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Crew beats LAFC 4-2 to continue in great preseason form

The Black & Gold ended their camp in California with a promising victory in Los Angeles.

Photo Courtesy of LAFC

Columbus Crew SC remained unbeaten in preseason, as the Black & Gold defeated Major League Soccer rivals Los Angeles Football Club 4-2 on Monday in a friendly match played at the Banc of California Stadium, in Los Angeles. Rookie JJ Williams scored twice for Columbus and forward Patrick Mullins and winger Justin Meram each also found the score sheet.

“I thought it was a good performance outside the result,” head coach Caleb Porter said after the game. “Obviously, it never hurts to win a game and we were playing a very good team in LAFC. We knew they had a great performance in their last match against Vissel Kobe and we knew we had our hands full. But our group was up to the task. We wanted to make it more real, so we had a good majority of guys who played 60 minutes and we had a group coming in the last 30 that really showed us some things as well. Overall, to score four goals and play really well for periods of the game, I thought it was a really good test and we were up for it today.”

Columbus now has two wins and one tie in three preseason friendlies in California as the team tied with Japanese side Vissel Kobe 0-0 on Jan. 28 at the Championship Soccer Stadium in Irvine, and defeated Mexican opponent Club Tijuana three days later in a closed-door scrimmage, in Chula Vista.

Against LAFC, the Crew showed glimpses of the offensive power it hadn’t displayed yet in preseason.

“Today was important because we had been playing well box to box in the first two games, but we hadn’t showed that cutting-edge, that ruthlessness, that killer instinct in the final third and I think we showed that today,” Porter added. “It’s important that we’re a good passing team, a possession team and a team that can be precise and ruthless in the final third and scored goals. To score four goals against a really good team, it really said out loud about that piece we’ve been driving at this last week, that attacking piece.”

Porter sent the Crew to the field with goalkeeper Joe Bendik, defenders Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, Gaston Sauro and Hector Jimenez, midfielders Ricardo Clark, Artur, Pedro Santos, Federico Higuain and Robinho and forward Patrick Mullins.

For the second half, goalkeeper Jon Kempin, defender Lalas Abubakar, midfielders Luis Argudo and Justin Meram and forward JJ Williams came in for Bendik, Sauro, Clark, Robinho and Mullins, respectively.

The first half ended at 1-1 with an own goal off Jonathan putting the hosts ahead before Mullins tied the game. The Californians struck first in the second half again with Lee Nguyen, but Columbus responded with a brace from Williams and a late goal by Meram.

The friendly ended Columbus’ preparation in California, as the team will be back in Central Ohio for a few days before they head to Charleston, South Carolina, where it will play FC Cincinnati, the Chicago Fire and the Charleston Battery in the Carolina Cup Challenge from Feb. 16-23.

Goalkeeper Zack Steffen, midfielder Wil Trapp and forward Gyasi Zardes, who were with the U.S. National Team during the January camp, which ended on Saturday, will join the Crew for the final stage of preparation for the 2019 MLS season.