The Columbus Crew showed Sunday it is not just content with merely getting into the playoffs.
A day after earning a postseason berth, the Crew went into Red Bull Arena and defeated the New York Red Bulls, 3-1, to move up the Eastern Conference table.
Aaron Schoenfeld led the way for Columbus, bagging a brace with goals on each side of halftime.
Gregg Berhalter’s side moved to 13-10-10 on the year and leapfrogged the Red Bulls for fourth place in the East. New York, who are also assured of a place in the playoffs, fell to fifth place at 12-10-11.
Ethan Finlay scored the game’s winner in the 34th minute, exploiting the space between Armando and Roy Miller and latching onto a through ball from Tony Tchani before firing home to give Columbus a 2-0 lead.
Lloyd Sam trimmed the deficit in half in the 58th minute to give the Red Bulls a lift with a much-needed jolt of energy. Sam impressively dribbled through a pair of defenders on the right flank, and proceeded to slam a rocket past Columbus goalkeeper Steve Clark at the near post for his fourth goal of the season.
A minute later, Thierry Henry saw a glorious chance deflected wide. Henry, who could have been playing in his final regular-season game at Red Bull Arena, cut in from the left but his effort from 15 yards was just nicked wide for a corner.
While the Red Bulls looked better after the goal, the sharpness wasn’t there in the final third. That opened the door for Schoenfeld to score his second of the match in the 79th minute, smashing a hard shot into the back of the net from close range after a feed from Finlay.
Schoenfeld’s opener came in similar fashion, though it involved some luck as well.
Finlay hit a pass from the right side to the Crew forward in the 17th minute, and a bungled first touch from Schoenfeld actually ricocheted back to him and created distance from Jamison Olave for a simple finish.
Columbus now turns its focus on their regular-season finale at Crew Stadium vs. the Philadelphia Union next Sunday. New York will host the Montreal Impact in a CONCACAF Champions League match on Wednesday – the Red Bulls are already eliminated from contention in that tournament – before finishing their 2014 MLS campaign on the road at Sporting Kansas City on Sunday night.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Ethan Finlay||The Crew's hottest forward kept up his tear in this high-stakes setting, running the channels well and combining with Schoenfeld.|
|2||Aaron Schoenfeld||The big targetman showed the complete package today, working hard on and off the ball and finishing his chances.|
Most underrated GK in MLS? Made his team's victory look easier than it was with several clutch stops.