November 22, 2015
A sellout crowd of 21,617 hadn’t even settled into their seats when Justin Meram gave Crew SC a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Red Bulls. Meram’s goal came just nine seconds into the match, which was the fastest goal in MLS Cup Playoffs history. (The old record of 27 seconds was held by Columbus’ Adrian Paz, set back in 1996.)
The goal came off a kickoff set piece that Crew SC likes to run. The plan is to drop the ball to Wil Trapp off the kickoff, have him find Kei Kamara for a header way down the field, then have guys like Meram and Ethan Finlay run off of Kamara to see what happens. In this case, Kamara’s header fell to Finlay, who got cleaned out by his defender, but Meram was in position to pounce on the loose ball and strike it into the net.
It was a devastating goal. It would be another 180+ minutes and a last-second goalmouth clearance by Kei Kamara after a goalpost ricochet before Crew SC would be crowned kings of the Eastern Conference for the second time in club history, but the tone was set when “J9” scored nine seconds into the series.
“The stars align sometimes,” Meram said after the first game. “Nine seconds. Nine’s my favorite number. It’s my (jersey) number. It’s my good luck number. It’s the number that’s going to stay with me for the rest of my life. No better time to score that in the 9th second.”
BONUS MOMENT: SPECIAL OLYMPICS MATCH IN NEW YORK
October 3, 2015
During Crew SC’s final regular season visit to Red Bull Arena, they were joined by some special guests. The Franklin County Flyers, a Special Olympics soccer team, made the trip to take on a New Jersey team at the conclusion of the MLS match. The Flyers rallied for a 4-4 draw on Ricko Thornton’s goal with 20 seconds remaining.