By Brad Friedman / ColumbusCrewSC.com
For the second time in five days Columbus defeated the Chicago Fire, and a trio of Crew SC attackers had a huge impact on the Black & Gold's 3-1 victory.
Federico Higuaín, Kei Kamara and Ethan Finlay each found the back of the net against a Chicago side that played a man down after Fire forward Jason Johnson saw his second yellow in the 50th minute.
You can catch the full recap of Sunday’s match here, but the box score tells a story too.
Finlay etched his named into the MLS record books by earning the earliest penalty kick in League history, just 13 seconds into the match. The midfielder went tumbling to the ground after Sean Johnson clipped his leg during a chip attempt. Higuain stepped up to the spot and drove home Crew SC’s first penalty kick of the season.
Higuaín’s penalty kick set off a frenzied start to the match. Just seven minutes after the opening goal, Chicago’s David Accam went top-shelf on a free kick after a fortuitous bounce off the Crew SC wall. Just eight minutes later Crew SC fired back. Waylon Francis maneuvered his way along the edge of the box and delivered a perfect chip for a soaring Kamara, who strongly finished his header towards the upper 90. For those keeping track, that's three goals in just 17 minutes.
Crew SC’s possession advantage helped the home side control the pace of the game. The Black & Gold showed patience, especially in the final third, making extra passes to open up better looks against the 10-man visitors. One example: In the 77th minute Kamara settled down a cross on the right side of the box and had space to shoot, but he instead worked back in the hopes of finding a better opportunity. A few passes later, Wil Trapp found even more space and fired off a shot from just outside the box which narrowly missed the post.
Crew SC took the reins and dictated play right from the onset off the Black & Gold's match in Bridgeview, Illinois.
Smart ball movement, creative attacking, and a bend-but-don’t-break defense led Columbus to its first road win of the season, defeating the Fire 1-0.
Crew SC experienced two substantial turnarounds this week: playing another road match just four days after taking on the Impact north of the border, and a turnaround in the box score. Here, we’ll take a closer look at those numbers to see how they affected the outcome.
First, a tip of our hat goes out to Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson. He made six saves, some of them exceptional, including his tip over the crossbar on Ethan Finlay's breakaway, and kept Chicago in the match until the final whistle. Johnson’s 6’3’’, 217-pound frame came in handy when he needed to lunge after Crew SC’s seven on-target attempts.
2 out of 8
Crew SC was able to limit Chicago’s opportunities throughout the night, especially during the first half. Only two of the Fire's eight shots made their way to Steve Clark, though Jason Johnson’s 81st-minute bender from outside of the box snaked its way through traffic and had a decent chance of finding the back of the net. Luckily for Crew SC, Clark was there when he needed to be, and the backline took care of the rest.
11 & 13
Kei Kamara and Ethan Finlay are one of the most dynamic duos in the MLS, so it’s only appropriate their respective stats be grouped together. When Finlay lobbed up a cross into the middle of the box from the right side during the 41st minute, Kamara charged in and struck a powerful header to give Crew SC the match’s only score. The goal was Kamara’s 13th of the season, and the assist was Finlay’s 11th. Both players lead the League in their respective categories.
D.C. United– 25 pts. | 1-0 loss at Portland Timbers FC, 2-1 win vs. Philadelphia Union, this week: vs. Chicago Fire, vs. Toronto FC
After a 1-0 loss to Portland on Wednesday, D.C. United bounced back strong and snapped a three-game winless streak in a come-from-behind victory against the Philadelphia Union. An early goal from the Union’s Sebastian Le Toux was matched by D.C.’s 85th minute penalty kick from Chris Rolfe. This sealed a United victory at RFK Stadium and extended its lead in the Eastern Conference to four points.
New England Revolution – 21 pts. | 2-2 draw vs. LA Galaxy, this week: at Portland Timbers FC
In a rematch of last season’s MLS Cup Final, the New England Revolution came out of a hard-fought match with two goals and one point as they tied the LA Galaxy 2-2 in a rain-soaked match at Gillette Stadium. An offensive first half left the match tied at two goals apiece at the half, only to stay that way when the final whistle blew. Despite holding on to the majority of the possession in the second half, New England couldn’t find the back of the net for a third time.
New York Red Bulls – 17 pts. | 2-1 loss at Seattle Sounders FC, this week: at Houston Dynamo
Heartbreak struck the New York Red Bulls this weekend after a stoppage-time goal from Seattle’s Chad Barrett that sealed the deal for a 2-1 Sounders' victory. The Red Bulls started off strong with a goal in the 36th minute, as a free kick deflection gave New York's Lloyd Sam an easy sitter to finish in front of the net. But Seattle stood defiant, scoring two goals in the final 22 minutes to steal the win and take over the top spot in the Western Conference.
Toronto FC – 16 pts. | 3-1 win vs. San Jose Earthquakes, this week: at D.C. United
Toronto FC leaps into a tie for fourth place in the East thanks to a team effort offensively. Though trailing San Jose in possession and passing statistics, Toronto connected well as a team with three goals scored by three different players. Toronto extended its home win streak to two games.
Columbus Crew SC – 16 pts. | 2-2 draw at Orlando City SC, this week: at Philadelphia Union, vs. Montreal Impact
Despite conceding a late-game goal, the Black & Gold can hold their heads high after their 2-2 draw at Orlando. Tony Tchani gave the visiting squad the early go-ahead goal thanks to a cross from Hector Jimenez. It gave Tchani the opportunity to capitalize on a header from eight yards out, and that he did. After a far-post penalty shot from Kaká, the Lions leveled the match at 1-1 and resumed to play up a man. Columbus, meanwhile, held well defensively and managed to retake the lead. A counterattacking cross from Waylon Francis found the head of Kei Kamara for his 10th goal of the season. In the end, Columbus fared well despite playing down a man. A powerful low-bearing strike from Pedro Ribeiro evened the match and sent Columbus home with a hard-earned road point.
Chicago Fire – 14 pts. | 3-0 win vs. Montreal Impact, this week: at D.C. United, vs. Orlando City SC
The Chicago Fire ended a four-match winless streak over a Montreal Impact squad that played with only 10 men for a majority of the match. With possession (64.8%), shots on target (11), and crossing opportunities (22) all favoring Chicago, it would have been disappointing for the hometown team not to have reached a winning result. Despite a rain-soaked pitch, the Fire’s high-paced offense remained intact. Goals from defender Jeff Larentowicz, midfielder Harrison Shipp and forward Kennedy Igboananike continues Chicago’s potent offensive play, having scored five goals in the club’s last two matches.
Orlando City SC – 14 pts. | 2-2 draw vs. Columbus Crew SC, this week: at Chicago Fire
An 89th minute goal from Orlando City’s Pedro Ribeiro salvaged a point for the home team. A successful penalty kick from Kaká, his fourth of the season, left the game at a 1-1 tie until Kei Kamara’s 61st minute header gave the visiting squad the lead. After struggling to conjure up any threatening offensive opportunities, Ribeiro-turned-savior provided the missing link, blasting a low driven ball past Crew SC goalkeeper Steve Clark for Orlando City’s game-tying goal.
Philadelphia Union – 12 pts. | 2-1 loss at D.C. United, this week: vs. Columbus Crew SC, vs. NYC FC
The Union witnessed their two-game win streak snapped at the hands of an 85th minute penalty kick, completing a come-from-behind victory for D.C. United. Philadelphia trailed significantly in possession (39.6%) and rarely were the first to fifty-fifty balls, trailing in duels won 41-53. But the road team held it together defensively in the final third until a mishandled cross in the Union’s own box resulted in a hand ball being called. A successful penalty kick from United’s Chris Rolfe translated to D.C.’s game-winning goal.
Montreal Impact – 8 pts. | 3-0 loss at Chicago Fire, this week: vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, at Columbus Crew SC
Though only having played eight regular season games this season, after a 3-0 loss to the Chicago Fire, Montreal sits in the bottom of the East. After a second yellow card was shown to midfielder Marco Donadel, Montreal became the fifth team to play down a man against the Chicago Fire this season. In the end, Chicago’s speed gave them the possession advantage (64.8%) and the hometown team outshot Montreal by a tally of 20-3, with zero shots on target for Montreal.
NYC FC – 8 pts. | 1-1 vs. Houston Dynamo, this week: at Philadelphia Union
After trading first-half goals, New York City FC and Houston Dynamo played to a 1-1 draw at Yankee Stadium. For New York it was a David Villa penalty kick in first half stoppage-time that kept the home team afloat. However, New York City remains winless in its last 11 games, sitting tied for last in the East with only eight points in 13 regular season games played.