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Fastest Penalty Kick in MLS History Was a Designed Play by Columbus Crew SC

The Black & Gold ran a set play to start the match against the Fire and it worked out well for the team.

The national televised broadcast of Saturday's 3-1 Columbus Crew SC win over the Chicago Fire began in record-setting fashion.

Center referee Chris Penso awarded the Black & Gold a penalty kick just 12 seconds into the match after he judged that Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson brought down Columbus' Ethan Finlay after a quick play from the kickoff.

While it was both exciting and controversial, it was also a set play.

"It was good," Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter said when asked about the penalty kick after the match. "Obviously, that's a play that we've talked about so it's good to see when it works. A huge space opened up, Ethan was able to go one v. one with the goalie and we knew that Kei would be able to take advantage of that matchup on the wing, and a good ball from Wil, great header from Kei, great run by Ethan, and a penalty."

While most fans probably recognized that a play like that doesn't just happen, and is likely worked on in practice, they probably wouldn't have guessed that it wasn't meant to be run in this game. It was actually setup for last Wednesday's game in Chicago.

"That was actually a play that we had setup to run in Chicago," Finlay said postgame. "And we actually did not even talk about it before this game. Funny that, when we were getting ready to kickoff the ball, we thought ‘Well, we have the ball. Let's run what we were going to run,' and they obviously weren't ready for it and we made them pay."

Just as the Black & Gold were caught by a set play a few games back against Real Salt Lake, the Fire were not prepared for this one and it cost them quickly.

Of course, as Berhalter pointed out, none of this would matter if Federico Higuain hadn't stepped up and scored Crew SC's first penalty kick of the year.

"And then, obviously, a good penalty by Federico."