Leg One, two goals, three points. Columbus Crew SC shut out the New York Red Bulls 2-0 at MAPFRE Stadium on Sunday night. It took Crew SC only nine seconds to get on the scoreboard in front of a record playoff crowd of 21,617. What a way to kickoff the Eastern Conference Championship between the top two teams in the East! Here's a breakdown of the action by the numbers.
Nine seconds for No. 9. That’s all the time Crew SC midfielder Justin Meram needed to score the game-winner for his team tonight. His first postseason goal of 2015 and second in his career set the record for the fastest goal ever scored in MLS Cup Playoffs history. The previous record was also held by a Columbus player. Adrian Paz scored the Black & Gold's first ever playoff goal within 26 seconds versus Tampa Bay in 1996. They are the only two first-minute goals in the League’s entire postseason history.
Two of the best attacking teams in MLS accumulated 31 shots Sunday night with New York slightly edging Columbus 16-15. However, the Black & Gold struck seven on target versus the Red Bulls’ two. Six of those belonged to striker Kei Kamara, the most of any player on the pitch.
The cold November weather couldn't keep Crew SC supporters away on Sunday. After expanding MAPFRE Stadium's capacity by adding bleachers to the stage on the north end, 21,617 enthusiastic supporters showed up for a heated match. Their presence was felt as they set the record for the largest playoff crowd all-time for Crew SC. It’s also the first-ever postseason sellout in club history.
Five minutes after subbing in for Ethan Finlay, Cedrick Mabwati set up the security goal. He dribbled into the box and beat three defenders before smashing a shot on frame. Luis Robles managed to make the stop, but couldn’t hold onto it and Kei Kamara came cruising in for the finish. Mabwati has come off the bench for Crew SC in all three 2015 postseason matches. He also assisted Kei Kamara's series-clinching goal vs. the Montreal Impact in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
With Sunday’s win, Crew SC has now scored at least two goals in seven straight playoff matches at home. That streak dates back to November 8, 2008. Seven days from now, Crew SC heads to Harrison, New Jersey for the Second Leg of the Eastern Conference Championship. The match will be played at Red Bull Arena at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 29.