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Crew SC: Eastern Conference semi's draws passionate crowd but far from sellout

They were racous and the crowd lifted their team Crew SC early in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals Tuesday en route to a 4-1 win. (WSYX/WTTE)

COLUMBUS -- They were racous and the crowd lifted their team Crew SC early in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals Tuesday en route to a 4-1 win.

That crazy crowd was announced as 14,416 though it certainly looked like a response from 16 to 17,000 in the house at Mapfre Stadium.

Forward Ola Kamara scored his 19th goal of 2017 across all competitions for Crew SC in tonight’s match against New York City FC. Kamara’s goal came in the sixth minute when he pounced on a rebounded shot and put it past goalkeeper Sean Johnson to give the Black & Gold an early 1-0 lead.

This was Kamara’s first Audi MLS Cup Playoffs goal since joining the Black & Gold ahead of the 2016 MLS regular season. In addition to the goal, Kamara also provided the assist on Justin Meram’s 69th-minute goal, as he played a through ball which Meram then blasted to make it 3-0 for Crew SC. In 2017, Kamara has made two appearances (all starts) in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, tallying one goal and one assist.

Midfielder Artur scored his first career goal for the Black & Gold in tonight’s match against New York City FC. Artur scored in the 58th minute when he received a pass from Federico Higuain inside the box, which he then sent to the back of the net. In addition to his goal, Artur played the full 90 minutes, registering 71 touches, attempting 49 passes with a success rate of 83.7%, and made seven tackles, the most out of any player on the field for either team.

Midfielder Justin Meram scored Crew SC’s third goal of the evening in tonight’s match against New York City FC. Meram received a through ball from Federico Higuain which he then blasted past Sean Johnson. This was Meram’s third all-time Audi MLS Cup Playoffs goal, as the midfielder previously scored a goal in the 2014 and 2015 editions of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. In addition to his goal, Meram also provided the assist on Harrison Afful’s goal, which Afful scored in the third minute of second half stoppage time. Meram played the entire 90 minutes and tied with Federico Higuain for most attempted shots for the Black & Gold on the night, with four.

Midfielder Federico Higuain registered his first two assists of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs as he provided the helper on Artur’s 58th-minute goal and a secondary assist on Justin Meram’s 69th-minute goal. The two assists in today’s match brought Higuain’s all-time Audi MLS Cup Playoffs helpers to four, as he previously registered two assists during the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs. In addition to providing the helper on Artur’s goal, Federico Higuain attempted 52 passes – the most out of any Crew SC player in tonight’s match – with a success rate of 88.2% and tied with Justin Meram for most attempted shots, with four, two of which were on target.

Defender Harrison Afful scored his first goal of 2017 in tonight’s match, as he scored Crew SC’s fourth goal in tonight’s 4-1 victory over New York City FC. Afful scored the goal in the third minute of second half stoppage, as he dribbled past four NYCFC players before putting away his chance. This was Afful’s first career Audi MLS Cup Playoffs career goal in six appearances (all starts). In addition to scoring the goal, Afful played the entire 90 minutes, creating one goal-scoring chance and making three tackles.

Tonight’s win against New York City FC brought Crew SC’s undefeated streak to 12 consecutive matches (8-0-4) across all competitions, dating back to a 3-1 regular-season win over the Chicago Fire at MAPFRE Stadium on August 12. Over that span, Crew SC has outscored its opponents 23-11, registering four shutouts.

Up next, with a 4-1 lead on aggregate, Crew SC travels to Yankee Stadium to take on New York City FC for the Second Leg of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals on Sunday, November (5:00 p.m. ET / ESPN, CD102.5 FM, La Mega 103.1 FM, English radio stream available on ColumbusCrewSC.com).

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