A few random throw-ins as we head into the weekend and a Crew SC match in the general Chicago vicinity-ish…
Meram: Mo’ Money, No Problems
Since signing his multi-year contract extension with Columbus Crew SC on March 9, Justin Meram has racked up three goals and an assist in four games. Sometimes when a player gets a bit of a financial windfall and some security, they might take their foot off the gas a little. That certainly has not been the case for Meram. Not only is he filling up the stat sheet, but he’s doing things like using social media to personally meet up with a fan who correctly predicted his two-goal game against Orlando and presenting the clairvoyant Crew SC supporter with his autographed game jersey from the prior afternoon.
This is not a guy letting a new deal go to his head.
“For me, I’m blessed to get the contract, but that doesn’t change who I am,” Meram said after the Orlando game — where he scored both of Columbus' goals in the 2-0 win. “Whether I make a hundred dollars or a million dollars, my goal is to put on the jersey and represent this club. I’ve never been one to have an ego or think of myself as better than the rest. I come from a humble, hard-working family, and I think my parents instilled that in me at a young age. I love playing the game and the new deal is great for me, my family, and my future family, but in the meantime, I have a task, a job, and responsibility. I’m just thankful that I can produce for the coaching staff that believed in me.”
Of course, the other potential pitfall of a new contract is that sometimes a player will press and try too hard to do anything and everything in order to justify the deal. Meram feels no such pressure to be anything but himself, which he credits to the rest of the locker room.
“I think I have great teammates,” he said. “We have great players on the field all around so I can just let it come naturally. Nobody is pressing. We’re just all playing our role and trusting that we can get a win.”
Bonus Crognale Content: Gehrig from 2012
It was fun looking back through my old notes and quotes from 2012 when writing the story on Alex Crognale. As some bonus content, here’s another 2012 quote from former Black & Gold defender Eric Gehrig, who is now an assistant coach who will be on the opposite Bridgeview bench for Saturday’s Crew SC match.
“We have a good group of guys, and we would mess around with him a little bit, and make him feel like a normal one of the guys,” Gehrig said of high school-era Crognale, the week after the teenager helped Columbus secure the 2012 Reserve League championship by playing all 90 minutes in a 2-0 win over D.C. United. “He was quiet, but he'd have a laugh sometimes when we were teasing at him and stuff, but at the end of the day, he went about his business and got the job done, which was the point of him being there. I'm sure he wanted show well. I don't know if his college coach was there, but I know he wanted to impress the staff here, and I think he did it.”
Looking for Four Straight W's
Last Saturday’s 2-0 win over Orlando marked the first time Crew SC had won three straight league matches since October 11-26, 2014. Amazingly, they never did it once en route to winning the 2015 Eastern Conference championship.
If Crew SC can go to somewhere in Illinois this weekend and win a fourth straight game, it would be the first four-game winning streak since August 22 through September 1, 2012. What a memorable streak that was. It came on the heels of Kirk Urso’s sudden and tragic passing earlier that month. The grieving team banded together and mounted a surprise push up the standings. Not only that, they did so in dramatic fashion. The last four-game winning streak in Crew SC history looked like this:
Columbus 2, Toronto 1
This one wasn’t all that dramatic. Eddie Gaven scored in the 4th minute and Federico Higuain scored in the 58th minute to give the Black & Gold a lead that they never relinquished.
Columbus 4, New England 3
Crew SC fell behind 2-0 early in the first half, then stormed back to take a 3-2 halftime lead. The first and third goals were direct free kicks by Higuain. The second goal was a Jairo Arrieta laser beam. Things looked good until a late penalty allowed New England to tie the game in the 81st minute. Five minutes later, Columbus emerged victories when Josh Williams took a midfield throw-in, which was flicked on by Milovan Mirosevic to Tony Tchani, who looped a perfect ball over the New England defense to spring Arrieta, who smashed home the winner.
Columbus 2, Philadelphia 1
Williams score a 41st minute goal to tie the game 1-1 heading into halftime. Williams then saw a red card in the 67th minute. Williams then celebrated like a maniac, all alone in the locker room, when Eddie Gaven scored in the fifth minute of stoppage time to lift shorthanded Columbus to a 2-1 win.
“If there were cameras in there, people would be laughing,” Williams said of his one-man locker room celebration after Gaven’s goal. “I was going crazy.”
►Crew SC defender Josh Williams
Columbus 2, Montreal 1
Trailing late, Columbus headed down the winning path. Literally. Chad Marshall headed home a free kick service from Higuain to tie the game in the 80th minute. Then, in the 93rd minute, Emilio Renteria headed in another Higuain cross to win it.
So there was a lot of craziness the last time Crew SC won four in a row. The current three-game streak has been notable too. The win at D.C. United was only the second time in club history that the Black & Gold converted two penalty kicks in a game, and it was the first win while doing so. The win vs. Portland saw Niko Hansen become the first rookie in Columbus history (and only the 7th in MLS history) to score the game-winning goal in his MLS debut. And it was a dramatic 84th minute winner at that.
And then last Saturday’s 2-0 win vs. Orlando was fun for a Meram brace, even if the game itself wasn’t of historically notable craziness. But a dramatic win in the Windy City exurbs on Saturday afternoon would give Columbus another memorable four-game winning streak, which is something we haven’t seen in these parts in nearly five years.