There was a different kind of energy around Crew Stadium on Saturday night as the Black & Gold hosted the first-place New York Red Bulls.
In the first home match since acquiring the Crew on July 30, new club chairman Anthony Precourt got a showcase of what his investment is capable of as the Black & Gold took down the Red Bulls, 2-0, behind two goals from Argentine playmaker Federico Higuaín in front of 19,080 fans.
"What a night, an awesome 2-0 victory," Precourt said after the match. "We had a great crowd tonight, we loved seeing that. The energy in the stadium was fantastic. We've got to have that every time, the players responded."
Perhaps Precourt's presence in Columbus provided a much needed kick to a struggling Crew side.
"I think if you've got the new owner in the house, obviously in the back of your head, you try to impress him and try to do well," head coach Robert Warzycha admitted. "You try not to disappoint him. I'm sure that was a factor in winning the game tonight too."
Higuaín gave the Black & Gold the lead in the 62nd, converting from the penalty spot after a Red Bull foul in the box on a restart. Fourteen minutes later, Higuaín put a bow on it, chipping New York 'keeper Luis Robles from outside the box after receiving a perfectly weighted pass from Wil Trapp in central midfield.
The playmaker's deft finish left his coaches and teammates stunned.
"If you score goals like the second one, like Pipa [Higuaín] scored, that's why we come to the stadium," Warzycha said of the strike. "That's why we're coaching, that's why we're playing: because you're looking for goals like that.
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"He's a special player," he continued. "To be honest with you, right before he made that shot, I'm like, 'Oh don't do it,' and then I looked at the goalkeeper and he was a good seven, eight yards in front of the line. Then I'm like, 'If you're going to do it, do it right now.' But probably he had it in mind way before I looked at the goal."
The victory ended a three-match losing streak for the Crew. Columbus will look to carry the momentum into next week's Trillium Cup finale against Toronto FC.
"This is huge for us because the three losses in a row were a little tough," Trapp said. "To come home and play a complete game like we did, especially against a good team like New York, it was huge. We just have to build off of that."