Columbus Crew SC are familiar with winning games on long-range chips, but it was the New York Red Bulls who found a lofted winner to clinch their 2-1 victory over Columbus Saturday night.
The Red Bulls left a frigid MAPFRE Stadium victorious thanks to a historic floated effort from substitute Mike Grella, who netted a mere seconds after entering the match. The 67th-minute goal was the Red Bulls' 1000th as a club, making them the fifth MLS side after the LA Galaxy, D.C. United, FC Dallas and Columbus to hit that mark.
After a dominant display over Toronto FC in Week 2, Crew SC were frustrated and uncomfortable, while New York was ready to pounce on the Columbus mistakes to earn their second win in two weeks and stay unbeaten in 2015.
Despite the matchup of two of the more possession-oriented squads in the MLS, the first half largely amounted to counter-attack versus counter-attack.
New York worked hard to disrupt the methodical Crew SC offense, and succeeded in throwing the hosts off their game. The Red Bulls outpossessed Columbus in the first half, and kept the hosts' chances to a minimum, leaving Crew SC with only one shot on goal in the first 45 minutes.
But it wasn't all clean disruption from either team. Crew SC's Federico Higuain and New York's Damien Perrinelle picked up yellow cards for hard fouls on one another, and an altercation between Tony Tchani and Sacha Kljestan got things even more heated.
The break for halftime would do little to change the game's pace and sloppy nature, which came to a head in the 48th minute when Lloyd Sam broke free in the Columbus box before Emanuel Pogatetz took his legs out with a sliding tackle.
But 10 minutes later, Columbus found their equalizer. An Higuain free kick took a deflection and was allowed to bounce through the New York box, and former Red Bull Tchani was there to put it in.
Despite that solid play, it was another of the match's many mistakes that gave New York their ultimate advantage in the 67th minute. Columbus's usually sure-footed captain Michael Parkhurst tried to dribble around a pair of Red Bulls in defense, and the ball bounced off an opponent's leg and directly in front of Grella, who had just come into the match for New York.
Grella looked up and saw Clark off his line, and placed a perfectly weighted chip over the Columbus keeper's head for his first MLS goal.
In the match's best representation of Columbus's frustration, Higuain was sent off in the 84th minute for dissent. The Argentinian was called for a foul and disagreed with referee Sorin Stoica, choosing to argue rather than continue the game. Already on a caution, Higuain was promptly dismissed.
With the win, the Red Bulls improved to 2-0-1 on the season, while Columbus fell to 1-2-0. New York visit D.C. United next Saturday, while Crew SC have their second bye week in three weeks.