BRADENTON - The Columbus Crew earned its second consecutive win to begin the 2013 preseason with a 2-1 victory against the Chicago Fire behind goals from Federico Higuaín and trialist Sercan Güvenisik.
The Fire nearly drew first blood in the sixth minute of play when Wells Thompson found space in the box to blast a right-footed shot on frame, but Crew netminder Matt Lampson made a diving save to deny the Chicago attacker's attempt. The Black & Gold went ahead in the 21st minute after midfielder Eddie Gaven collided with Fire goalkeeper Neal Kitson inside the area to draw a penalty kick. Higuaín, wearing the captian's armband, calmly converted the penalty in the bottom left corner of the goal past Kitson to give Columbus the lead.
In the second half, with entirely different lineups, Crew winger Ethan Finlay led a counterattack to find an open Sercan Gúvenisik in front of net. The Turkish trialist finished brilliantly past Chicago netminder James Belshaw to extend the Black & Gold's lead to 2-0 in the 61st minute.
With time winding down, the Fire earned one back as Yazid Atouba blasted a shot into the back of the net past Crew 'keeper Daniel Withrow to cut the lead in half in the 90th minute. The Black & Gold were able to withstand the Fire attack for the short remainder of the match to earn the victory.
The Crew will round out play in Bradenton on Friday against the New York Red Bulls at 11:00 a.m. ET at IMG Academy before returning to Columbus on Saturday.
CLB - Higuaín - 21' (PK)
CLB - Guvenesik (Finlay) - 61'
CHI - Atouba (unassisted) - 89'
CHI - Kitson (Caution) 20'
CHI - Thompson (Caution) 31'
CHI - Jumper (Caution) 61'
CHI - Gallagher (Caution) 73'
Columbus Crew (First Half): Matt Lampson; Josh Williams, Chad Marshall, Tyson Wahl, Agustín Viana; Eddie Gaven, Kevan George, Tony Tchani, Justin Meram; Federico Higuaín (C), Ryan Finley*
Columbus Crew (Second Half): Matt Lampson( Daniel Withrow**, 56); Chad Barson, Eric Gehrig, Drew Beckie**, Kyle Hyland*; Ethan Finlay, Wil Trapp, Konrad Warzycha*, Ben Speas, Sercan Guvenisik*; Blake Brettschneider*
*Trialist, **Draft pick
Chicago Fire (First Half): Neal Kitson*; Logan Pause (C), Steven Kinney, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares; Wells Thompson, Jeff Larentowicz, Joel Lindpere, Alex; Chris Rolfe, Sherjill MacDonald
Chicago Fire (Second Half): James Belshaw**; Rich Balchan*, Jalil Anibaba, Rauwshan McKenzie*, Hunter Jumper (Caleb Konstanski 68'); Yazid Atouba**, Daniel Paladini (C), Michael Videira, John Gallagher**; Colin Rolfe* (Eric Robertson* 71'), Dominic Oduro
*Trialist, **Draft Pick