By Brad Friedman
Within a 13-minute window, Crew SC went from clinging onto a one-goal lead to sending MAPFRE Stadium into a state of euphoria.
Three goals within that span broke open Sunday’s match, propelling Columbus Crew SC to a 5-0 win over D.C United. The lopsided victory secured Columbus the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference and a first-round bye in the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs.
The numbers behind the Black & Gold’s regular season finale tell a story all their own, so let’s take a closer look at the box score.
Ethan Finlay’s 11th goal of the season came fairly easily after a Jack McInerney pass left the midfielder in front of a wide open goal in the 66th minute. Just one minute later, with the stadium still buzzing from his first score, Finlay rocketed home a shot to the upper 90, securing a brace and sending supporters into hysterics.
Steve Clark produced some jaw-dropping saves, all of which came during the first half. His most notable came in the 35th minute when a close-quarters, ricocheted shot nearly curled its way into the upper 90. Clark took four steps back and just got enough of it to clear it over the crossbar.
Crew SC controlled the pace of the match and created numerous opportunities as a result. Columbus maintained 60.9% possession, held a 580-375 advantage in passes, and sent in a whopping 22 crosses to D.C. United’s 10. The visiting side expended much of its energy holding back Crew SC, as opposed to generating its own chances, as is evidenced by its 20 clearances to Columbus’ nine.
Columbus’ offensive outburst is even more impressive when factoring in the absence of Kei Kamara and Federico Higuaín, both of whom missed Sunday’s match because of yellow card accumulation. The two have combined for 47 goals and assists with Kamara accounting for 38.6% of the club’s total goal output (22 of 57). A testament to the team's depth, nine different players recorded a goal or assist to help pick up the slack.