Crew View: By the numbers
Columbus Crew SC is four games into the 2019 season. The team has amassed a 2-1-1 record, good for 7 points and a share of first place in the Eastern Conference, though DC United already has one game in hand. Those are arguably the most important numbers of the year so far, but here are some more to illuminate the Columbus campaign to date.
17,931: Attendance at the March 2 home opener, a marked improvement over last year's league-worst 12,447 average and the 11,098 who showed up for the 2018 home opener.
9,687: Attendance at the March 16 home game, an embarrassing figure that mobilized online trolls and put Crew fans on the defensive regarding the still-contentious subject of whether Columbus can thrive as an MLS market.
0:Career goals by defender Gaston Sauro before 2019 in 24 appearances dating back to 2015.
2:Goals scored by Sauro so far this year via a pair of towering headers off corner kicks.
2:Goals so far from striker Gyasi Zardes, who also tallied the game-winner in the United States men's national team's 1-0 win over Ecuador last week.
0:Goals from anyone else on the team — good for an average of one goal per game, which suggests new coach Caleb Porter's attempts to cultivate a high-powered offense are still a work in progress.
2:Assists so far by midfielder Pedro Santos, who may be finding his groove under Porter after two disappointing seasons under Gregg Berhalter.
1:Goals allowed in three starts by goalkeeper Zack Steffen, who departs for Manchester City in July on a $7.5 million transfer.
3: Goals allowed by goalkeeper Joe Bendik, Steffen's ostensible replacement, in one start at Philadelphia last week.
0:Wins by Philadelphia before the Crew came to town.
5: Key Crew players missing in the Philly match due to international call-ups, including four starters and one — midfielder Justin Meram — who may well work his way back into the starting lineup (so let's at least see what Bendik can do with a fully stocked lineup in front of him).
200: Career appearances for Columbus by Meram as of March 16, though notably the 200th was as a substitute after new acquisition Robinho replaced him in the starting lineup.
1:Goal scored by Meram for the Iraqi national team March 20 against Syria, his first international goal since 2017, which Porter is hoping will spark a return to form on the club side. (Meram also added an assist and won the Player of the Tournament award during the International Friendship Championship overseas in late March.)
0:Wins in three matches so far by defending champion Atlanta United, who'll face the Crew this Saturday at Mapfre Stadium.
7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 23
Mapfre Stadium, North Side