Columbus Crew SC returned home this Saturday after three road matches with the purpose of ending its major winless streak against the Chicago Fire at MAPFRE Stadium. Pushed by goals by wingers Kekuta Manned and Justin Meram and forward Ola Kamara, the Black & Gold came from behind to defeat the Fire 3-1 and collect the three points in front of 18,690 fans.
Crew SC now has 35 points and climbed to the fifth place in the Eastern Conference. The club has now a five-point advantage on both the Montreal Impact and Orlando City SC.
Crew SC had an early chance to score in the fourth minute after a defensive mistake of Johan Kappelhof, who tried to head the ball back to goalkeeper Matt Lampson and found Artur free in the box instead, but the Brazilian misplaced his header.
The Fire also attacked through the air, but didn’t waste the first opportunity as Dax McCarty found Michael De Leeuw in the penalty box and the Dutchman finished with a clinical header to find the back of the net in the 13th minute.
The visitors' lead did not last long, though, as Crew SC managed to tie the game in the 18th minute through Manneh. The winger followed up a long shot by Artur that deflected off Chicago’s defense and scored. Manneh almost got his second goal of the night five minutes later, when he intercepted a long pass from Lampson and tried to chip the goalkeeper, but placed the ball over the bar.
As in the first half, Artur had a chance to score in the beginning of the second 45 as the Brazilian’s shot from inside the box after a counter attack hit the side netting in the 55th minute.
Crew SC took the lead 18 minutes later, when Waylon Francis advanced on the left and found Meram at the far post in position to beat Lampson with a single touch. The left back had another crucial intervention one minute later, this time on the defensive end, as he tackled Nemanja Nikolic inside the box as the forward was about to finish from a very dangerous position.
Trailing, Chicago pushed numbers forward and gave Crew SC enough room to operate on counter attacks. In the 77th and 78th minutes, Kamara and Meram had clear chances to score, but failed to finish.
In the 86th minute, however, Kamara had another opportunity as he stepped into the box and was taken down by Lampson. The Norwegian converted the penalty kick to seal Crew SC's win.
A Milestone for Crew SC
The 3-1 victory over the Fire will be part of Crew SC's history forever as the club scored its 1,000th MLS regular season goal. The achievement belongs to Meram, who scored his 10th goal on the 2017 season and his 34th for the Black & Gold over seven years.
Crognale Gets the Day Off
After playing 524 minutes and starting each of Crew SC’s last six matches over the course of 31 days, center back Alex Crognale got some rest from head coach Gregg Berhalter and was not even included in the game day roster against the Fire. The Black & Gold started with Jonathan Mensah, Josh Williams and Lalas Abubakar on the backline and had Nicolai Naess as an option in the bench.
Lampson Returns to Columbus
Signed by Crew SC as Homegrown Player back in 2011, Fire’s goalkeeper Matt Lampson retuned to MAPFRE Stadium in his first match as a visitor in Columbus after playing for the Black & Gold for four seasons. He previously faced the Crew before twice, both in 2016, with a 0-0 draw on MLS regular season and a 2-1 win in the U.S. Open Cup.
Next week, Crew SC heads South to Florida to face Orlando on Saturday, August 19 at Orlando City Stadium in a vital game for both teams aspirations. After this game, the Black & Gold will have a three-match homestand hosting the LA Galaxy, FC Dallas and Sporting Kansas City.