With his third and fourth goals in two games, including another Goal of the Week-caliber strike, Federico Higuain and the Columbus Crew won consecutive games for the first time all season, as they defeated Toronto FC 2-0 Saturday.
The win earned the team its fifth Trillium Cup trophy in the contest's six-season history, and moved head coach Robert Warzycha into a tie for all-time Columbus wins with Tom Fitzgerald (1996-2001) at 70. Warzycha joined just 13 other MLS coaches, four active, to have reached the mark.
Higuain broke the game open in the 19th minute, giving the Crew a 1-0 lead after driving home a deflected shot by Bernardo Anor. Fullback Chad Barson found space on the wing, and put a cross directly on Anor's foot. The Venezuelan fired a shot into Toronto keeperJoe Bendik, and Higuain flew into the box to slot the rebound past the displaced goalkeeper.
His first goal seemed to energize Higuain, who spent the remainder of the match making plays all over the field. With the recently-altered Columbus formation giving him more ability to roam free without being out of position, Higuain was dangerous on his own and in creating opportunities for others.
The Argentinian added to his tally in the 67th, when he sized up Bendik, who was only steps off his line, and floated a perfectly-placed chip past the Toronto keeper to give the Crew a 2-0 lead that they would not relinquish. The strike was Higuain's ninth goal of the season, tied for Dominic Oduro for the team lead.
Anor, in his advanced midfield role, and wingers Justin Meram and Oduro were beneficiaries of Higuain's creativity, finding themselves in scoring areas more often than in recent memory, including multiple attempts on goal that were kept out from good goalkeeper play by Bendik.
Toronto winger Bobby Convey, who assisted both stoppage time goals in Toronto's comeback victory over Columbus on July 27, found little of the same success, as the Crew fullbacks seemed intent on shutting down service from the wings. Overall, Toronto's attack sputtered, as they only managed two shots on target all night, and rarely connected on final balls in the box. However, Bendik had a strong match despite allowing Higuain's goals, as he made five saves, and helped keep the visitors' hopes alive.
Newly-acquired forward Maximiliano Urruti made his MLS debut for Toronto, coming on for the final 25 minutes of the match, but he could not make an immediate impact in his first action with his new team.
The win brings the Crew to 29 points on the season, still good for just eighth place in the Eastern Conference, while Toronto remains at ninth place in the conference, nine points back of Columbus. Both teams are back in action next Saturday, as the Crew will face Real Salt Lake on the road, while TFC will play at RFK Stadium against D.C. United.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Federico Higuain||Is back in form when his team most needs it. The chip on the second goal could be even more impressive than last week's|
|2||Agustin Viana||Helped to lock down TFC on the flanks and was able to neutralize Convey and Osorio when they were on his side of the field|
|3||Joe Bendik||Withstood a stretch at the end of the first half where he made three key saves, keeping Toronto in the game|