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ryan schwepfinger

28 October 12:13 pm

MLS fans who also follow the UEFA Champions League will have a familar experience on their hands when the Conference Semifinals kick-off this weekend.

For the first time in League history, MLS will use the away goals rule as the first tiebreaker in deciding two-legged aggregate series.

For those unfamiliar with the two-legged aggregate series and how the away goals rule works, here's an explanation: Columbus and New England will play two matches in the Conference Semifinals. The total goals for each club over the two matches will be added up, with the most goals winning. In other words, margin of victory matters.

Here's where the away goals part comes in: if, after the two matches, the clubs are level, the first tiebreaker is the total number of away goals scored. In other words, if the Crew and Revs tie 0-0 in Columbus and then 1-1 in Foxborough, the Black & Gold would advance by virtue of having more away goals.

If away goals are also level after the second match, then the two teams will immediately progress to extra time and penalty kicks, if necessary. Away goals do not count in extra time, meaning that if both teams score in the bonus 30 minutes, it does not matter who is the away team and penalty kicks will follow.

The exact wording from the rulebook is below:

"The four Conference Semifinals will be decided by two-game aggregate series, with the lower seed hosting the first leg and the higher seed hosting the second leg. If the aggregate score is tied after 180 minutes of play, the away goals rule will apply so as to be consistent with CONCACAF and FIFA practice. If the series remains tied, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety, followed by penalty kicks, if necessary. The away goals tiebreaker will not apply to overtime in the second leg of any two-legged playoff series.

"The two Conference Championships will be decided by a two-game aggregate series, with the lower seed hosting the first leg and the higher seed hosting the second leg. If the aggregate score is tied after 180 minutes of play, the away goals rule will apply so as to be consistent with CONCACAF and FIFA practice. If the series remains tied, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety, followed by penalty kicks, if necessary. The away goals tiebreaker will not apply to overtime in the second leg of any two-legged playoff series."

24 October 9:05 pm

Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter hasn't been shy in expressing his sincere gratitude for the support that Crew fans have brought all season long. On Sunday's edition of "Crew Warm-Up," Time Warner Cable SportsChannel's comprehensive pre-match show, Berhalter says that that support began with the very first match of the season and hasn't let up.

"The fans have been with us every step of the way," said the Crew boss. "We couldn’t have done what we've been doing without them. When I think back to the first game in D.C., the fan support we had there, that really set the tone for the year, what they were going to be like. To have this many sellouts at home and to have us start a little slow at home and pick up momentum and become a team that people don’t want to play here – a lot of that has to do with them, the fans and how they’ve supported us. The players have really embraced that."

To hear more from Berhalter, make sure to tune-in to "Crew Warm-Up," airing Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET ahead of the season finale versus Philadelphia on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.

21 October 3:34 pm

The Crew's win over New York was one of its most defining moments of the season so far. Snapping a long streak of struggles in a place like Red Bull Arena was no easy task for the Black & Gold, and the national Power Rankings polls took notice. The Crew climbed in each of the three sets of rankings.

See below for Columbus' exact position, as well as where it stood at this time last week:

MLSsoccer.com: 7 (8)

ESPNFC: 7 (8)

SI.com: 8 (10)

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

18 October 3:31 pm

The Crew's possession-based system requires players comfortable on the ball all over the pitch. That can even be extended back to the goalkeeper position. Holding the ball often means playing it back, and Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark has been an asset this season in helping the Crew do that.

Among all goalkeepers this season, nobody has more ball touches than Clark, and nobody has passed to a higher percentage than the Crew 'keeper. A full list of all MLS goalkeepers with 1000 or more touches is below:

Goalkeeper Touches Successful Passes Passes Attempted Passing Percentage
Steve Clark 1393 632 814 77.64%
Jon Busch 1351 425 771 55.12%
Bobby Shuttleworth 1201 353 747 47.26%
Sean Johnson 1189 382 775 49.29%
Luis Robles 1170 344 613 56.12%
Bill Hamid 1142 341 644 52.95%
David Ousted 1107 335 590 56.78%
Tally Hall 1082 322 610 52.79%
Dan Kennedy 1035 288 588 48.98%

 

16 October 2:59 pm

Saturday's comeback victory in Philadelphia put Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter's Crew one step closer to the MLS Cup Playoffs -- in fact, the Black & Gold are about as close as you can possibly be to in without having officially clinched. Should the Crew officially qualify, Berhalter would set a club record in becoming the first Head Coach in club history to make the playoffs in his first full season as the Crew boss without any prior experience with the Black & Gold.

The full list of all full first-year Crew Head Coaches to make the postseason is below:

Year Coach Record Place Previous Experience with Crew
1997 Tom Fitzgerald 15-17-0 Fourth (out of five) 1996 (10 matches as Interim Head Coach)
2002 Greg Andrulis 11-12-5 Sixth (out of 10) 2001 (20 matches as Interim Head Coach)
2009 Robert Warzycha 13-7-10 First (out of seven) 2005 (16 matches as Interim Head Coach)
2014 Gregg Berhalter 12-10-10 (in progress) TBD N/A

 

14 October 5:20 pm

Although the Crew moved little in this week's Power Rankings, the national media had complimentary words about the Black & Gold's comeback, with ESPNFC calling it "impressive."

See below for this week's ranks as well as last week's position indicated afterward.

MLSsoccer.com: 8 (7)

ESPNFC: 8 (8)

SI.com: 10 (10)

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

13 October 1:05 pm

Lost in the hoopla of the Crew's dramatic and unprecedented 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Union was a milestone set by Black & Gold 'keeper Steve Clark. By making four saves against the Union, Clark hit 102 on the season and thus surpassed the 100-save milestone in his first season between the goalposts for the Crew.

In doing so, Clark became the first club goalkeeper to reach the century mark in stops since Andy Gruenebaum in 2012 (124 saves). Clark and Gruenebaum are the only two Black & Gold goalkeepers to hit 100+ saves over the club's last 10 seasons.

The all-time Crew list of 100+ save seasons is below:

Name Year Saves
Tom Presthus 2001 136
Jon Busch 2004 132
Brad Friedel 1997 131
Andy Gruenebaum 2012 124
Mark Dougherty 2000 111
Mark Dougherty 1999 106
Juergen Sommer 1998 106
Steve Clark 2014 104
Jon Busch 2003 104

 

13 October 12:52 pm

Anthony Precourt joined MLS ExtraTime Radio recently to discuss the #NewCrew reveal event and the club's future as Columbus Crew SC. Among the questions Precourt received was why the club decided to change to "Crew SC" as opposed to "Crew FC."

"We are in the heartland of America," said the club's Chairman and Investor-Operator. "The Ohio State Buckeyes are extremely relevant in town. We thought it was important to differentiate ourselves from football ... We play soccer here, we don't play football."

To listen to Precourt's full interview, check out MLS ExtraTime Radio's website.

10 October 10:02 am

Ahead of Saturday's crucial Eastern Conference match-up against the Philadelphia Union, make sure you tune into Time Warner Cable SportsChannel a little early for the debut of "Crew Warm-Up," a comprehensive pre-match show.

Dwight Burgess, Chris Doran and Ashleigh Ignelzi are slated to preview the contest at PPL Park and get you all you need to know prior to kickoff. You'll hear from Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter as well as select Crew players. The gang will also have the latest information on the other matches affecting the MLS race to the playoffs, discussion about the new badge and brand identity of the Crew and a look at the newest member of the Black & Gold, Kei Kamara.

The show starts at 6:30 p.m. ET on Saturday evening.

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

 
08 October 10:35 am

It was a slight setback for the Black & Gold in the weekly Power Rankings following the club's 2-1 defeat away to New England, but the Crew is still in good position in the Eastern Conference and will look to vault back up the charts with a result in Philadelphia on Saturday.

Check out the full rankings below, with last week's position indicated:

MLSsoccer.com: 7 (7)

ESPNFC: 8 (7)

SI.com: 10 (8)

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images