LOOKING TO SECURE EASTERN CONFERENCE SECOND SEED
Columbus Crew SC plays its 34th and final 2015 Major League Soccer regular-season match and its 17th at home by hosting D.C. United on Sunday, October 25. It is Crew SC’s sole home meeting against the Black-and-Red this regular season as well as the third regular-season meeting of the year between the two teams. With a win, Crew SC secures itself the second seed in the Eastern Conference ahead of the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs.
LAST REGULAR-SEASON MEETING
#DECISIONDAY COMMENCES, CREW SC FLEXED INTO NATIONAL TELEVISION SLOT
In conjunction with FOX Sports, Columbus Crew SC earlier this week an-nounced that this regular-season contest against D.C. United is to be televised nationally on FOX Sports 1. The match was selected to be flexed into the national broadcast slot as part of Major League Soccer’s new “Decision Day” platform on the final day of the 2015 MLS regular season. As part of Decision Day, all Eastern Conference clubs’ final regular-season matches kick-off simultaneously at 5:00 p.m. ET as positioning for the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs is determined, with the exception of the New York Red Bulls’ match against Chicago due to the MLS Supporters’ Shield race.BLACK & GOLD AIMING FOR SECOND SEED IN EASTERN CONFERENCE
With a victory in this match against D.C. United, Columbus Crew SC would secure the second seed in the Eastern Conference and a bye from the Knockout Round of the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs. Entering the match against the Black-and-Red, Columbus can finish anywhere between second and fifth in the Eastern Conference. A win guarantees Crew SC a bye from the Knockout Round, while a draw ensures that, at minimum, the Black & Gold would finish fourth in the East and thus play at least one postseason match at MAPFRE Stadium.FINLAY JOINS DOUBLE-DOUBLE CLUB
By registering a goal last weekend against Toronto FC, his 10th of the season, midfielder Ethan Finlay became one of just three Major League Soccer players this year to reach double figures in both goals and assists. Finlay now has 10 goals and 13 assists in 2015, and he is joined in the “double-double” club by Sebastian Giovinco (22 goals, 15 assists) and Benny Feilhaber (10 goals, 14 assists). Finlay joins Jeff Cunningham in 2001 (10 goals, 13 assists) as the only Columbus players to ever reach double figures in both goals and assists.FINLAY AMONG MLS’ BEST SINCE MAY ‘14
Since the date of Ethan Finlay’s first MLS goal or assist, on May 17, 2014 at Portland, the Crew SC midfielder has a combined 21 goals and 20 assists. Over that timespan, only two other MLS players have more combined goals and assists: Robbie Keane (33 goals, 21 assists, 54 total) and Bradley Wright-Phillips (34 goals, nine assists, 43 total).
CLARK APPROACHING MILESTONE START
With his clean sheet against Toronto, Steve Clark recorded his 67th all-time start for Crew SC. Clark has started every regular-season match since arriving in Columbus prior to the 2014 season. Clark’s next regular-season start will be his 68th, which would tie him with Mark Dougherty for fourth place on the all-time Crew SC list. William Hesmer is the leader in all-time regular-season goalkeeping starts for Columbus, with 130.
AHEAD OF THE PACE
With one regular-season match to go in the 2015 campaign, Crew SC’s record of 14-11-8 (50 points) is ahead of last season’s mark to this point in the year, which was 13-10-10 (49 points). Crew SC is looking to clinch its second consecutive bye from the Knockout Round of the Eastern Conference with a win against D.C. United. In 2014, Columbus finished with a 14-10-10 record (52 points) in Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter’s first year at the helm, finishing third in the Eastern Conference. This season, the postseason format has changed to allow for two Knockout Round games, with the three seed playing the six seed, and the four seed playing the five seed. The first and second seeds earn byes and are set to face the Knockout Round winners in a two-match aggregate series, with the lowest advancing seed playing the first seed in the Conference Semifinals.REPLACING KAMARA AND HIGUAIN
This week, The Columbus Dispatch’s Adam Jardy profiled Crew SC’s need to replace both Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain in this contest against D.C. United. Both players are suspended via yellow-card accumulation. Via Jardy, a quote from Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter on the match: “Some other guys are going to have to step up. Some other guys are going to get chances, but having said that, we know it’s going to be very difficult to replace the quality of Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain. It’s a good opportunity for guys to get a chance in a game that means a lot.”
KAMARA FINISHES REGULAR SEASON IN EXCLUSIVE CLUB WITH 22 NON-PENALTIES
Forward Kei Kamara’s 22 non-penalty goals lead MLS by three goals over Sebastian Giovinco, who has 19 non-penalties. In Major League Soccer history, only three other players have recorded more non-penalty goals. Among them is Crew SC legend Stern John, who shares the all-time record with 25 non-penalties in 1998.
KAMARA’S RECORD-SETTING REGULAR SEASON
Forward Kei Kamara set several Black & Gold regular-season records this season, including:
- Most shots, single season: 135
- Most shots on goal, single season: 57
- Most game-winning goals, single season: 7
In addition, Kamara finished one behind Stern John’s 1998 campaign for the most combined goals and assists in one regular season (John: 26-5--31, Kamara: 22-8--30), as well as four goals behind John for the most single-year regular-season tallies in Black & Gold history.
AFFUL MAKING AN IMPACT
Since his club debut on August 19 versus New York City FC, Crew SC defender Harrison Afful leads all of MLS in crosses from open play, with 53. He has fired in 11 more crosses than the next-closest player, New England’s Chris Tierney, who has 42. Afful’s 12 completed crosses from open play rank second among all League players over that span.
BLACK & GOLD FINISH ROAD REGULAR-SEASON SCHEDULE STRONG
Crew SC’s win last weekend in Toronto secured a regular-season concluding stretch in which the Black & Gold went 6-2-0 over their final eight road matches. Crew SC is the only Eastern Conference club to have won six road matches in total this season and only two other MLS clubs have won more road games (Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Portland Timbers FC). Since July 15, 2015, the first win of Crew SC’s current 6-2-0 road stretch, only one other club has more than three road victories (Portland, with four).
WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN
Sunday’s 5:00 p.m. ET start is available via national television on FOX Sports 1. John Strong, Alexi Lalas and Ashleigh Ignelzi are set to have the call of the match beginning at 5:00 p.m. ET. Locally, the contest is available via the radio in English on CD102.5 FM and in Spanish on La Mega 103.1 FM. Dwight Burgess and Neil Sika are set to have the call of the match on CD102.5, with Juan Valladares on the microphone on La Mega 103.1. A complete list of places to catch the Black & Gold on TV is available here. The game can be watched internationally via the following: M. East & N. Africa, Abu Dhabi Sports / USA, FOX Soccer 2 Go / Europe (exl UK & Eire), Eurosport / Doha, Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong, BeIN Sports (ASIA AUS) / UK & Eire, Sky Sports / UK, SNTV.