COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Columbus Crew struck late again to keep their playoff hopes alive as Milovan Mirosevic scored in the 87th minute for a dramatic 3-2 victory over visiting Philadelphia, who rallied from a two-goal deficit on Saturday night.
Mirosevic’s fourth goal of the season came off a sliding pass from Josh Williams after the ball pinged around the Union penalty area. Replays showed Mirosevic to be in an offside position, but the goal stood and proved to be the fifth straight Crew game-winner scored in the 86th minute or later.
They wouldn’t have needed Mirosevic's heroics if not for a stirring comeback from the Union (8-15-6, 30 points), who were eliminated from playoff contention with the loss.
After Crew forward Jairo Arrieta put the home team up 2-0 with two late first-half goals, Philadelphia's Danny Cruz made it to 2-1 in the 65th minute with a penalty kick awarded after Columbus goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum took down substitute Antoine Hoppenot.
Then another Union substitute, Jack McInerney, got on the end of a pass from fellow second-half sub Roger Torres in the 86th minute to tie the score, sticking his foot out and pushing the ball past an on-rushing Gruenebaum.
That goal cancelled out Arrieta's star performance in the opening 45 minutes, when he took advantage of the misadventures of Union center back Amobi Okugo and his defensive mates to score in the 44th minute and then in the fifth minute of first-half stoppage time for a 2-0 Crew lead.
Just when the match was shaping up as a classic 0-0 stalemate, Arrieta got on the end of a drilled cross from right back Sebastián Miranda that sailed over Okugo's head. After chesting the ball to the ground, the Costa Rican forward was six yards left of goal and finished neatly for a 1-0 advantage.
The Crew would have been happy with taking the breakthrough goal into the locker room, but they added another thanks to a long goal kick by Gruenebaum, who earned his first career assist on Arrieta's second.
Once again, Okugo mistimed the ball and Arrieta was behind him to gather it between Philly defenders Carlos Valdés and Raymon Gaddis at the top of the penalty area. Arrieta dribbled to his left and unleashed another left-footed shot that went past Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
For the Costa Rican international, it was his third two-goal game in the past 13 and he has eight goals for the season in only 15 games. He also extended his point streak to four matches (three goals and two assists).
OPTA Chalkboard: Crew take care of business at home
The Union and MacMath were under siege from the onset and he and Arrieta twice collided in the box after the forward avoided offside traps.
Although Philadelphia was not credited with a shot on goal in the first half, they were dangerous on the counter and had two near misses. The Union made up for it in the second half with a stirring comeback spurred by their subs when the Crew seemed in cruise control at 2-0.
Columbus (14-11-6, 48 points) continue their push for the playoffs when they host Sporting Kansas City on Oct. 7, while Philadelphia play Wednesday, Oct. 3 at Chicago.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Jairo Arrieta||Arrieta has the mark of an expert striker: He's quiet until it counts. His two first-half goals were clinical finishes and take him to eight in just half a season.|
|2||Federico Higuaín||Although he doesn't figure on the score sheet, Higuain was on his game, singlehandedly creating several chances and putting on a show for the Crew faithful.|
|3||Danny O'Rourke||He brings a lot to the Crew midfield, battling all over the field and reducing the danger presented by his counterparts on the Union.|