All of a sudden, the Columbus Crew’s offensive potential seems to be coming into focus.
Newcomer Jairo Arrieta scored his first two goals in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Sporting Kansas City, just a day after the Crew announced the signing of Argentine forward Federico Higuaín as their long-sought Designated Player to bolster the offense.
Arrieta, the Costa Rican forward who made his MLS debut vs. Sporting in a 2-0 home loss on July 14 and had his first assist in the 1-0 victory against D.C. United a week later, provided the finishing touches on Saturday that have been missing all season.
“It’s very important for me personally to score the game-winner,” Arrieta told MLSsoccer.com by phone through a translator, “but more important than that is the team was able to band together and hold onto the result.”
He tied the match in the 17th minute after Kei Kamara opened the scoring in the eighth with a pinpoint pass from left back Josh Williams. Arrieta then took two touches and slotted the ball past Jimmy Nielsen.
“That gave a little bit of charge to the team to get to that second goal,” he said.
And that follow-up came just seven minutes later as Arrieta dispossessed Graham Zusi and fired brilliantly from 30 yards.
Then it was up to goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum. The standout goalkeeper had five saves and some luck along the way as Sporting dominated the second half.
He made a two-fisted save of a shot from Zusi in the 51st minute that was hit so hard the ball proceeded to hit the crossbar and rebound to Teal Bunbury, who had one of a half-dozen close-range misfires for SKC.
“It always helps to have Andy back there,” Williams said. “We have a safety net in G-Baum.”
HIGHLIGHTS: Sporting KC 1, Columbus 2