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6-Thought Box: Crew SC with nothing to play for and looking silver linings

Columbus was out of the playoffs so it was the individual performances that stood out.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Incentives matter

The result may be meaningless, but getting beat 4-1 still stings. It was clear that NYCFC needed all three points and kicked into a higher gear. Crew SC with nothing to play for couldn't match that intensity and the home side pulled away in the second half. Incentives matter, NYCFC had something to play for and Columbus didn’t.

The master of flow

While the result didn't matter in the grand scheme, there was still plenty to take from the game starting with Federico Higuain's return. Coming off an injury plagued season, he was impressive in the way he looked for the ball and controlled the tempo. Given his injury history, age and salary, Higuain's status for 2017 should be under scrutiny, but he certainly does what few on this team can: control how the game is played.

Mr. Consistency

Justin Meram capped an excellent year with an assist, his 13th. It's the third best total in team history, tied with Jeff Cunningham, Robert Warzycha, and Ethan Finlay. Plagued by inconsistency, he's developed in to the team's most reliable player in 2016. In a game with little at stake, Meram still put in a high energy performance, again showing off his skill on the ball and vision to make the defense splitting pass or take on a defender. Having a dependable option what will be a season of change will be valuable.

One for the record books

I don't think anyone expected Ola Kamara to come in and have the fifth best goal scoring season in club history, tied with Jeff Cunningham at 16. Kamara scored in the same fashion he always does, making the best run to be in a position to score. It's true you don't score the shots you don't take, but it's also true that you can't take those shots if you aren't in the right spot. Kamara gets to that spot as well as anyone in MLS.

Down range at the shooting gallery

Brad Stuver got his second start of his career and the defense didn't make things easy on him. He didn't really have a bad game for a keeper that let in four goals, but that's because New York City FC got plenty of chances on the counter attack. In the last 30 minutes, the home side had 6 of their 12 shots and 5 were on target. It was a shooting gallery and there wasn't much that Stuver could do with NYCFC breaking past a very static defense.

Silver linings for the future

Berhalter said that he wanted to get some minutes to some of the younger players to see how they performed. Cristian Martinez got 64 minutes and played like a 19 year old getting still finding his feet on the first team. The positives came from the flashes of skill came with the way he found space and his ability to play with the ball at his feet. He also showed excellent vision in making the right run at the defense off the ball. The bad was there weren't enough of those moments to be a consistent contributor and it's apparent he struggled with his fitness. Even if Crew SC had no playoffs to play for, it was still useful in getting players like Martinez and Stuver live game action against driven opponents.