April 18, 2015
This was just one of those ideal nights at the park. If you could draw up a spectacularly satisfying spring evening at MAPFRE Stadium, it would involve perfect weather, a loud crowd, and a 3-0 win featuring three fantastic goals. It all fell into place on April 18, 2015, as Crew SC thumped Orlando City.
The most memorable of the goals was Federico Higuain’s leg-sweep heel-flick goal in the 32nd minute. After a wayward non-clearance into the channel by the Orlando defense, Ethan Finlay tracked down the loose ball and one-timed a low cross toward Higuain’s near-post run. Pipa then let the ball roll through his own legs before using a flick of his heel to redirect the ball into the side netting at the far post.
Justin Meram had the best reaction to Higuain’s goal.
“I’m pretty jealous, to be honest,” Meram said. “I want to do that. I just want to be waiting for the ball to come to me in that spot to see if I can do it. That was pretty special. It’s almost like you don’t even get surprised anymore. It’s just like, ‘Oh, that’s Pipa doing magical (stuff) again.’ Excuse my language, but there’s no other way to describe it. It’s just like, ‘That’s Pipa. Let’s go celebrate. And then we can watch the highlights over and over again later tonight.’”
BONUS MOMENT: ACADEMY OVERHAUL
October 7, 2015
In the fall, Crew SC announced it was overhauling the academy system in order to better align it with the first team. The previous academy setup had its successes, producing several first team players, including star midfielder Wil Trapp, but going forward, the academy teams will now play the exact style of play as the first team, allowing young players to be groomed for specific roles within the overall system.
The academy restructuring also saw the hiring of several top-level coaches to put the plan into action. Michael Milazzo was brought in as Crew SC Academy Director.
“I am very excited to join Columbus Crew SC,” Milazzo said at the time. “The first team has become known across the country for a very specific and proactive style of play and earned a reputation as a player-first club. I value the opportunity to work with Gregg and the academy staff to extend the soccer philosophy of the club to our academy program.”