For the second time in as many games, Columbus Crew SC posted a 1-0 victory, this time over the Philadelphia Union. Sporting a three man back line, what has long been considered the “second choice” formation for the team, Crew SC dominated. Philadelphia only had three shots in the game and none were on target. The defensive combination of Jonathan Mensah, Alex Crognale, and Lalas Abubakar were so good, they didn’t even concede a foul. For comparison, the Union’s backline had seven fouls.
“To me, it was more about team defending than individuals,” Head Coach and Sporting Director Gregg Berhalter said, “we made it very difficult for them. They could keep the ball in one place, and it was the back. That made it difficult.”
Perhaps the best defender of the trio tonight was Abubakar. In just his second start, he already has two shutouts, and at one point in the game had more shots than the entire Union team. That particular stat finished close, with the Union edging Abubakar three to two.
“I’ve started gaining some confidence,” Abubakar said, “Every time I get an opportunity to step on the field I’m happy.”
He went on to describe the mentality of how he approaches the game, shrugging off that Columbus only scored one goal. The strike is currently credited to Justin Meram with an assist to Artur, but the pinball cross seemed to get deflected into the goal by Union defender Josh Yaro and could be changed to an own goal.
“Anytime I play, [a shutout] is what I aim for,” Abubakar said, “if they don’t score, we can’t lose.”
A unique schedule caused by the MLS break for the Gold Cup has Crew SC playing the Union again on Wednesday, this time in Philadelphia. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30.