The all-time leader in MLS Cup Playoff goals in Columbus Crew history is forward Brian McBride, who bagged nine goals over his Black & Gold career. McBride’s efforts include two separate braces for the Crew, on September 30, 1998 versus the Metrostars and on October 18, 1998 versus D.C. United. Narrowly behind McBride in the club’s postseason goal-scoring ledger is forward Stern John, who scored eight times for the Crew in the MLS Cup Playoffs. John notched a postseason hat trick on November 7, 1999 versus D.C. United, the only individual three-goal postseason effort in Crew club history.
The Crew’s all-time leader in MLS Cup Playoff assists is Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who registered seven helpers over three postseason runs with the Black & Gold. Six of those assists came during the club’s championship season in 2008, an individual club record for most assists in a single postseason. Andy Williams just trails Schelotto, with six assists. Robert Warzycha, Jeff Cunningham and Ansil Elcock all totaled five for the Black & Gold.
Among players on the Black & Gold’s current roster, the club has just 20 all-time MLS Cup Playoff appearances. Michael Parkhurst leads the way with 14 all-time postseason appearances, all previously with New England. Parkhurst and the Revolution advanced to the MLS Cup Final each year from 2005-2007. Hector Jimenez is the only player on the Crew to have won MLS Cup before, having captured the trophy in 2011 and 2012 with the LA Galaxy.
Over the Crew’s last six home matches, the club is 6-0-0 with an aggregate score differ- ence of 15-2 ... the stretch began with the club’s 4-1 win over the LA Galaxy on August 16 and has continued through the regular-season finale against the Philadelphia Union on October 26 ... all-told, the Black & Gold were 9-4-4 at home in the regular season.
FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE
The Crew and the Revolution are arguably the League’s two hottest sides entering the 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs ... over the Black & Gold’s last 15 matches, the team is 10-3-2 ... New England comes to Crew Stadium having gone 9-1-1 over its last 11 encounters.
Steve Clark was one of five MLS players to appear in every minute for his club this season, joining David Ousted (VAN), Jon Busch (SJ), Luis Robles (NY) and Stefan Frei (SEA).
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."
Steve Clark's diving save of Danny Cruz's top-of-the-box blast in Sunday's 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union is nominated for Save of the Week on MLSsoccer.com. Clark's competition for the weekly award includes the Chicago Fire's Sean Johnson, Portland Timbers FC's Donovan Ricketts, FC Dallas' Chris Seitz and the New York Red Bulls' Luis Robles.
Voting runs until 11:59 pm PT on Thursday and the winner will be announced Friday.
Working tirelessly up and down the left flank in Sunday's 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union, Crew leftback Waylon Francis earned a Team of the Week nod from MLSsoccer.com in Week 33. It is the Costa Rican's first Team of the Week appearance in 2014. Midfielder Tony Tchani was named Honorable Mention.