COLUMBUS – The smoke rolled and the flags waved once again in the stands of MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday as Columbus Crew SC kicked off their 22nd Major League Soccer season against the Chicago Fire. The two sides traded goals with the end result being a 1-1 draw. Crew SC controlled possession and eventually secured the lead in the first half behind midfielder Ethan Finlay's 30th career MLS goal.
Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter and Crew SC welcomed the Fire to town on a brisk mid-30-degree afternoon. Crew SC goalkeeper Zack Steffen finished with two saves in his MLS and Columbus debut. Jonathan Mensah, Jukka Raitala, Mohammed Abu, Artur all debuted in MLS for the Black & Gold.
Crew SC's successful early attack enthused the crowd to it's fever pitch in the 17th minute when Justin Meram's masterful cross found an on-rushing Finlay. Finlay nodded home his first goal of 2017 after scoring six in 2016. It was the 30th goal of his Black & Gold career.
Columbus took its lead into halftime after seven shots against the Fire’s two. Three of their shots were on target, while Chicago failed to shoot on frame. Columbus out-possessed the Fire with 56.1 percent.
The second stanza saw Chicago midfielder David Accam equalize the contest in the 73rd minute on an unassisted goal. His flashy and frenzied footwork freed space inside the box before he finished beyond Steffen's dive on the far post.
Both clubs saw multiple chances to seize the lead late in the match, but none fell to separate the sides. The Fire led the second half with 10 total shots compared to three by Crew SC.
17’ – CLB – Ethan Finlay (Justin Meram)
73’ – CHI – David Accam
Saturday gave Crew SC a chance to showcase their new primary jerseys. The primary Gold kits sported the club's new Jersey and official Automobile Partner Acura's logo emblazoned on the chest along with multiple details that reference Ohio history.
It's been seven years since Crew SC opened the season at home in Columbus. Supporters have come to call the season opener Crewsmas, with unofficial club historian Steve Sirk dubbing the rare season-opening home match as SuperCrewsmas.
Columbus Crew SC will next travel to the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, March 11 with an 8:30 p.m. ET.
Crew SC returns to MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday, March 25, to host the Portland Timbers at 7:30 p.m. ET.