When forward Justin Meram stepped onto the pitch in Colorado last weekend it marked a major milestone in his career, with him appearing in his 300th regular season match in Major League Soccer. To celebrate, let's take a look back at 10 of the top moments in his career, in chronological order.
2011 MLS Superdraft: After an accomplished career at Yavapai College and the University of Michigan, Meram decided to make the jump from the collegiate level to the pros as a highly sought-after prospect and enter the 2011 MLS Superdraft. It was not long until Meram heard his name as he was drafted in the first round, 15th overall to the Columbus Crew on January 14, 2011. Meram is the only Wolverine to be drafted in the first round and just one of three to be drafted in program history.
Professional Debut: Just a month after being drafted Meram made his professional debut for Columbus Crew as a second-half substitute in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals against Real Salt Lake on February 22, 2011. Meram would go on to appear in 17 more matches during his rookie season.
First MLS Goal: In his sophomore season in Columbus, Meram netted his first professional goal, coming in as a second-half substitute against FC Dallas, Meram made an immediate impact as just minutes later he fired a ball from about 30 yards out that was able to slip into the bottom-left corner for the equalizer.
Three Goals in Three Games: Meram’s first career goal was the first of three goals in three consecutive games. Meram netted goals in matches facing FC Dallas, San Jose Earthquakes, and Seattle Sounders FC during the month of May, aiding in the Crew’s six-match undefeated streak.
Fastest Goal in MLS Cup Playoff History: In the Eastern Conference finals of the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs, Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls were facing off to clinch a spot in the MLS Cup Final. Just two passes into the match Meram found himself with the ball inside the box, where he was able to hit the ball on the bounce past the goalkeeper into the back of the net just nine seconds into the match. The goal was the fastest in MLS Cup Playoff history, beating out the previous record by 17 seconds.
First International Goal: On September 3, 2015, Meram scored his first goal of international play with the Iraqi National Team. This goal came as a stoppage-time penalty that helped secure a 5-1 win over Chinese Taipei during 2018 World Cup Qualification. Meram is the first MLS player to be called up to the Iraqi National Team, he earned his first cap in 2014 and has been a staple in the Iraqi squad ever since, most recently playing for the international side on March 29, 2022.
Brace Against CF Montreal: During his stint with Atlanta United, Meram stepped up against CF Montreal on June 29, 2019 scoring two goals for the Georgia-based club. The first coming in the 35th minute, after making a cut to the inside past his defender Meram fired a shot from 30 yards out curling past the Montreal goalkeeper. The second came in the 83rd minute off a corner kick that bounced around in the box eventually falling to Meram on the near post, where he was able fire it past the Montreal defense to take the lead. Meram’s brace proved to be the difference maker, defeating CF Montreal 2-1.
Two Assists versus FC Dallas: In an important match against FC Dallas during the 2021 Season, the Claret-and-Cobalt were down 1-0 in the final 10 minutes of the match with the team’s playoff position still in flux. Meram led the RSL comeback with two assists on crosses to Damir Kreilach and Albert Rusnak in the 80th and 90th minutes securing a much needed three points on the road that eventually pushed the Club into the postseason.
The Damiracle: If it isn’t obvious by now, Justin Meram is no stranger to late-game heroics. On Decision Day of the 2021 season, the Claret-and-Cobalt were in dire need of three points to make the postseason while facing one of its biggest rivals on the road, Sporting Kansas City. The match was in the final minute of stoppage-time tied 0-0, and it looked as though RSL’s playoff hopes were over when defender Aaron Herrera made one last push with a cross into the box that bounced back to Everton Luiz. Luiz’s shot was blocked right into the path of Meram. Meram, in a last ditch effort to secure three points, attempted a bicycle kick that was volleyed home by Damir Kreilach, securing the 1-0 win and a ticket into the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs.
2021 Assist to Bobby Wood: Meram, just three weeks after the “Damiracle,” showed off his stoppage-time heroics again back in Kansas City. In the final moments of the 2021 MLS Western Conference Semifinals, Meram made a run from midfield down the left sideline making one last push before the match was set to move into extra time. Meram crossed the ball into Bobby Wood who was making a run into the near post. Wood was able to just barely stick his right foot out and direct the ball to the far post, past the Sporting KC goalkeeper, putting RSL up 2-1 and punching its ticket to the Western Conference Finals.