ORLANDO, FLA. – It took a one-hour rain relay and nearly 90 minutes of action, but the Columbus Crew staved off the Philadelphia Union through an 87th-minute penalty kick from Designated Player Federico Higuain. The win is the Black & Gold's third consecutive preseason victory under Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter, and the second straight in Group A play in the 2014 Disney Pro Soccer Classic following Wednesday's triumph over Toronto FC.
The Crew win – coupled with tonight's Group A draw between Toronto and Orlando City – ensures that the Black & Gold will play in the tournament's championship match for the second consecutive year against the Group B victor.
Only days after flying across the globe to join his new teammates, recently acquired centerback Giancarlo Gonzales put in a solid first performance for Berhalter's side, helping the Crew to a clean sheet victory. Goalkeeper Steve Clark was called into action early and often, producing a series of stops to keep his side in the match, and Higuain provided the final offensive spark. The Argentine converted from the spot following an Amobi Okugo foul on Ryan Finley inside Philadelphia's area.
REACTION: Reflecting on Gonzalez's debut
The Crew closes out group play in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic on Wednesday, February 26 against Orlando City, followed by the title game on Saturday, March 1 before returning to Columbus. The club begins its 2014 regular-season campaign on Saturday, March 8 at D.C. United.
Columbus Crew 1 – Philadelphia Union 0
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Venue: ESPN World Wide of Sports Complex (Kissimmee, Florida)
Referee: Ted Unkle
Assistants: Kevin Klingel and Oscar
Fourth Official: Silvir Petreson
Weather: 70 degrees and rain
CLB – Federico Higuain (penalty) 87’
CLB – Bernardo Anor (caution) 32’
PHI – Amobi Okugo (caution) 87’
CLB – Ryan Finley (caution) 89’
Columbus Crew: Steve Clark; Chad Barson (Josh Williams 62’), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Tyson Wahl 61’), Michael Parkhurst ©, Waylon Francis; Wil Trapp, Tony Tchani; Hector Jimenez (Dominic Oduro 61’), Federico Higuaín, Bernardo Anor (Ethan Finlay 76’), Jairo Arrieta (Ryan Finley 61’)
Substitutes not used: Matt Lampson; Kevan George; Agustin Viana, Matt Walker
Philadelphia Union: Andre Blake (Brian Holt 69’); Fabinho (Raymond Gaddis 59’), Aaron Wheeler, Amobi Okugo, Sheanon Williams; Brian Carroll (Aodhan Quinn 79’), Maurice Edu (Sebastian LeToux 78’), Vincent Nogueira (Leo Fernandes 40’), Cristian Maidana (Keon Daniel 70’), Zach Pfeffer (Daniel Cruz 46’); Jack McInerney (Corben Bone 78’)
Substitutes not used: Zac MacMath; Conor Casey, Cristhian Hernandez, Antoine Hoppenot, Matt Kassel, Michael Lahoud, Jimmy McLaughlin, Vincent Nogueria, Carlos Valdés, Ethan White