By, Kyle Gibson
Columbus Crew SC started its first home game at the newly christened MAPFRE Stadium with a bang, winning 2-0 over last year’s bogey team, Toronto FC.
Toronto boasts perhaps the best trio of stars in the league, with Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley, but the unheralded Crew was able to pick up the victory.
Both goals the Crew scored on came from crosses. The first was an Ethan Finlay cross to Justin Meram, while the second came from defender Waylon Francis to Kei Kamara.
Crossing has found its way out of much of the international game, but it’s something second year manager Gregg Berhalter has doubled down on.
It was clear from the word go last season that crossing was going to be part of the Crew’s game, but frustratingly, there did not seem to be many pieces that could get on the end of balls played into the box.
The Crew had 31 crosses last night, 19 more than Toronto. More important than quantity, however, is finally seeing players finishing the quality balls that are crossed in. I sat through two games last season when beautiful balls were played in, just to be frustratingly put wide.
Kamara (who rejoined the club in the fall) might be what the Crew needed, someone that players can consistently target.
Also, if Meram can keep getting his head on crosses, he might well become a fan favorite.
Crossing into the box isn’t always sexy, but goals are. A victory against one of the teams tipped to be best in the league might demonstrate that the Crew has finally found a connection with crossing.