Road to the 2015 MLS Cup: Defining Match No. 1

After 34 regular-season matches and four remarkable playoff performances, the stage is set for Columbus Crew SC to host the 2015 MLS Cup at MAPFRE Stadium this Sunday (4 p.m. ET, ESPN and UniMas).

The 2015 season has been far from “regular” for Crew SC. In the first season following the club’s rebrand, the Black & Gold have overcome obstacles and dismissed any doubt that they are one of the top teams in Major League Soccer. With their one-match-at-a-time mentality, the Black & Gold have put themselves in a position to win the MLS Cup for the second time in club history.

So how did we get here? What were some of the key matches during which Crew SC showed its championship-caliber play? We take a look back at Columbus’ “Road to the Cup” and highlight a few defining moments throughout the 2015 season.

Match No. 1: Crew SC starts streak with 2-1 win in Colorado.

After two tough outcomes, giving up a three-goal lead against Toronto FC and losing 5-2 to Orlando City, Columbus bounced back in impressive fashion with a 2-1 win at altitude in Colorado. The Black & Gold’s 2-1 win against the Rapids kicked off a four-match winning streak on the road for Crew SC. It fueled the Black & Gold’s surge in the second half of the season, when they went undefeated in eight of their final 11 matches.

The victory at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on August 8 was Crew SC’s second road win of the season. The first one came on July 15 in Chicago against the Fire. After waiting four months for their first away win, Columbus finished the regular season with one of the best travel records in the League.

The Black & Gold went 6-2-0 in their final eight road matches of the regular season, becoming the only Eastern Conference club to win six road matches this year. They also scored 20 away goals throughout the regular season, 14 of which came within those final eight matches.

Two of those goals came from a signature Kei Kamara brace against the Rapids. Colorado struck first off a set piece, but Columbus had other plans. Within 10 minutes, Kamara netted the equalizer on a low shot setup by Tony Tchani. The tandem combined again, adding Hector Jiménez into the mix this time, to double Crew SC’s lead and seal the win.

That significant victory over the Rapids set the tone for Crew SC’s remaining year and showed how vital success in the second half of the season can be. The victory also marked only the second of three times in 2015 that Crew SC came from behind to earn three points.

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