COLUMBUS – Two clubs with a long history in Major League Soccer met once again at MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday night. The Chicago Fire came to town to meet Columbus Crew SC in a match that ended 3-1 in favor of the Black & Gold thanks to late goals by midfielder Justin Meram and forward Ola Kamara and a first-half equalizer by Kekuta Manneh.
Despite heavy possession and attack by Crew SC in the early minutes, Chicago scored first on a headed ball by midfielder Michael de Leeuw in just the 13th minute. De Leeuw redirected a floated assist by Chicago midfielder Dax McCarty for the goal and 1-0 lead.
Crew SC’s Manneh struck for Columbus in the 18th minute when a loose ball after a long shot by Artur ended up at Manneh’s feet in the box. The winger put a masterful first touch and the ball and chipped it home over Chicago goalkeeper Matt Lampson to bring the tally even at 1-1.
The goal was the 25th of Manneh’s MLS career and the third of this season, his first with Crew SC.
The attacking by both teams quieted to a lull through the remainder of the first half and into the second half until Crew SC defender Waylon Francis sent a cross into the box in the 73rd minute. The cross was found by Meram and booted into the center of the net to give the Black & Gold the 2-1 lead and eventual victory.
Wil Trapp was credited with a secondary assist for supplying the ball to Francis. The primary assist was the first of the 2017 season for Francis. The goal was Meram’s 10th of the season, raising his career high for goals in a single campaign.
Meram has scored five game-winning goals this season. The late score not only won the match, but also went down in history as the 1,000th regular-season MLS goal scored in the history of Crew SC.
Kamara was fouled in the box in the 88th minute when Lampson went low on the forward. Kamara was awarded a penalty kick where he used misdirection to his advantage against the keeper of the Fire and clinched the 3-1 victory.
Kamara’s team-leading 12th goal this season came in his 50th career appearance as a member of Crew SC.
The Black & Gold recorded more shots on target (4-3) and off target (5-4) against the Fire in the match while also winning more duels (40-37) and tackles (17-10) than the visitors.
Columbus (11-12-2, 35 points) gained some ground and moved up to fifth place in the MLS Eastern Conference standings, while Chicago (12-6-5, 41 points) remained in second place for the time-being.
Venue: MAPFRE Stadium (Columbus, OH)
Referee: Armando Villarreal
Assistants: Corey Parker, Kevin Klinger
Fourth Official: Younes Marrakchi
Video Assistant Referee: Hilario Grajeda
13’ – CHI – Michael de Leeuw (Dax McCarty)
18’ – CLB – Kekuta Manneh
73’ – CLB – Justin Meram (Waylon Francis, Wil Trapp)
88’ – CLB – Ola Kamara (PK)
CHI – Joao Meira (Caution) 26’
CLB – Justin Meram (Caution) 59’
CLB – Jonathan Mensah (Caution) 67’
CHI – Matt Polster (Caution) 73’
CHI – Matt Lampson (Caution) 89’
Columbus Crew SC: Zack Steffen; Jonathan Mensah, Josh Williams, Lalas Abubakar; Harrison Afful (Hector Jimenez 46’), Artur, Wil Trapp ©, Waylon Francis; Kekuta Manneh (Cristian Martinez 65’), Justin Meram (Adam Jahn 90’); Ola Kamara
Substitutes not used: Brad Stuver, Nicolai Naess, Jukka Raitala, Mohammed Abu
Chicago Fire: Matt Lampson; Patrick Doody, Joao Meira, Johan Kappelhof, Matt Polster; Dax McCarty ©, Bastian Schweinsteiger; Luis Solignac (Arturo Alvarez 60’), Michael de Leeuw, David Accam (Jonathan Campbell 90’); Nemanja Nikolic
Substitutes not used: Stefan Cleveland, Drew Conner, Christian Dean, Djordje Mihailovic, Juninho
League-renowned attackers David Accam and Nemanja Nikolic were held in check at MAPFRE Stadium. The duo owns 28 goals combined on the season so far, but were held scoreless with only three shots by the Crew SC defense.
Call it even
The season series between Columbus and Chicago has been deadlocked in 2017. Both clubs own a result, along with a draw that occurred in the season opener. The 3-1 victory on Saturday night gave Crew SC the edge in goal differential by one.
Long and storied
Crew SC and the Fire have now met on the pitch a total of 60 times. The Black & Gold hold a record of 18-24-17 against their Midwestern Rivals with a record of 12-10-7 at home at MAPFRE Stadium. Columbus is undefeated (5-0-2) in their last seven home matches against Chicago.
Columbus Crew SC will travel south next to face Orlando City SC on Saturday, August 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
The Black & Gold will return home on Wednesday, August 23 to kick off a three-game homestand when they face the LA Galaxy in what will be a 7:30 p.m. ET start at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus.