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Lori Sarver - www.lorisarver.com / ColumbusCrewSC.com

MATCH NOTES | #ORLvCLB

PLAYOFF SPOT CLINCHED

With its 2-0 home victory against D.C. United on Saturday, September 30, Crew SC secured a spot in the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs. This is the 13th time in club history that the Black & Gold have qualified for the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs dating back to 1996. Additionally, this is the third time in four seasons that Crew SC has qualified for the playoffs since Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter took over the club in 2014.

CLUB RECORD FOR MOST HOME WINS SET

Crew SC’s 2-0 win over D.C. United at MAPFRE Stadium (September 30) marked the team’s 12th home victory of the 2017 regular season, setting a new club record for home wins in a single regular season. The Black & Gold’s previous record for home victories in a single regular season was 11, which was achieved in four previous seasons: 1997, 1998, 2008 and 2012. Columbus also set a new club record for most points at home with 38, two more points than the 36 points it earned at home in 2012. Additionally, Columbus finished with regular-season goal differential at home of +17, the second highest home goal differential in club history, behind 1998’s goal differential of +18.

UNDEFEATED IN ITS LAST 8

Crew SC is undefeated in its last eight regular-season matches dating back to a 3-1 home victory over the Chicago Fire (August 12). Over that span, the Black & Gold have posted a record of 5-0-3 and have outscored opponents 16-8. This is Crew SC’s longest unbeaten streak of the 2017 MLS regular season, beating a previous streak of three consecutive wins from March 18-April 1. Additionally, this is the longest stretch of consecutive regular-season matches that the Black & Gold have gone undefeated since Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter took over the team in 2014. Crew SC’s previous longest undefeated streak in regular-season action under Berhalter was four matches, which was achieved on six separate occasions: two times in 2014, three times in 2013 and once in 2016.

WILLIAMS SCORES GAME-WINNER VS. D.C.

Defender Josh Williams scored the game-winning goal in Crew SC’s 2-0 home victory against D.C. United (September 30), his second tally of the 2017 MLS regular season. The defender has now scored in back-to-back matches, as he previously scored in Crew SC’s 3-2 home win over the New York Red Bulls (September 23). Williams’ goal against D.C. United came in the 14th minute, when he headed in a corner kick from Federico Higuain. This was Williams’ sixth MLS career goal, all of which have come while playing for the Black & Gold. In 2017, Williams has made 20 regular-season appearances (17 starts) and scored two goals.

HIGUAIN SIGNS EXTENSION

Columbus Crew SC announced last week that it had signed midfielder and Designated Player Federico Higuain to a one-year, Designated Player contract extension through the 2018 Major League Soccer season. The Argentine midfielder is in his sixth season with the Black & Gold and recently set a new career high in regular-season assists (11) with two matches remaining in the 2017 campaign. Higuain is a two-time recipient of Crew SC’s Most Valuable Player award, having won the honor in 2013 and 2014.

HIGUAIN RISES ALL-TIME ASSISTS CHART

Federico Higuain provided the helper in Josh Williams’ game-winning goal in Crew SC’s 2-0 home victory over D.C. United (September 30). This was Higuain’s 11th regular-season assist of 2017 and his 46th regular-season assist since joining the club in 2012. With the helper, Higuain moved past Brian McBride to take sole possession of second place in Crew SC’s list of all-time regular-season assists and is now behind only Robert Warzycha (61 assists). In 2017, Higuain has made 24 regular-season appearances (all starts), registering nine goals and 11 assists.

ARTUR REGISTERS 3RD ASSIST

Midfielder Artur provided the helper on Justin Meram’s goal in Crew SC’s 2-0 win over D.C. United (September 30) at MAPFRE Stadium. Artur played a through ball to Meram which the latter then sent to the upper right-hand corner of the goal. This was Artur’s third assist of the 2017 MLS regular season, as the Brazilian midfielder previously registered assists in a home victory over the Philadelphia Union (July 22) and in a 2-0 home win over Orlando City SC (April 1). This year, Artur has made 23 regular-season appearances (18 starts), recording three assists.

MERAM SCORES 13TH GOAL

Midfielder Justin Meram scored his 13th goal of the 2017 regular season in Crew SC’s 2-0 home victory over D.C. United (September 30). Meram scored in the 56th minute after receiving a through ball from Artur which he then fired into the upper right-hand corner of the goal. In 2017, Meram has made 32 regular-season appearances (30 starts) and has recorded 13 goals and seven assists. Since joining Crew SC in 2011, Meram has made 186 regular-season appearances (132 starts), recording 37 goals and 33 assists. Meram currently sits in sixth place in the club’s all-time regular-season goal scoring chart.

UNDEFEATED WHEN MERAM SCORES

In 2017, Crew SC is undefeated in regular-season matches in which Justin Meram has scored a goal with a record of 10-0-0. This year Meram has scored against 10 different MLS opponents: Portland Timbers (March 25), Orlando City (April 1), Toronto FC (April 15), Montreal Impact (May 13), Seattle Sounders FC (May 31), Philadelphia Union (July 22), Chicago Fire (August 12), LA Galaxy (August 23), New York Red Bulls (September 23) and D.C. United (September 30).

MERAM LEADS GAME-WINNING GOALS IN 2017

Through 32 regular-season appearances (30 starts) in 2017, midfielder Justin Meram has tallied 13 strikes for the Black & Gold, with five of those goals being game-winners. All five of Meram’s game-winning goals have come against Eastern Conference opponents: Orlando City SC (April 1), Toronto FC (April 15), Montreal Impact (May 13), Philadelphia Union (July 22) and Chicago Fire (August 12). Additionally, four of those goals were scored at MAPFRE Stadium, with only his game-winner against Montreal being scored on the road. With his haul of five game-winning goals, Meram leads Crew SC in this category, ahead of Federico Higuain, Kekuta Manneh and Ola Kamara, all of whom have scored two game-winning goals in the 2017 MLS regular season.

KAMARA COULD TIE LEAGUE SCORING RECORD

In 2017, Ola Kamara has scored against 14 different opponents in the regular season, per the Elias Sports Bureau. This ties him with Chris Wondolowski for second place in MLS’ all-time list of most teams scored against in a single regular season. Wondolowski achieved this in 2015, a season in which he scored 16 regular-season goals. Kamara and Wondolowski trail Mike Magee, who scored against 15 different opponents in the 2013 MLS regular season, scoring 21 goals. Should Kamara score against Orlando City SC on Sunday, October 15, he would tie Mike Magee for most teams scored against in a single regular season.

GOAL SCORERS NEARING MILESTONE

Heading into their road match against Orlando City SC at Orlando City Stadium this Sunday, the Black & Gold are on the verge of achieving a club first: having three players score 10 or more goals each in a single regular season. As it stands, Ola Kamara has tallied 16 strikes, Justin Meram has scored 13 goals and Federico Higuain has found the back of the net on nine occasions in the 2017 MLS regular season. Should Higuain score another regular-season goal in 2017, it would mark the first time in club history that three Crew SC players have each scored 10 or more regular-season goals in one year.

CREW SC GOALS: A TEAM EFFORT

In 2017, 21 players have seen regular-season action for Crew SC with 20 contributing a goal or an assist, including goalkeeper Zack Steffen. Steffen registered an assist in a 4-1 home victory over the Montreal Impact (June 24). For a look at several 2017 category leaders for Crew SC, be sure to check-out the “2017 Snapshot” on page 5.

STEFFEN IS 1ST GOALKEEPER TO 15 WINS IN 1ST YEAR

With Crew SC’s 2-0 home win against D.C. United on September 30, goalkeeper Zack Steffen recorded his 15th win of the 2017 MLS regular-season, becoming the only Crew SC goalkeeper to reach 15 wins in his first year of play for the club. Additionally, Steffen also tied Steve Clark for most shutouts by a Crew SC goalkeeper in his first year of play for the club, with eight clean sheets. In 2017, Zack Steffen has made 32 regular-season appearances (all starts), registering 91 saves and eight shutouts. 

MERAM SHINES FOR IRAQ IN FRIENDLY VS. KENYA

Last week, Justin Meram had the opportunity to play in Iraq for the first time in his career, as the Lions of Mesopotamia hosted Kenya in an international friendly in Basra, Iraq. The Lions of Mesopotamia got out to an early lead after Meram was taken down in the box and earned a penalty kick, which was converted by Brwa Nouri in the 18th minute. The match finished 2-1 in favor of Iraq, with Meram playing 79 minutes. Of his experience playing in Iraq for the first time, Justin Meram said the following this week at training: “Amazing in so many different ways, being my first time to Iraq, playing in front of our home fans, 30,000 just cheering you on. Experiencing something like that is what I wanted when I joined the national team three years ago and to finally have that chance was something that I’ll never forget”.

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