Justin Meram ear cup CLBvCHI 3-4-17
Daniel Herlensky / Crew SC Communications

SIRK'S NOTEBOOK: Meram's Mother's Day Magic

“Justin, you better score a goal for Mama on Mother’s Day!”

►Lamia Meram, Justin Meram’s mom, in the Crew SC Mother’s Day video.

“Why didn’t *I* think of that?” – all of the other Crew SC moms, probably, after Justin Meram scored a hat trick for good measure, since it sounded like his mother meant business.

Columbus Crew SC midfielder Justin Meram certainly had a game unlike any other in Crew SC history on Saturday night, in a 3-2 win in Montreal. He scored his first career hat trick. He scored a stoppage-time game-winner. He became only the sixth member of the 30-goal, 30-assist club in Black & Gold history.

All in one day’s work.

There was so much astounding awesomeness rolled into one historic evening that it’s time to go full-blown Mr. Numbers Nerd. Some of this stuff is mind-blowing. I don’t even know where to start.

I guess I’ll start with some hat-trick stuff …

MERAM JOINS THE HAT-TRICK CLUB

Before we get to the list … how about this?

When Ola Kamara recorded a hat-trick against Real Salt Lake in 2016, it snapped the longest single-club hat-trick drought in MLS history. Since Edson Buddle’s four-goal outburst in 2004, the Black & Gold had gone 370 games without a hat-trick, which was also a drought of 4,270 calendar days. Meram’s hat-trick came just 350 DAYS after Kamara’s 370-GAME snapper. Meram snapped a Crew SC hat-trick drought of just 33 games, which is less than a full MLS season. For those thinking we’d have to wait until 2028 to see another Columbus hat-trick, Meram’s trifecta must have been a pleasant surprise.

Even though there is so much more to get to, we will start with the basic hat-trick list. Stern John had five, plus another in the playoffs. Meram is now in a six-way tie for second with one.

REGULAR SEASON HAT-TRICKS IN CREW SC HISTORY

PLAYER

DATE

MINUTE SCORED

SCORE

Brian Maisonneuve

9/7/1996

39, 50, 82

CLB 5, @KC 1

Stern John

4/18/1998

48, 56, 64

CLB 5, MIA 1

Stern John

5/30/1998

62, 72, 80

CLB 4, SJ 1

Stern John

8/16/1998

71, 79, 81

CLB 5, KC 3

Stern John

8/1/1999

12, 83, 90

CLB 4, MIA 0

Stern John

8/18/1999

17, 59, 62

CLB 4, @MET 2

Dante Washington

6/16/2001

29, 73, 85

CLB 6, TB 1

Ross Paule

9/4/2004

26, 41, 68

CLB 3, LA 1

Edson Buddle

9/18/2004

9, 52, 65, 74

CLB 4, MET 2

Ola Kamara

5/28/2016

17, 64, 74

CLB 4, RSL 3

Justin Meram

5/13/2017

14, 28, 92+

CLB 3, @MTL 2

HAT-TRICK & A STOPPAGE-TIME WINNER

According to research done by Paul Carr of ESPN Stats and Info, Meram became only the third player to complete a hat-trick by scoring the game-winning goal after the 90th minute. Carr’s tweet originally stated that Meram was one of three to complete a hat-trick with a stoppage time winner, but in our follow-up conversation about the details, Carr amended it to “after the 90th minute” because one of those instances was Tampa Bay’s Mamadou Diallo scoring in overtime on August 16, 2000, defeating the MetroStars, 4-3. It was a 97th minute goal, but in a 100-minute game, so it was not a stoppage time winner, as it did not occur in stoppage time of overtime. (Oh the joys of the shifting game rules in the early years of MLS … it muddies the historical waters sometimes.)

In terms of scoring a stoppage-time game-winning goal to complete a hat-trick, the only other instance was Taylor Twellman on July 16, 2005. His was even more dramatic than Meram’s, since Twellman’s New England Revolution trailed FC Dallas, 2-1, in the game’s dying moments. Twellman netted his second goal in the 90th minute to apparently salvage a home draw for the Revs. Then he scored again in the 92nd minute to win it. So within the span of two minutes at the very end, Twellman upgraded a loss to a draw to a win. How about that?

Carr also noted that Meram became the first member of an Asian national team (Iraq) to record a hat-trick in MLS. A huge thank you to ESPN’s Paul Carr for these two statistical nuggets and the follow-up conversation. If you’re a numbers nerd like me, he is a great follow on twitter: @PCarrESPN

STOPPAGE TIME WINNERS IN CREW SC HISTORY

Meram’s winner on Saturday was the first stoppage time game-winning goal in Crew SC history since March 29, 2014, when it was done by … let’s see here … Justin Meram!

That was the legendary J90+4 goal in the 94th minute to secure a 2-1 win at Seattle.

Meram collected a short corner kick from Federico Higuain and then bent a beautiful curler into the far upper corner of the net to win it at the death. He was carried off the field via a piggyback ride from assistant coach Rob Maskaant, who promised that to him if he scored the winner that night. Meram came off the bench in the 89th minute and promptly earned his piggyback ride.

On Saturday, Meram scored the 13th tie-breaking, game-winning, stoppage time goal in Crew SC history. (I have to add the tie-breaking caveat because Robbie Rogers scored a retroactive game-winner in the final game of the 2007 season at DC. His was an insurance goal that put Columbus up 3-1 in the 91st minute. D.C. United then got a 92nd minute penalty kick on the final play of the game to make it 3-2 after the result was already in hand.)

TIE-BREAKING, GAME-WINNING STOPPAGE TIME GOALS IN CREW SC HISTORY

PLAYER

DATE

OPPONENT

MINUTE

SCORE

Robert Warzycha

3/25/2000

SJ

101+

2-1 (OT)

Edson Buddle

6/12/2002

@NE

101+

2-1 (OT)

Kyle Martino

8/18/2004

KC

91+

2-1

Tony Sanneh

9/8/2004

@SJ

91+

1-0

Jamal Sutton

7/20/2005

MET

92+

1-0

Kyle Martino

4/22/2006

@LA

96+

1-0

Jason Garey

7/25/2009

TOR

93+

3-2

Eddie Gaven

9/13/2009

HOU

91+

2-1

Robbie Rogers

5/8/2010

NE

91+

3-2

Eddie Gaven

8/29/2012

@PHI

95+

2-1

Emilio Renteria

9/1/2012

MTL

93+

2-1

Justin Meram

3/29/2014

@SEA

94+

2-1

Justin Meram

5/13/2017

@MTL

92+

3-2

Meram joins Kyle Martino and Eddie Gaven as the only three players to score two tie-breaking, game-winning stoppage time goals in Crew SC history. Meram, however, is the first Black & Gold player to do it twice on the road. Perhaps he prefers silence to cheers.

MERAM JOINS THE CREW SC 30/30 CLUB

Before he was hat-trick and stoppage time hero, Meram put Columbus up 2-0 in the 28th minute, becoming only the sixth player in Crew SC history to accumulate 30 goals and 30 assists for the club. Here’s that illustrious group of men:

CREW SC 30 / 30 CLUB

PLAYER

GOALS

ASSISTS

GOALS + ASSISTS

Jeff Cunningham

64

44

108

Brian McBride

62

45

107

Federico Higuain

43

39

82

Guillermo Barros Schelotto

33

41

74

Justin Meram

31

30

61

Ethan Finlay

30

30

60

It’s crazy that there are three active members of this exclusive club on the current team. HALF of the membership could be on the field at any given time.

Bonkers.

BIG DAYS FOR 30/30

Meram’s hat-trick is obviously off the charts in terms of joining the 30/30 club, but amazingly, five of the six guys were involved in multiple goals on the date they achieved the milestone. Ethan Finlay had to settle for what appeared to be the game-winning assist before a blown-lead loss to New York City.

JOINING THE 30/30 CLUB

PLAYER

DATE

STATS

RESULT

G/A AFTER GAME

Brian McBride

5/27/2000

2 G, 1 A

CLB 4, @MIA 2

41 G /30 A

Jeff Cunningham

6/15/2002

1 G, 1 A

CLB 2, SJ 1

39 G / 30 A

Guillermo Barros Schelotto

8/21/2010

1 G, 1 A

CLB 3, COL 1

30 G / 41 A

Federico Higuain

8/29/2015

1 G, 1 A

CLB 2, @NYC 1

34 G / 30 A

Ethan Finlay

4/29/2017

1 A

NYC 3, CLB 2

30 G / 30 A

Justin Meram

5/13/2017

3 G

CLB 3, @MTL 2

31 G / 30 A

Meram and Schelotto were the only two to join the club on the strength of a goal. The other four needed to wait for their assists to catch up. Finlay was surely the most balanced. He entered 2017 with 29 goals and 29 assists. Got the goal in March and the assist in April to hit 30/30 on the nose. Meram also hit 30/30 on the nose based on a flurry of goalscoring activity, joining Finlay as the only other player to hit exactly 30/30, but then Meram unbalanced his totals in stoppage time.

That’s fine. Nobody’s complaining.

THE FASTEST LEAP FROM 25/25 TO 30/30

As crazy as all this is, Meram JUST joined the 25/25 club earlier this year! Eddie Gaven (25 G / 35A) is the only addition beyond the current 30/30 cub. Meram hit the 25/25 mark on March 25, when he was at 25 goals and 27 assists. When I read him the list of names, he said, “That’s it, huh? It’s a great feeling to be a part of it.”

When we were done with our on-the-record conversation that night, I told him, “At the rate you’re going, you’ll be at 30/30 in no time.”

It elicited a chuckle and a smile, but no verbal response. If it was a knowing smile, Meram knows way more than I do because even at his torrid pace in 2017, I couldn’t have imagined how quickly he made the leap into the 30/30 club.

The previous fastest leap from the 25/25 club to the 30/30 club was 16 appearances and 16 team games by Higuain, who is the only other player to go from 25/25 to 30/30 in the same season. 16 appearances and 16 team games was the absolute fastest of the five prior members. Meram cut that mark IN HALF. Eight appearances and eight team games. Higuain also held the record at 92 calendar days. Meram made the leap in just 49 calendar days.

I might have half-jokingly sort-of-predicted a quick 25/25 to 30/30 leap for Meram, but Justin went out and made it happen.

With a big motivational assist from his mother.

Questions? Comments? Think I should tell Justin he’ll be in the 100/100 club in no time, then have his mom ask for 69 goals and 70 assists for her birthday, just to see the MLS record book go up in flames? Feel free to write at sirk65@yahoo.com or via twitter @stevesirk
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