COLUMBUS – Goals were aplenty under the lights at MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday night in Columbus Crew SC’s second home match of the 2017 MLS regular season. Against the unbeaten Portland Timbers, midfielder Niko Hansen played the hero in his MLS debut after booting home the go-ahead goal in the 84th minute of Crew SC's 3-2 victory. First half goals by Crew SC's Justin Meram and Ola Kamara set the stage for Hansen's game-winning dramatics.
Crew SC responded to Portland's opening goal shortly thereafter, when Meram drove home an equalizer in the 11th minute off a scramble after a corner kick. It was Meram’s first goal of the 2017 campaign and the 25th of his MLS and Crew SC career.
It did not take the Black & Gold long to strike again, this time with Kamara chipping Portland goalkeeper Jake Gleeson's head in transition off a long assist from midfielder Federico Higuaín. It was Kamara’s fourth goal in his last five contests dating back to the 2016 season.
Both clubs recorded six shots on goal in the first half, but the Black & Gold controlled the ball with 63.5 percent possession.
The second half was hotly contested. The scoring subsided until Hansen’s tie-breaking goal off a rebound from Gleeson.
Crew SC finished with 16 shots, outshooting Portland by five. The Black & Gold also led the game in shots on-target with a 7-5 margin. They also maintained their advantage in the possession battle with 64.5 percent in the game and completed 572 passes compared to Portland’s 316.
Saturday was the second time these two teams have met since the 2015 MLS Cup Final during at MAPFRE Stadium — but the first meeting in Columbus since 2015.
Portland's Dairon Asprilla scored in the fourth minute, assisted by fellow midfielder Sebastián Blanco. The Timbers evened the score at two right before the half with forward Fanendo Adi scoring a goal in traffic during stoppage time. He was assisted off a cross by defender Alvas Powell.
Crew SC improved their record to 2-1-1 (7 pts.) and handed Portland (3-1-0, 9 pts.) their first loss of the 2017 MLS season.
The Black & Gold next host Orlando City on April 1 for a 4 p.m. ET kickoff at MAPFRE Stadium.
4’ – POR – Dairon Asprilla (Sebastián Blanco)
11’ – CLB – Justin Meram
19’ – CLB – Ola Kamara (Federico Higuaín)
45’+3’ – POR – Fanendo Adi (Alvas Powell)
84’ – CLB – Niko Hansen
There were two cautions assessed during the first half, one to each team. Diego Chara of Portland received a yellow card during the 25th minute for unsporting behavior. Crew SC captain Wil Trapp received the same shortly thereafter due to a sliding tackle attempt.
A yellow card was assessed to Crew SC’s Artur in the 65th minute for unsporting behavior. Portland’s Blanco was shown the yellow as well in the 69th minute after challenging Harrison Afful for the ball. Diego Valeri also received a caution in the 70th minute.
Business as usual
Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter returned to his usual 4-2-3-1 formation Saturday night after using an uncommon 3-4-2-1 alignment during last week’s win against DC United.