Crew SC hail team determination as Meram's hat trick land them road win

MONTREAL -- Justin Meram completed his first career MLS hat trick just in time to allow Columbus Crew SC to finish a busy week with a win rather than another blown lead.

Meram scored his third goal of the game in second-half stoppage time to lead Columbus to a 3-2 win against the Montreal Impact at Saputo Stadium on Saturday. 

He scored twice in the first half for his second two-goal game of the season, but Columbus conceded a pair of Montreal goals in the second half to give up a 2-0 lead. But Meram wouldn't let his side settle for a draw.

"They were putting numbers forward, they were kind of taking it to us at the end and the ball came out to me and it was just a last-minute sprint and I gave it everything I had," Meram said. "Niko Hansen made a great run to stay with me. I played him the ball, his awareness to play it back was quality, with the pace of the layoff able for me to hit a one-touch, and a great team goal."

On Wednesday, Meram said "we weren't killers" after the Crew gave up a 1-0 lead with 10 minutes remaining and lost 2-1 at Toronto after conceding a pair of late goals by Tosaint Ricketts.

Meram said Columbus was lethal enough early against the Impact that they were able to get a result by retaining their composure despite giving up a second-half lead for the second time in four days.

"I think we were killers in the first half and then I think the second half we kind of got a little complacent and we didn't spread them out with the ball like we do and then they punished us," Meram said. "On set pieces, they got a flick and a backdoor goal. But we stayed with it. Leadership in the back, Wil Trapp, captain, just kind of keeping everybody composed and keeping us focused to close out the game for a tie or a win."

The win was the second for Columbus in a stretch of three games in eight days that began with a 2-0 victory against New England at MAPFRE Stadium last Saturday, and Columbus' coach believed the results this week essentially evened out. 

"It's funny how soccer works," Gregg Berhalter said. "On Wednesday, we played really good, we dominate and we walk away with nothing; and today, I think we played good but it was the determination, especially in the second half. They were clearly the better team the second half but the determination of our guys, you know, the willingness to fight through pain, fight through tiredness, was evident. And in the end you come out with a win, so very happy."