With Justin Meram and Federico Higuain each recording their first MLS Cup Playoff goals in the first leg against New England, they join a club of 24 members of the Black & Gold to score in the postseason. In total, the Crew has scored 51 all-time goals in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Brian McBride paces the way with nine goals, closely followed by Stern John’s eight tallies. Other current active MLS players to have scored for the Crew in the postseason include Chad Marshall, Robbie Rogers, Brad Evans and Steven Lenhart.
In order to advance to the Eastern Conference Championship without invoking the away goals tiebreaker, the Crew needs to win by three or more goals, or win by two goals while scoring at least five times. All-time, the Crew has achieved this type of result on the road 11 times in club regular-season history, including this season’s 3-0 win at D.C. United (March 8). To send the match to extra time, the Black & Gold need exactly a 4-2 road win: something they have done three times in club regular-season history.
Steve Clark became the eighth goalkeeper to appear in a postseason match for the Black & Gold in making his MLS Cup Playoffs debut in the first leg against New England. Clark joins the following group: Brad Friedel, Juergen Sommer, Mark Dougherty, Tom Presthus, Jon Busch, Andy Gruenebaum and William Hesmer. Clark made five saves against the Revolution, continuing the trend that each goalkeeper to ever appear in a postseason game for the Crew has, at one point, notched a five-save performance for the Black & Gold in the Playoffs.
CREW IN THE POSTSEASON
The Crew is appearing in its first MLS Cup Playoff series since 2011 ... last Saturday, the Black & Gold hosted their first home postseason match since 2010 ... all-time, the Crew is 15-17-4 in the postseason, with a record of 9-6-1 at home and 5-11-3 away from Columbus.
AWAY GOALS COUNT ...
For the first time in League history, MLS will use the away goals rule as the first tiebreaker in deciding two-legged aggregate series ... the competition format is at follows: the four Conference Semifinals will be decided by two-game aggregate series, with the lower seed hosting the first leg and the higher seed hosting the second leg ... if the aggregate score is tied after 180 minutes of play, the away goals rule will apply so as to be consistent with CONCACAF and FIFA practice ... if the series remains tied, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety, followed by penalty kicks, if necessary ... the away goals tiebreaker will not apply to overtime in the second leg of any two-legged playoff series.
... SO THREE IS THE TARGET
Due to the away goals rule, the Crew enters Sunday’s match needing the following to advance to the Eastern Conference Championship: a victory by at least three goals, or a two-goal victory in which the Crew scores at least five goals ... a 4-2 win for the Black & Gold would send the series to extra time.
The Crew's Federico Higuaín and Waylon Francis are nominated for FutbolMLS.com's annual Latino del Año award. Playmaker Higuaín finds himself in the star-studded Group B with D.C. United's Fabian Espindola, New York Red Bulls' Luis Robles and the LA Galaxy's Jaime Penedo. A stalwart along the Crew's backline in 2014, Francis is up against the Houston Dynamo's Oscar Boniek Garcia, FC Dallas' Blas Perez and Vancouver Whitecaps FC's Sebastián Fernandez.
Group Stage voting for Latino del Año ends November 6.
The all-time leader in MLS Cup Playoff goals in Columbus Crew history is forward Brian McBride, who bagged nine goals over his Black & Gold career. McBride’s efforts include two separate braces for the Crew, on September 30, 1998 versus the Metrostars and on October 18, 1998 versus D.C. United. Narrowly behind McBride in the club’s postseason goal-scoring ledger is forward Stern John, who scored eight times for the Crew in the MLS Cup Playoffs. John notched a postseason hat trick on November 7, 1999 versus D.C. United, the only individual three-goal postseason effort in Crew club history.
The Crew’s all-time leader in MLS Cup Playoff assists is Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who registered seven helpers over three postseason runs with the Black & Gold. Six of those assists came during the club’s championship season in 2008, an individual club record for most assists in a single postseason. Andy Williams just trails Schelotto, with six assists. Robert Warzycha, Jeff Cunningham and Ansil Elcock all totaled five for the Black & Gold.
Among players on the Black & Gold’s current roster, the club has just 20 all-time MLS Cup Playoff appearances. Michael Parkhurst leads the way with 14 all-time postseason appearances, all previously with New England. Parkhurst and the Revolution advanced to the MLS Cup Final each year from 2005-2007. Hector Jimenez is the only player on the Crew to have won MLS Cup before, having captured the trophy in 2011 and 2012 with the LA Galaxy.
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).