Columbus, Ohio — A weather permitted match took place when Columbus Crew SC hosted Eastern Conference foes, the Philadelphia Union. What would seem to be a very rainy day in the Buckeye state, ended up being a great evening for a night of Black and Gold Soccer
Justin Meram Scores Game Winner in 1-0 Columbus Crew SC Win Over Philadelphia
Early on in the first half, Crew SC striker Ola Kamara was knocked to ground inside of the penalty area. The Norweigan continued to get up on his feet, allowing him to take a volley shot from midair on net, but Union keeper John McCarthy was there to make the save.
The Union had a good look on goal in the 23rd minute when Marcus Epps was able to let go a shot from the left, but it went wide of the target and out.
Kekuta Manneh had a chance at net when Justin Meram drove in a low cross to the center of the box, but the danger was cleared out by the Union center backs. A few minutes later, Manneh was able to find Meram on his left side. Noticing the open space in front of him, Meram was able to finesse a curled shot that just barely missed the upper 90.
With no first half stoppage time, both teams entered the locker rooms scoreless after 45 minutes.
After the second half started, Columbus was awarded a corner kick. Rookie defender Lalas Abubakar was able to get his head on the ball but went out wide towards the touchline. Minutes later, Philadelphia was able to gain a counterattack of their own but Ghanaian defender Jonathan Mensah was able to clear the danger.
Columbus missed two opportunities to gain a goal, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Meram Breaks Deadlock
It wouldn’t be until the 65th minute that the scoreless game would become water under the bridge. Meram would dribble the ball into the box and take a shot that would deflect off of Union defender Joshua Yaro and into the net. Columbus would take the lead 1-0.
Meram would eventually be substituted in the 75th minute for Panamanian midfielder Cristian Martinez. This is the same Martinez that assisted the Ola Kamara goal against German Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt. For Martinez, it was his first MLS appearance of the season.
Columbus would go on to win the match 1-0. This match was a must win for the Black and Gold, considering that the New York Red Bulls won their match against Minnesota United FC earlier in the day.
Post Match Quotes
Head Coach and Sporting Director Gregg Berhalter offered his thoughts on the match to the media after the game.
On holding Philadelphia without a shot on target: “I think it gave us confidence. It was a total team performance. Very solid defensively and it gives you confidence that we’re eventually going to break through and keep going. To me, it was more about team defending than individuals.”
Although the Union ended with three total shots, they couldn’t find one shot on goal which made it an easy night for Crew keeper Zack Steffen. It’s also worth noting that Columbus almost had 90 percent passing accuracy in the second half, and still managed a clean sheet.
On 3-4-3 formation being Plan A: “We have our playing style. We have the way we want to play. We want to dominate the ball, we want to move the ball around quickly and we can do it in both formations. Now it’s about personnel and now it’s about the opponent. What’s the opponent doing? Who do we have healthy who can be on the field?”
Before the match, a note came across the local broadcast that this is their tenth time playing in this type of formation. In those ten times, they’ve made 14 changes to the lineup. They played the same formation in their friendly Monday against Frankfurt. Although it wasn’t the same starting 11 players, it’s clear to see that everyone can play their part in a more possessive formation.
Both teams return to action Wednesday to close out the home-and-home season series at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, PA.