By Hilary // @hils4crew
Saturday, Sept 1: 2-1 Win
On Saturday in front of a home crowd of about 12,000 fans, Columbus Crew SC found their groove again that will hopefully continue on through the post-season and all the way to the MLS Cup, winning 2-1 against NYCFC.
While Crew SC felt like the more dominant team for most of the first half with opportunities for goals for Justin Meram and Gyasi Zardes, the half ended in a 0-0 tie.
Then in the 53’, NYCFC pulled ahead when Anton Tinnerholm hit the ball against Crew SC’s Lalas Abubakar. The ball then bounced back off Tinnerholm to the feet of Ismael Tajouri-Shradi who put it in the net.
It wasn’t long before Crew SC struck back and did so in a short time span. In the 61’, Frederico Higuain sent a ball to Harrison Afful who was outside the 18. He shot the ball. It bounced off an NYCFC player right back to Afful who took another rip at the ball. Abubakar ducked out Afful’s rocket shot and the ball sailed into the bottom corner of the net past Sean Johnson. The goal was very reminiscent of Wil Trapp’s goal a few weeks ago.
Then in the 63’, Justin Meram headed the ball in off a corner kick from Pedro Santos and celebrated his first goal since returning home to Columbus Crew SC by kissing the Columbus Crew SC badge on his jersey.
At the game‘s end, Crew SC was still in 4th place in the Eastern Conference, but 3 points closer to NYCFC who sits in 3rd place.
I am excited for the return of Justin Meram, and this game illustrated why it is so good to have him back. At the end of last season, Justin Meram requested to be traded from Columbus—partly due to the looming threat of a move to Austin and partly because he wanted to stretch himself professionally somewhere other than Columbus where he has been his whole career. However, things didn’t go as well as Justin had hoped in Orlando, and there was an opportunity for him to return to Columbus.
Watching Meram play his first full 90 minutes since coming back to Columbus, I’m reminded of what a dangerous threat he developed into as a player here—combining with other players, strong defending, taking players on as he attacked toward the goal, and taking dangerous shots. We needed someone to lock down the left-wing position, and Meram has settled right back into where he belongs. As he kissed the crest on his badge after his goal, I’m not going to lie, I got teary.
Pedro Santos has struggled this season, and many have found him a disappointment. However, in the last few games and with Meram’s return, Santos seems to have found his footing. He was involved in many dangerous passes that led to other player’s shots and had a few shots of his own. For a player who I think may be more of an assist man than a shot guy, having Meram back, may have eased the burden and allows Santos to be the player that he is comfortable being. Time will tell, but this fan is optimistic for what Santos can bring to the team.
Wil Trapp, Gyasi Zardes, and Zack Steffen have all been called up for USMNT friendlies on September 7th and 11th. These are three players who are very deserving of call ups. Zardes has proved that with the right team around him he is a dangerous scoring threat, scoring 15 goals thus far this season (and almost netting two more during this game). Steffen, I believe, is the USMNT keeper of the future. Wil Trapp is the cog of Crew SC’s midfield and can do this for the USMNT as well.
Finally, September 4th is a big day for the #SavetheCrew movement as the motion to dismiss that has been filed by PSV/MLS will be heard by a judge although it will not be likely ruled on for some time. I encourage all fans to familiarize themselves with what Crew SC fans are going through as it could be happening to other teams in the not too distant future. Visit savethecrew.com and learn more about the movement.
Crew SC will take on FC Dallas on Saturday, September 15th. I’ll look forward to Crew SC’s continued momentum towards the playoffs.
Featured image: @ColumbusCrewSC
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