August 22, 2015
If you were at MAPFRE Stadium on August 22, 2015, you saw something magical. It was the 619th regular season match in Crew SC history, but only the 8th time the Black & Gold had trailed after 75 minutes and came back to grab the full three points. Trailing Sporting Kansas City 2-1 late, Tony Tchani tied the score in the 80th minute when he roofed a set piece flick-on after making a back post run. Then, in the 88th minute, Jack McInerney put a knife in the Sporks when he tapped the rebound off a Federico Higuain shot into the empty net. It was McInerney’s first goal in Black & Gold after being acquired from Montreal.
“We know what Jack’s about,” Crew SC winger Ethan Finlay said afterward. “This whole league knows what Jack’s about. Tonight he showed exactly what he does. He’s a guy who poaches in front of the net and has a killer instinct for where the ball’s going to be. He had it tonight, fortunately for us.”
BONUS MOMENT: MID-SEASON ADDITIONS
When Crew SC sold defender Giancarlo Gonzalez after his excellent 2014 World Cup performance, Berhalter spoke of how the windfall allowed the club to accelerate its long-term plan. One of the items he mentioned at the time was building out the team’s international scouting network. It’s an investment that bore fruit in 2015.
Midseason acquisitions Cedrick Mabwati, Harrison Afful, and Gaston Sauro came from that scouting process and all had a huge impact as Crew SC reconfigured itself into a team that would become an MLS Cup finalist. Mabwati would provide spark off the bench with his speed and dribbling ability almost making it seem like he was hitting the hyperspace button. Afful would quickly establish himself as one of MLS’ best right backs, bringing Berhalter’s coveted two-way play to the right flank. Sauro, meanwhile, became the imposing physical presence in the center of defense that perfectly complemented brains-over-brawn partner Michael Parkhurst.
Although not brought in from outside of MLS, let’s also not forget the trade for Jack McInerney. As noted above, he scored the game-winner in the Kansas City comeback. He also played a huge role in the 5-0 destruction of D.C. United. And most importantly, although not statistically credited with an assist, it was his shot that forced the save that created the rebound that Ethan Finlay put away to save Crew SC’s season when they were minutes away from playoff elimination against Montreal.
Four midseason additions and Berhalter and his scouting network hit on every single one of them. That’s an impressive accomplishment that should not be overlooked.