On a night when the New York Red Bulls were missing their star Designated Player, the Columbus Crew saw their own will them to victory.
Federico Higuain enjoyed his latest impressive performance for the Crew on Saturday night, scoring a second-half brace to give Columbus an impressive 2-0 victory over a Red Bulls team missing injured forward Thierry Henry and suspended head coach Mike Petke at Crew Stadium. Higuain first converted a penalty kick in the 62nd minute before delicately chipping a shot over New York goalkeeper Luis Robles 14 minutes later.
The win over the Eastern Conference leaders was the Crew's first since a 1-0 triumph against the Portland Timbers on July 7 and gives them some hope as they try to climb back into the playoff picture. For New York, the loss snapped a four-game unbeaten run and could move them out of the top spot in the East depending upon how other games go on Saturday night.
The first half was largely devoid of chances, but Dominic Oduro was at the front and center of the few that were created. Oduro set up Bernardo Anor for an early shot that was sent wide, and also had a shot deflected by Roy Miller before Robles pounced on the ball in the 14th minute.
Robles also came up big on an opportunity nine minutes later. After Higuain whipped in a free kick from distance, Chad Marshall nicked it towards goal but Robles got down low to parry the shot away from danger.
The Crew continued to push in the second half and found the game's opener thanks to some fortuitous circumstances. Columbus earned a free kick in the 61st minute after Agustin Viana duped referee Allen Chapman into thinking he was fouled by Eric Alexander, and the ensuing set piece resulted in a penalty kick after Jamison Olave was controversially whistled for a shove in the 18-year box.
Higuain stepped up to take the spot kick and made no mistake, beating the stellar Robles with a shot down the middle.
The Red Bulls had an opportunity to find an equalizer, but Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson did well to deny a Fabian Espindola header following a cross from Brandon Barklage in the 74th minute.
That save opened the door for Higuain to punctuate his performance with a beautiful game-winner two minutes later. Wil Trapp hit Higuain with a through ball behind the defense, and the Argentine veteran lofted the ball over an onrushing Robles to secure the three points for Columbus.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Federico Higuain||Was dangerous with his set pieces, active throughout and ended up scoring both goals for the Crew. His chip was as classy a finish as they come.|
|2||Luis Robles||The veteran goalkeeper was undoubtedly the Red Bulls' best player. He kept them in the game with several key stops in the first half and there was little he could do on either of Higuain's goals.|
|3||Dominic Oduro||Did not make it onto the scoresheet but still gave Roy Miller and the rest of New York's defense fits with his speed and ability on the ball. Oduro was the most threatening attacker in the first half.|