2-1. It’s become an all too familiar scoreline between Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. For the third time in a row, Columbus dropped a match to Portland by that result. But even though the Black & Gold came up short in their season opener, there were many bright spots in their performance at Providence Park on Sunday. Here are a few stats that stand out.
The number of saves Steve Clark made on the night. The Crew SC goalkeeper delivered an outstanding performance denying the Timbers on several occasions. Two of his best: In the 42nd minute, Clark pushed a powerful shot by Dairon Asprilla over the crossbar; he came up with another terrific save in the 69th when he tipped away Lucas Melano’s deflected shot.
There was no question about who deserved Crew SC’s Barbasol Man of the Match honors on Sunday evening. Federico Higuain delivered a top-notch performance, and not just because of his incredible goal. The midfielder was Crew SC’s most dangerous player leading his team in shots with seven. It was the fourth time in the Designated Player's career that he reached at least seven shots in a match, and the first time since June 22, 2013. With one of these shots Pipa nearly found the equalizer for a second time, but his volley in the 84th hit the post.
Pipa’s spectacular bicycle-kick in the 68th minute was his 36th goal for the Black & Gold. That total breaks a tie with Eddie Gaven to move the Argentine into fifth place all-time in Crew SC’s goal-scoring history. The stunner was Higuain's third career goal at Providence Park. He also scored in his last appearance in Portland in 2014 with a beautiful chip. Pipa and Providence Park, there’s something there.
It’s just the beginning of the MLS season, but Crew SC’s passing machine is already running in high gear. The Black & Gold completed 466 passes at an accuracy of 84%. That is in comparison to Portland’s 299 total passes at 76% accuracy. Given those stats, it’s no surprise Columbus dominated possession at Providence Park with 61.1%.