Pipa corner kick
Courtesy Photo / Charleston Battery - USL

MATCH NOTES: #CLBvCHI on March 4

OFFSEASON RECAP

Carolina Challenge Cup Review

During the 2017 preseason, Crew SC participated in the Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, South Carolina, securing a 2-0-1 record by defeating MLS-expansion side Atlanta United FC and current MLS champions Seattle Sounders FC en route to winning the tournament. Midfielder Federico Higuain was the top scorer for Crew SC in the tournament, with two goals.

“Atlanta is a team that has been highly touted with the DPs they’ve been bringing in, with the signings they’ve been making. Seattle are the defending champs and I think we played pretty well that game.” 

►Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter

#CLBvCHI AT A GLANCE

Columbus Crew SC regular-season record: 17-24-14 (87 GF, 83 GA)
Home games: 11-10-7
Road games: 6-14-10 

06/26/2016 CLB 1 at CHI 2 L Toyota Park 
10/01/2016 CLB 3 vs. CHI 0  W MAPFRE Stadium
10/13/2016  CLB 2 at CHI 2 D Toyota Park

Crew SC faces Chicago for 1st of 3 meetings in 2017

This weekend’s match begins the 22nd Major League Soccer regular season for Columbus Crew SC.

It is the 58th all-time regular-season meeting between the two clubs, with the Black & Gold holding a 17-24-14 all-time record against Chicago. Crew SC went 1-1-1 against the Chicago Fire last season, managing one draw in two road matches at Toyota Park while de- feating Chicago at MAPFRE Stadium.

Last regular-season meeting

On October 13, 2016, Adam Jahn scored a brace for Crew SC at Toyota Park, neutralizing Chicago’s one-goal lead (scored by Michael de Leeuw) and allowing the Black & Gold to walk out of Toyota Park with a point.

COACHES

Gregg Berhalter (37-35-30, Columbus Crew SC: ‘14-Present)
vs.
Veljko Paunovic (7-10-17, Chicago FIre: ‘16-Present) 

WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN

Saturday’s 2 p.m. ET start is available via regional television on ABC-6, Spectrum Sports, and BCSN2. Neil Sika (play-by-play) and Dwight Burgess (analyst) are set to have the call of the match. The ABC-6 broadcast be- gins at 1:30 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. the English radio broadcast also is set to stream live on ColumbusCrewSC.com. The Spanish radio calls are also set to be streamed in Spanish on the LaMega1 App and via Tunein Radio as WVKO-FM. A complete list of places to catch the Black & Gold on TV is available. For complete regional television listings, please click here. The game can be watched internationally via the following: Abu Dhabi Sports, BeIN Sports Australia.

WIL TRAPP: ALL-STAR, NEW CAPTAIN

Homegrown player Wil Trapp was among the 25 players named to the 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star Team that took on English Premier League side Arsenal. Chosen by San Jose Earthquakes and MLS All-Star head coach Dominic Kinnear, Trapp came into the match during the second half and nished out the game. is was the 24-year-old mid elder’s rst MLS All-Star appear- ance to date. In 2017, Trapp will wear the captain’s armband a er three years as a vice-captain.

2016 MVP: MERAM

Midfielder Justin Meram notched several career bests in 2016 to earn the Most Valuable Player team award. Meram led the club with 13 assists - including two game-winning assists - and nearly tripled his previous career-best of five assists (2015). The Iraqi international made 33 appearances (31 starts) in 2016, en route to making his 150th appearance and 100th start for the Black & Gold. During the 2016 season he was fouled 53 times, the most out of anyone on the team. Meram is currently the longest-tenured player in the club and his 154 appearances put him in fifth place in all-time appearances for Crew SC, ahead of Frankie Hejduk.

2016 DEFENDER OF THE YEAR: AFFUL

In just his second season with the club, Harrison Afful earned the club’s Defender of the Year award. The 30-year-old defender made 30 appearances (30 starts) for the Black & Gold and proved to be a scoring threat, as he notched three goals and provided three assists. The Ghanaian international led MLS defenders in most recoveries (203) and most touches in the opposing box (73), further demonstrating his importance to Crew SC’s attack.

2016 GOLDEN BOOT: OLA KAMARA 

In the 2016 regular season, Ola Kamara scored 16 goals and provided two assists in 20 starts to win Crew SC’s Golden Boot award. The Norwegian forward registered four multi-goal games in 2016, including one hat trick and three braces. Kamara’s haul was good enough for fifth place across the League. The 27-year-old’s goal-per-90 Minutes ratio of 0.77 was second in MLS among players with 10 or more goals, ahead of players like New York City FC’s David Villa, Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco, and LA Galaxy’s Giovani dos Santos. Kamara was nominated to the MLS Newcomer of the Year award, and came in second place.

HAT TRICK HERO

On May 28, 2016, Ola Kamara became the first Crew SC player in more than a decade to score a hat trick. Kamara’s three-goal haul at Rio Tinto Stadium included the game-winning goal in the Black & Gold’s 4-3 victory over Real Salt Lake. The last player to have scored a hat trick for Crew SC was Edson Buddle back on September 18, 2004 during a 4-2 victory over the New York Red Bulls. With the hat trick, Kamara became one of only six players to have achieved this feat for the club.

INTERNATIONAL FLAIR

The Black & Gold’s current squad has players born in nine different countries: Cameroon, Costa Rica, Finland, Ghana, Guatemala, Norway, Panama, and the United States. Additionally, 12 members of the club have received a senior National Team call-up throughout their careers, from eight different countries in total:

Country ..................................Player
Cameroon ..............................Tony Tchani
Costa Rica ..............................Waylon Francis
Finland ...................................Jukka Raitala
Ghana .....................................Mohammed Abu, Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah
Guatemala ..............................Rodrigo Saravia
Iraq..........................................Justin Meram
Norway ...................................Ola Kamara
Panama...................................Cristian Martinez
United States..........................Ethan Finlay, Wil Trapp

BLACK & GOLD HEADS SOUTH

Ahead of the 2017 MLS Season, Crew SC spent some time in Sao Paulo, Brazil. During its time in the South American nation, the Black & Gold participated in three friendly matches against Sao Paulo FC, Gremio Osasco, and Ituano.

“It’s great to be immersed in a culture that’s so passionate about the game"

Crew SC captain and midfielder Wil Trapp

Additionally, Crew SC engaged in some community work, teaming up with Education USA and FauziRacy. First, the Black & Gold players partnered with Education USA to talk to local Brazilian student-athletes who plan to attend college in the U.S. about the demands of balancing academics and sports. Then, in cooperation with FauziRacy, Crew SC put together a soccer clinic for children of low-income families in inner city Sao Paulo. Nearly 100 children attended the event.

“The other part of our job - being a public figure, being an athlete - is what you do off the field,”

►Crew SC midfielder Justin Meram

NEW FACES, YOUNG FACES

The offseason was a busy one for Crew SC, as the club made 11 additions: Artur, Mohammed Abu, Lalas Abubakar, Alex Crognale, Niko Hansen, Logan Ketterer, Connor Maloney, Jonathan Mensah, Abuchi Obinwa, Jukka Raitala and Josh Williams. The club will have a young look this year, as nine of the team’s 11 additions in the offseason are 26 years or younger. With an average age of 25.16 years, Crew SC is the second youngest team in the League.

STRENGTHENING THE BACKLINE

Of the team’s 11 new players, seven are defenders: Lalas Abubakar, Alex Crognale, Connor Maloney, Jonathan Mensah, Jukka Raitala, and Josh Williams. Logan Ketterer - another new player - is a goalkeeper, ensuring that Crew SC’s has plenty of depth at every position in the backline this season.

HOMECOMING: WILLIAMS RETURNS TO OHIO

28-year-old defender Josh Williams returns to Crew SC after spending two seasons with New York City FC and Toronto FC. The Ohio native attended Cleveland State University in Northeast Ohio and originally donned the Black & Gold colors from 2010-2014, making 71 regular-season appearances (65 starts) for the club during his initial tenure.

MENSAH: DESIGNATED PLAYER

Among the new defenders to join the club is Jonathan Mensah - the Black & Gold’s newest Designated Player. At 26 years of age, the defender has plenty of experience, having played in France, Ghana, Russia and Spain. Most recently, he featured for Russian First Division team Anzhi Makhachkala. Mensah is also a two-time FIFA World Cup veteran with the Ghana National Team. To date, he has made 56 appearances (45 starts) for the Black Stars.

“I’ve been around the world and I know how it goes. e boys have been very supportive and it’s very good for me. I’m okay in the group so far and I hope it’s going to continue like that. I’m just ready to work, I’m just ready to help the team.”

►Crew SC defender Jonathan Mensah

GHANAIAN CONNECTION

In 2017, Crew SC will be able to count with four Ghanaian players in its roster: Mohammed Abu, Lalas Abubakar, Harrison Afful, and Jonathan Mensah. While Abubakar has yet to feature for the senior Ghanaian squad, his fellow countrymen on the team have made a combined 135 appearances for the Black Stars. Most recently, Afful and Mensah featured for Ghana in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. Afful was Crew SC’s 2016 Defender of the Year.

FROM COLLEGE TO THE PROS

The Black & Gold stacked up on young college talent during the o season, signing five former NCAA players. Alex Crognale is a product of the Crew SC Academy and joined the club as a Homegrown player, but he played soccer at the college level for the University of Maryland. University of Dayton’s Lalas Abubakar (5th overall) and University of New Mexico‘s NikoHansen (9th overall) were both First Round 2017 MLS SuperDraft selections by the Black & Gold. Pennsylvania State University’s Connor Maloney (49th overall) and Bradley University’s Logan Ketterer (71st overall) were selected in the Second Round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft.

JERSEY SPONSOR, NEW FOOD VENDORS

The Black & Gold will have a different look in 2017. In a deal that represents the largest annual commercial transaction in club history, Crew SC and Acura agreed to a three-year sponsorship agreement making Acura – the luxury automaker with a substantial manufacturing and R&D presence in Ohio – the Official Columbus Crew SC Jersey Partner and the Official Automotive Partner of Columbus Crew SC. With a new look but the same commitment to its city, the Black & Gold are ready to take on the 2017 Major League Soccer season. Also new in 2017 will be the addition of the Corona bar and the sale of Kahiki foods.

THOUGHTS ON THE MATCH

“They’re going to be excited about their prospects of a new season and getting to start over, and so are we - something’s going to have to give. It will be interesting.”

►Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter 


BE A PART OF HISTORY: Become a 2020 Season Ticket Member to SECURE YOUR SEAT in the new Downtown Stadium!