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Crew finds magic in stoppage time in win at Seattle

It's not often that an 89th-minute substitute makes a meaningful impact on a match, but try telling that to the Crew's Justin Meram and Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter.

Knotted at 1-1 in the fourth and final minute of stoppage time on the road against Seattle Sounders FC, Meram received a short corner from Federico Higuaín to curl his shot past Sounders 'keeper Stefan Frei, silencing the home crowd of 38,469 at CenturyLink Field and lifting the Black & Gold to their first-ever 3-0-0 start in club history.

“This is my coaching tip before he was going in – I told him to score a goal," Berhalter joked after the match. "I kept it real basic for him and he did that.”

Meram has shown flashes of the same brilliance in the past, scoring a similar goal in 2012 against the San Jose Earthquakes. It all came naturally to the fourth-year winger. 

"I practice that shot a lot, honestly, probably too much," Meram admitted. "It paid off tonight, so I’m just so excited for this club and the direction we’re going. This win – that goal – was not just for myself, but for this team and to be 3-0 is incredible.

"It’s the best way to start.”

The Crew was fortunate to still be in contention after a shaky first half in which goalkeeper Steve Clark limited the Sounders' damage to a single Kenny Cooper tally. Then, just before the hour mark, Dominic Oduro was awarded a penalty that resulted in a Djimi Traore red card and an Higuaín equalizer against the 10-man home side.

Berhalter lauded his netminder following the final whistle.

“[Clark] made some good saves, certainly," he said. "We know that he can do that. We know that he has that ability. He’s a fighter and a guy that relishes his chances. He came up big.”

Added Clark, who was voted Barbasol Man of the Match by Crew fans: “It was a tough first half. It’s nice to make saves. For me, that’s all I really care about, keeping the guys in the game. Obviously to win like that, it’s a fantastic win for us as a young team, and it was a great atmosphere.”

Next up, the Crew hosts its rival Toronto FC next Saturday. Despite losing 3-0 at Real Salt Lake in Week Four, the likes of Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe present quite the challenge for the Black & Gold.

“Toronto is a very good team," Berhalter said. "They’ve proven that they can win here [in Seattle] as well so it’s going to be a tough game. We know that.”

Echoed Meram: "This game’s over and now we look onto Toronto next week at home and all the amazing support we have back in Columbus.”

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