justin meram vs portland
Greg Bartram / USA Today

SIRK’S NOTEBOOK: Meram joins Crew SC's 25/25 Club

Niko Hansen’s historic night obviously stole the show, but Saturday also saw another historic milestone as Justin Meram became just the seventh player in Columbus Crew SC history to tally at least 25 goals and 25 assists while wearing Black & Gold.

For a man who has scored some breathtakingly artistic goals over the years, No. 25 was a poacher’s goal more reminiscent of a hockey scrum. Ola Kamara headed a Federico Higuain corner kick. The ball caromed off of a defender’s knee, right to Meram at the other post. Completely unmarked, he swung his left leg and whacked the ball into the net from three yards out to tie the game at 1-1.

Meram isn’t complaining about the simplicity of the chance, given he has missed a couple from in tight on the young season.

“It was good,” Meram said. “I had couple chances inside the box early (this season) and if this one didn’t go in, I wouldn’t know what I would tell you. The ball just kind of popped right there.”

It was an important goal too. It came just seven minutes after Portland had taken a 1-0 lead in the 4th minute. Crew SC no longer faced the immediate prospect of chasing the game from behind.

“That goal brings us back down to playing our game,” he said. “We took a deep breath and executed our game plan.”

*****

With Meram’s goal, here is the updated list of Crew SC’s 25 goal / 25 assist club in MLS play, sorted by goals plus assists.

CREW SC 25 / 25 CLUB

PLAYER

GOALS

ASSISTS

GOALS + ASSISTS

Jeff Cunningham

64

44

108

Brian McBride

62

45

107

Federico Higuain

40

35

75

Guillermo Barros Schelotto

33

41

74

Eddie Gaven

35

25

60

Ethan Finlay

30

29

59

Justin Meram

25

28

53

When I told Meram of the only other six names on the list, his response was, “That’s it, huh? It’s a great feeling to be a part of it.”

Meram tallied five goals and four assists in his first three seasons, spanning 58 appearances. Saturday was his 100th appearance under Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. In those 100 matches in barely over three seasons, Meram has contributed 20 goals and 24 assists.

“If you had asked me this, four, five, six years ago, I never would have thought I’d be close to where I am at today,” Meram said. “I am thankful for my coaches and teammates. And myself as well. The mental toughness I have gained as a veteran is improving and I just want to be my best for the team.”

Captain Wil Trapp feels that Meram is certainly doing his part.

“He’s been great,” Trapp said. “Obviously, he contributes on many fronts for us. It’s a proven fact that he’s a dangerous player in this league. He’s showing it with the statistics he’s putting out.”

Josh Williams was a teammate of Meram’s from 2011-2014. He was around for those early years and saw the first blossoms of Meram’s talents in 2014 before spending time with New York City FC and Toronto FC in 2015 and 2016. Now Williams has returned to Columbus to find his old friend at the top of his game.

“Those are some of the greatest names in Crew SC history,” Williams said of the 25/25 club. “To be in that type of a company says a lot about how far he has come. He’s turned himself into one of the most feared players in the league and it’s been cool to watch that process. He deserves to be mentioned with those names (on the 25/25 list).”

Williams then decided to pump the brakes a little.

“Don’t tell him I said all that stuff about him,” Williams said. “We don’t need to boost his ego any more than we do!”

I don’t know that it matters what anyone says. The list speaks for itself. There are only seven members in the Crew SC 25/25 Club, and on Saturday night, Meram earned his lifetime membership.

Besides, Josh, I think we may be in the clear. This doesn’t sound like an ego running rampant. Yet. (After all, he hasn’t read your comments, which may put him over the top.)

“I just thought it was an honor to wear the jersey of the club that drafted me and to help out in any way possible,” Meram said of his milestone. “This club means a lot to me. I’m thankful for everything this club has given me.”

And in return, Meram has given plenty to the club, as evidenced by the 25/25 milestone. Plus, with his new contract extension keeping him in Columbus for the foreseeable future, it is likely that we will see Meram’s name moving up increasingly selective lists in the coming years.

The 25/25 Club is a milestone for Meram, but it’s hardly the summit.

Questions? Comments? Think any of the three active members have a shot at pioneering the 50/50 Club in the future? Feel free to write at sirk65@yahoo.com or via twitter @stevesirk
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