Emanuel Pogatetz met with families, signed autographs and took photos during lunch. They also took a tour of the facility – the largest Ronald McDonald House in the world – including the Columbus Crew SC Exercise Room, which was renovated in 2013.
Crew SC’s Give Forward initiative is presented by MAPFRE Insurance. Monday’s event was made possible thanks to donations from Crew SC partners at MAPFRE, Papa John’s, Kroger and Pepsi.
Crew SC and the New York Red Bulls have met 60 times in regular-season play, but have also faced-off twice in the MLS Cup Playoffs. The Black & Gold met the then- MetroStars in the 1998 Eastern Conference Semifinals, which Crew SC took two matches to zero. Additionally, the sides also met in Los Angeles in MLS Cup 2008, where a 3-1 victory gave the Black & Gold their first MLS Cup championship.
Midfielder Wil Trapp completed 87 passes against Toronto FC in Crew SC’s Opening Match, setting an individual high for any MLS player this season for most passes completed in a single match. Trapp’s 87-pass effort featured 17 more passes than the second-best performance this season, Orlando City SC’s Darwin Ceren’s 70-pass match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The Gahanna native’s 98 passes attempted were also a single-game League high, exceeding Ceren’s 82 passes attempted against the Whitecaps.
With their goals against Toronto FC two weekends ago in the Opening Match, Justin Meram and Kei Kamara became the 21st and 22nd players in club history to record a goal during a Black & Gold home opener. The full list, in chronological order of the player’s first goal in a Columbus home opener: Brian McBride, Pete Marino, Mike Lapper, Jeff Cunningham, Stern John, Brian West, Robert Warzycha, Dante Washington, Edson Buddle, Frankie Hejduk, Ante Razov, Sebastian Rozental, Adam Moffat, Alejandro Moreno, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Andy Iro, Milovan Mirosevic, Olman Vargas, Glauber, Bernardo Anor, Meram and Kamara.
Two members of Crew SC are unavailable for selection for this match while representing their respective National Teams ... defender Waylon Francis is with Costa Rica for friendlies versus Paraguay and and at Panama ... midfielder Justin Meram is with Iraq for a pair of friendlies against DR Congo, with both being held in Dubai ... additionally, midfielder Wil Trapp is set to depart Columbus following this match to join the United States’ Under-23 side for a friendly at Denmark.
WELCOME BACK, KEI KAMARA
In the win over Toronto FC, Kei Kamara scored his first goal for Crew SC since June 30, 2007 in a 1-0 win over the New York Red Bulls ... the goal was Kamara’s 53rd all-time MLS tally and his sixth in a Columbus shirt ... it was his first in MLS overall since he scored a pair of goals for Sporting Kansas City on August 10, 2013 against the Revolution.
PASSING MACHINE: AS A TEAM ...
After the third weekend of regular-season MLS play, Columbus Crew SC leads the League in successful passes per match (427.5) ... Crew SC also leads MLS in total passing accuracy (84.07%) as well as passing accuracy in its own half (92.84%), passing accuracy in the opponent’ss half (76.8%) and passing accuracy in the opponent’s final third (70.78%) ... the Black & Gold have attempted 508.5 passes per match, which also leads MLS, edging out Orlando City SC’s 496.33 passes attempted per contest.
... AND ON THE INDIVIDUAL LEVEL
Among players that have attempted at least 50 passes in the current Major League Soccer season, Waylon Francis (1st, 95.12%), Mohammed Saeid (3rd, 93.22%) and Wil Trapp (8th, 89.93%) all rank in the top ten in passing accuracy ... Francis and Saeid are first and second in the League in passing accuracy in the opponent’s half, while the Costa Rican leads MLS in passing accuracy in the final third ... Trapp, meanwhile, is tops in MLS in passes completed per match (67).