COLUMBUS – The first match of the Trillium Cup belongs to the Black & Gold, along with all three points from Week 7 of the Major League Soccer regular season. Columbus Crew SC continued their four-game unbeaten streak at MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday night against Toronto FC. The Reds opened the scoring in the first half but, the Black & Gold emerged on top when the final whistle blew thanks to first-half goals by forward Ola Kamara and Justin Meram.
Columbus (4-2-1, 13 points) came into the match sitting at the top of the MLS Eastern Conference, whereas Toronto FC (1-1-4, 7 points) was resting in ninth.
The Reds opened the scoring with a Jozy Altidore header off a Victor Vazquez corner kick in the 21st minute, but Kamara equalized with a 37th minute tap in off an assist by the rookie midfielder Niko Hansen.
The Black & Gold kept the Reds at bay the remainder of the match with 28 clearances and 40 duels won. They also had an overall 80 percent passing accuracy.
The game-winner came in the 44th minute when midfielder Justin Meram cleverly placed the ball in the bottom corner of the net after Homegrown Player Alex Crognale headed a corner kick into the 6-yard box.
Goalkeeper Zack Steffen and defender Nicolai Naess have played every minute for the Black & Gold so far this season, the only two players to do so. Steffen made three saves from inside the box and two diving saves. Naess connected on 26 successful passes in Crew SC’s half and made four clearances.
Midfielder Federico Higuain also returned to action in style after being sidelined for a week due to injury. He made a pair of assists to both of the Crew SC goals scored. The Argentine also made 32 successful passes in Toronto’s half.
Saturday night's victory over Toronto FC marked the fifth straight match for Crew SC without a goal given up in the second 45 minutes.
Columbus Crew SC next visits the New York Red Bulls on April 22 for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff. The Black & Gold return to MAPFRE Stadium on April 29 for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff against Andrea Pirlo, David Villa and New York City FC. In 2016, Crew SC midfielder and current captain Wil Trapp represented Columbus at the All-Star Game in San Jose, Calif. He was the Club's first-ever Homegrown Player selected to an All-Star team.
21’– TOR – Jozy Altidore (Victor Vazquez)
37’ – CLB – Ola Kamara (Niko Hansen)
44’ – CLB – Justin Meram (Alex Crognale)
Unbeaten at Home
The Black & Gold are still unbeaten at MAPFRE Stadium in the 2017 MLS regular season. They played to a 1-1 draw against Chicago in the opening match on March 4, and then secured two back-to-back wins against Portland on March 25 and Orlando on April 1 before Saturday's 2-1 win over Toronto.
Unbeaten No More
Toronto FC marks the fourth unbeaten team that Crew SC has hosted and sent home winless in 2017. The Black & Gold played the Chicago Fire to a 1-1 draw on March 4, and they also defeated the Portland Timbers 3-2 on March 25 and Orlando City SC 2-0 on April 1.
Wil Trapp’s 100th Cap
Midfielder Wil Trapp stepped on the field to make his centennial appearance in MLS and for the Black & Gold. He is the club’s fourth-ever Homegrown signing and a first-year team captain for Crew SC.
First Career Start & Assist
Hansen not only made his first career start, he also notched his first assist on Kamara’s 37th minute goal. Hansen made his MLS debut for the Black & Gold in the home match against the Portland Timbers (March 25) in which he scored the game-winning goal in the 84th minute.
Home Field Heroics
Meram has played an essential part in all four of the Black & Gold’s home matches. All four of his goals this season came at MAPFRE Stadium. He also has two assists to his name this season.
First Appearance at MAPFRE since re-signing for the Black & Gold
Defender Josh Williams made his first appearance at MAPFRE Stadium against his former club, Toronto FC. Williams made his season debut on the road against D.C. United on March 18th. The 6-foot-2 central defender previously played in Columbus from 2010-14 before stops with NYCFC in 2015 and Toronto FC last season. He re-signed with Columbus in January.