CREW SC REACHES MLS CUP PLAYOFFS EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS FOR 13TH TIME IN CLUB HISTORY
With its result in Thursday’s match against D.C. United, Crew SC advanced to the MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals for the 13th time in club history. Additionally, this also marks the fourth time in five seasons under Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter that the Black & Gold have reached the same stage, having previously achieved this in 2014, 2015 and 2017. In 2017, the last time Crew SC reached the Conference Semifinals, the Black & Gold defeated New York City FC over two legs on a 4-3 aggregate score en route to reaching the Eastern Conference Championship.
HIGUAIN TIED FOR THIRD-MOST PLAYOFF GOALS IN CREW SC HISTORY
With his two goals against D.C. United in Thursday’s match, Federico Higuain brought his all-time MLS Cup Playoffs goal total to four tallies in 12 appearances (all starts), tying with Kei Kamara for third-most postseason goals in Crew SC history. Higuain is behind only Brian McBride (nine goals) and Stern John (eight goals), For a list of the all-time Crew SC goal-scorers in MLS Cup Playoffs action, see the table on the next page.
ZACK STEFFEN MAKES TWO SAVES IN PENALTY-KICK SHOOTOUT AGAINST D.C. UNITED
Zack Steffen made two saves during Thursday’s penalty-kick shootout against D.C. United, saving attempts by Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta. The match marked the second occasion in which Steffen participated in an MLS Cup Playoffs penalty-kick shootout, with his first appearance coming against Atlanta United FC on October 26, 2017. On that occasion, Steffen made saved two penalty kick attempts to help Crew SC advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Of the nine penalty kicks Steffen has faced in MLS Cup Playoffs penalty-kick shootouts since joining Crew SC in 2016, he has saved four of them.
ZARDES, VALENZUELA AND MULLINS MAKE MLS CUP PLAYOFFS DEBUT FOR CREW SC
Forward Gyasi Zardes, defender Milton Valenzuela and forward Patrick Mullins all registered their first Crew SC MLS Cup Playoffs appearance in Thursday’s Eastern Conference Knockout Round Match against D.C. United. Zardes, who played for the LA Galaxy from 2014-2017, started the match, registering 49 touches, creating two goal-scoring chances and taking two shots (one on goal). Valenzuela also started for the Black & Gold, registering 89 touches, attempting 51 passes and making two tackles. Mullins, who played for D.C. United from 2016 until July 11, 2018, came into the match as a substitute for Harrison Afful in stoppage time of the second half of extra time.
GASTON SAURO MAKES FIRST MLS CUP PLAYOFFS APPEARANCE IN THREE YEARS
Defender Gaston Sauro made his first MLS Cup Playoffs appearance since 2015 in Thursday’s Eastern Conference Knockout Round against D.C. United. Sauro started for Crew SC, finishing the night with two tackles, nine recoveries, four interceptions, five clearances, two headed clearances and five aerial duels won. This was Sauro’s first playoffs appearance since starting for the Black & Gold in MLS Cup 2015 against the Portland Timbers (December 6). Additionally, this was Sauro’s fifth overall postseason appearance (fifth start) for Crew SC since joining the club on August 6, 2015. During the 2018 MLS regular season, Sauro made seven appearances (six starts).
MENSAH AND SAURO HOLD DOWN THE BACKLINE
Jonathan Mensah and Gaston Sauro started as Crew SC’s center back pairing in Thursday’s Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Knockout Round against D.C. United. In addition to helping the Black & Gold limit D.C. United to just four shots on target during 120 minutes, the two defenders combined to make 16 recoveries, make 14 clearances, win 11 aerial duels, make five headed clearances, make four interceptions and make two tackles.