On the back of a gorgeous Erik Hurtado goal, the Vancouver Whitecaps won their second straight match Saturday, handing the Columbus Crew its third straight loss. The road win stretches Vancouver's unbeaten streak to four, while Columbus remains winless in their last seven MLS matches.
Striker Darren Mattocks was unavailable due to injury for head coach Carl Robinson and the Whitecaps, while Gregg Berhalter named the same starting 11 as he did in Week 1 for the Crew.
The opening minutes of the match were marred by errors from both teams. Columbus did not deal well with Vancouver's pressure on the ball and made several poor giveaways in their own half, while Vancouver frequently found themselves in front of goal only to squander the opportunity.
The Whitecaps could easily have been leading by two goals if Crew goalkeeper Steve Clarkhad not come up with more of his characteristically strong saves.
Columbus weathered the Vancouver storm, and settled into their usual possession play as the first half wore on. By the end of the half, the club reached 55 percent of possession, an emphasis in Berhalter's offense.
But Hurtado notched the opening goal of the match after the Crew had seemingly regained control of the game in the 37th minute, taking the wind out of the Columbus sails shortly before the half.
The Vancouver forward controlled a booming free kick from the opposite half of the field, turned left into space and unleashed a perfectly placed drive that left Clark with no chance of the save, marking Hurtado's first MLS goal.
The free kick that gave Hurtado his opportunity came from Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted, who notched a rare goalkeeper assist from long range. Ousted added a sprawling one-handed save on a Hector Jimenez shot in the 48th minute.
The Crew, playing their third match in seven days, seemed to suffer from heavy legs in the second half. With Vancouver content to slow the pace of the match and Columbus struggling to make their usual attacking runs, the game was much less free-flowing over the final 30 minutes, to the visitors' benefit.
Columbus made a trio of offensive substitutes in the second half, switching to a three-defender system at one point. But the Crew failed to find a goal for the third straight game, despite pumping crosses and passes into the Vancouver penalty box for the game's final ten minutes.
The Crew have now played 321 minutes without tallying a goal, and their last goal from the run of play came from Jimenez's late-game heroics against D.C. United on April 19.
Columbus fall to 3-4-3 on the season, dropping out of the top half of the Eastern Conference, while Vancouver improve to 4-2-4.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Matias Laba (VAN)||The Argentine was a midfield monster, keeping his countryman Federico Higuain in check and setting the tempo for the 'Caps.|
|2||Erik Hurtado (VAN)||Not bad for a young winger: Notched his first MLS strike with a Goal of the Week contender and put in the dirty work as a lone striker.|
|3||Steve Clark (CLB)||
Kept the Crew in contention with some strong saves on a night when too many of his teammates were well off their best.