One of the things that made 2015 so memorable is that Crew SC fans got to witness some truly outstanding individual campaigns. For example, the Black & Gold had three participants in the MLS All-Star Game: Kei Kamara, Ethan Finlay, and Waylon Francis. It was the first time Crew SC had three All-Stars in a single season since 2008, and the first time they had three active All-Stars on the game day roster since 2004, when the format was East vs. West and not one unified MLS All-Star team vs. an international opponent.
Kamara and Finlay would go on to be named to the MLS Best XI at the end of the season. Francis, whose pinpoint crossing led to an MLS-best seven assists by a defender, may have joined them if outside backs were part of the process. (The Best XI only used three backs and all of them were center backs.)
It’s almost impossible to overstate how magical the seasons of Kamara and Finlay were. Their continued presence on the scoresheet was almost unrivaled in Black & Gold history. Kamara finished with 22 goals and 8 assists, whereas Finlay finished with a Donovanesque 12 goals and 13 assists. Here are the top four seasons of goals + assists in Crew SC history:
- Stern John, 31 in 1998. (26+5)
- Kei Kamara, 30 in 2015. (22+8)
- Guillermo Barros Schelotto, 26 in 2008. (7+19)
- Ethan Finlay, 25 in 2015. (12+13)
Kamara and Finlay grabbed spots two and four, each nestled in just one behind two of the most legendary individual seasons in Crew SC history. And they did it in the same year. Incredible.
Kamara became just the second Crew SC player to crack the 20-goal barrier, with his 22 trailing only John’s 26 in 1998. He also added four more in the playoffs, bringing his regular-season plus playoffs total to 26, which trailed only John’s 29 in 1998.
Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco edged Kamara for both the Golden Boot and MVP Awards due to his unprecedented 22-goal, 15-assist season, plus finally dragging Toronto into the playoffs for the first time in club history by virtue of MLS granting an extra playoff spot this year. Those are all amazing accomplishments. But while TFC’s playoff dreams ended after less than 30 minutes against Montreal, Kamara was still doing work, scoring the series-winning goal against Montreal, the eventual series winner against New York, and then scoring (in vain) the goal that would give Crew SC life after a disastrous opening seven minutes in MLS Cup.
I get why Giovinco won the MVP Award and I’m not even complaining about it because he truly was the player of the year in MLS, but one would be hard-pressed to find any MLS player who meant more to a championship contender than Kei Kamara did to Columbus in 2015.
BONUS MOMENT: CREW SC LEGENDS
Speaking of Stern John, he was one of the legends that Crew SC brought back for a special halftime celebration as the club unveiled the Top 20 Moments in Black & Gold, which looked back on 20 years of Crew SC history. He even got to meet Kamara as Kei chased his single-season goal scoring record. (Kamara obliged by scoring a goal that night.)
Brian McBride, Mike Clark, Brad Friedel, Alejandro Moreno, Frankie Hejduk, Gino Padula, Duncan Oughton, Brian Dunseth, and Dante Washington were among the other alumni on hand for a very special evening, not to mention a surprise video appearance by Guillermo Barros Schelotto.
It was such a magical weekend that I wrote a 14-chapter recap of the whole thing. Overkill? Sure. But it was so much fun that I wanted to preserve all of it. You can read all about it here.
Also, here's a video of the entire halftime ceremony honoring the legends: