Crew SC: Berhalter's instructions on point for rookie Hansen against Portland
COLUMBUS -- Goals were abundant under the lights at MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday night.
Against the unbeaten Portland Timbers, midfielder Niko Hansen played the hero in his MLS debut after booting home the go-ahead goal in the 84th minute of Crew SC's 3-2 victory. First half goals by Crew SC's Justin Meram and Ola Kamara set the stage for Hansen's game-winning dramatics.
Crew SC responded to Portland's opening goal shortly thereafter, when Meram drove home an equalizer in the 11th minute off a scramble after a corner kick. It was Meram’s first goal of the 2017 campaign and the 25th of his MLS and Crew SC career.
It did not take the Black & Gold long to strike again, this time with Kamara chipping Portland goalkeeper Jake Gleeson's head in transition off a long assist from midfielder Federico Higuaín. It was Kamara’s fourth goal in his last five contests dating back to the 2016 season.
Both clubs recorded six shots on goal in the first half, but the Black & Gold controlled the ball with 63.5 percent possession.
The second half was hotly contested. The scoring subsided until Hansen’s tie-breaking goal off a rebound from Gleeson.
Crew SC finished with 16 shots, outshooting Portland by five. The Black & Gold also led the game in shots on-target with a 7-5 margin. They also maintained their advantage in the possession battle with 64.5 percent in the game and completed 572 passes compared to Portland’s 316.
Saturday was the second time these two teams have met since the 2015 MLS Cup Final during at MAPFRE Stadium — but the first meeting in Columbus since 2015.
Portland's Dairon Asprilla scored in the fourth minute, assisted by fellow midfielder Sebastián Blanco. The Timbers evened the score at two right before the half with forward Fanendo Adi scoring a goal in traffic during stoppage time. He was assisted off a cross by defender Alvas Powell.
Crew SC improved their record to 2-1-1 (7 pts.) and handed Portland (3-1-0, 9 pts.) their first loss of the 2017 MLS season.