HOW TO ADVANCE TO THE 2017 MLS CUP
Columbus Crew SC will clinch a spot in the 2017 MLS Cup by virtue of one of the following during its Audi 2017 MLS Cup Eastern Conference Championship Second Leg match against Toronto FC on Wednesday:
Defeat Toronto FC,
Draw against Toronto FC by a score of 1-1 or higher, due to the away goals rule
CREW SC COULD MAKE 3RD MLS CUP APPEARANCE
Should Crew SC defeat Toronto FC via aggregate score following Wednesday’s Audi 2017 MLS Cup Eastern Conference Championship Second Leg match, Columbus would advance to the 2017 MLS Cup. It would also mark the third time in club history that the Black & Gold have appeared in an MLS Cup. Columbus previously reached MLS Cup in 2008 and 2015, winning in 2008.
HOST MLS CUP FOR 2ND TIME
If Crew SC clinches a spot in the 2017 MLS Cup by virtue of defeating Toronto FC via aggregate score following Wednesday’s Audi 2017 MLS Cup Eastern Conference Championship Second Leg match, Columbus would host this year’s edition of MLS Cup. This would mark the second time that the Black & Gold have hosted MLS Cup, as they previously hosted the 2015 edition.
HIGUAIN MAKES 10TH PLAYOFFS APPEARANCE
During Crew SC’s match against Toronto FC in the First Leg of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Eastern Conference Championship, midfielder Federico Higuain recorded his 10th all-time MLS Cup Playoffs appearance (10th start). Previously, Higuain had featured for Crew SC during the postseason in 2014 and 2015, including starting for the Black & Gold against the Portland Timbers in the 2015 MLS Cup. He is now one of only three players in Crew SC’s current roster to have registered 10 or more MLS Cup Playoffs appearances, joining midfielders Justin Meram and Wil Trapp who have each made 11 appearances (all starts).
STEFFEN RECORDS 2ND SHUTOUT
Crew SC goalkeeper Zack Steffen recorded a shutout in the club’s 0-0 draw against Toronto FC (November 21) in the First Leg of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Championship. This was Steffen’s second shutout of the 2017 MLS postseason, and his 11th clean sheet of the year as he previously registered nine shutouts during the 2017 MLS regular season.
STEFFEN: LEADING GKS IN MULTIPLE CATEGORIES
Since the beginning of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs and through the First Leg of the Conference Championships, no other goalkeeper has registered more saves, faced more shots, or faced more shots on target than Crew SC’s Zack Steffen. Steffen has registered 14 saves dating back to Crew SC’s Eastern Conference Knockout Round match against Atlanta United FC (October 26), facing a total of 66 shots with 17 of those shots being on target. This is Steffen’s first year of play for the Black & Gold, as well as his first year in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
MOST PASSES DURING PLAYOFFS
No other team has attempted more passes than Crew SC since the beginning of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs. The Black & Gold have attempted 1,752 passes and completed 1,354 of them, the second-most of any team during the 2017 postseason behind only Seattle Sounders FC’s 1,364 completed passes.
TRAPP: 2ND-MOST PASSES
Since the beginning of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs, only one player has attempted more passes than Crew SC midfielder Wil Trapp. Trapp’s 209 passes are second only to Seattle Sounder FC midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro, who has attempted 235 passes. Notably, of the five players with the most passes during the 2017 MLS postseason, three play for Crew SC, as Harrison Afful (207 passes) and Federico Higuain (199) are in third and fifth place respectively. Of Wil Trapp’s 209 attempted passes, he has completed 164 of them. Interestingly, another Black & Gold player has completed more passes than Trapp: Federico Higuain. Higuain has attempted 199 passes, completing 165 of them, one more than Trapp.
SANTOS & HIGUAIN: 3RD-MOST CHANCES
Since the beginning of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs and through the First Leg of the Conference Championships, Crew SC midfielders Pedro Santos and Federico Higuain have each created eight goal-scoring chances, behind only Seattle Sounders FC’s Nicolas Lodeiro (11) and Houston Dynamo’s Tomas Martinez (9) for most goal-scoring chances created. Fellow Black & Gold player Ola Kamara is tied for sixth-most goal-scoring chances created, with six.
LUSOPHONE DUO AMOGST TOP TACKLERS
Crew SC midfielders Pedro Santos and Artur have more in common than speaking the same native tongue. Through the First Leg of the Conference Championships, the Lusophone duo are among the top 10 tacklers in the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs. Artur is tied with Sporting Kansas City’s Jimmy Medranda for second-most tackles since the postseason began, with 15 tackles to his name. Meanwhile, Santos has attempted 12 tackles, tied for fourth-most during the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs with the Houston Dynamo’s Tomas Martinez.
3 PLAYERS RANK FOR INTERCEPTIONS
Through the First Leg of the Conference Championships, three members of the Black & Gold rank in the top five for most interceptions made in the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs. Wil Trapp has the third most interceptions, with 11 interceptions made. He is behind only the Houston Dynamo’s Juan Cabezas (14) and Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s Aly Ghazal (14) in this category. Crew SC’s Harrison Afful (10) and Jonathan Mensah (9) are in fourth and fifth place respectively.
MOST AERIAL DUELS WON & MOST HEADED CLEARANCES
Crew SC defender Jonathan Mensah has proven to be quite effective in the air during the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs, having won 12 of his 17 aerial duels, the most out of any player since the 2017 MLS postseason began. In addition to winning the most aerial duels, Mensah is behind only Ola Kamara (25) in total number of aerial duels. Mensah is tied with Kendall Weston for first-place in headed clearances during the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs with 17.
YOUNGEST TEAM IN PLAYOFFS
According to data compiled by Transfermarkt, of the four teams that qualified for the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs Conference Championships, Crew SC is the youngest team, with an average age of 26.0 years based on the 23 players that played in at least one or more regular-season matches for the club. Additionally, the Black & Gold also boast the youngest average age for their starting XI, at 26.1 years. During the 2017 MLS regular season, the average age of players across the League was 26.8 years.