CHESTER, Pa. – Down a man for the final 20 minutes of Wednesday’s Eastern Conference game at PPL Park, the Columbus Crew not only stopped the Philadelphia Union from scoring – they also got an improbable goal of their own.
With Philly pushing everyone forward to break a deadlock, the Crew’s Eddie Gaven netted the game-winner in stoppage time to stun the PPL Park crowd and send visiting Columbus to a dramatic 2-1 victory.
Crew goalie Matt Lampson earned an impressive victory in his first career MLS start, as Philly held a man-advantage after Crew defender Josh Williams was shown a red card in the 69th minute.
But the Union couldn’t break through Lampson – who was starting in place of the injured Andy Gruenebaum – and the Columbus defense.
The Union (7-13-4) are winless in their last five, while the Crew (11-8-6) are unbeaten in their last five.
Before being sent off, Williams scored his first career goal for Columbus, matching defensive counterpart Carlos Valdés, who scored earlier in the first half to put Philly ahead.
After Michael Farfan was taken down to draw a free kick from about 30 yards out, Valdés stepped up and hit a low shot that deflected off the wall and into the right corner of the net in the 29th minute.
It was the second goal of the season for Valdés, who is now tied for fourth on the club in that category. The all-star defender later came out with what appeared to be an injury in the 55th minute. Rookie Ray Gaddis replaced him in the lineup, with Sheanon Williams moving from right back to center back.
After Valdés’ goal, Columbus struck back in the 41st minute with a goal of their own from a defender, as Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath had no chance on a perfect header from Williams.
It was the first career MLS goal for Williams, who was the recipient of an equally perfect free kick from red-hot Crew forward Federico Higuain to open his account.
But like Valdés, Williams also exited the game early when he was shown a straight red card after getting into an off-the-ball scuffle with Union sub Antoine Hoppenot, who got a yellow.
Up a man, the Union had Columbus back on their heels. But Lampson came up big to save a shot from Gabriel Farfan in the 80th minute, before the threat was subdued when Philly was called offside.
The Union kept the pressure on but the Chad Marshall-led Crew defense limited the shots on target and almost got a goal on a counter from Higuain, before Gaven gave them the full three points.
For the second straight game, Freddy Adu did not start for the Union, only coming on for the final 13 minutes.
Both teams return to action on Saturday with the Union traveling north to New England to take on the Revolution and Columbus returning home to face Montreal.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Federico Higuain||The Crew midfielder remained red-hot with a pair of assists, leading the club despite being a man down for 20 minutes|
|2||Eddie Gaven||Despite a miss from point blank range, the Crew midfielder made the best of his chance in stoppage time.|
|3||Michael Farfan||One of the few bright spots for the Union, patrolling the midfield, creating a number of opportunities for teammates.|