In an Eastern Conference clash between two playoff hopefuls looking on from the outside, Nealis stepped up late to keep his side firmly in the hunt for an Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoff spot. With the result, the Red Bulls moved above the playoff line as they extended their unbeaten run to eight games. In contrast, the result is a massive blow to Columbus' hopes of continuing into the postseason, leaving the reigning MLS Cup champions five points behind the Red Bulls in 11th place.
Nealis ripped home a shot from the center of the box after Patryk Klimala headed the ball his way. It was Nealis' second-ever goal for the club and his first since the 2019 season.
The Red Bulls opened up the scoring early, with Cristian Casseres Jr. finding the back of the net off a corner kick in the seventh minute. It was his second goal in as many games, with the Venezuelan international opening up the scoring inside the first 10 minutes in back-to-back games for his side.
The Crew clapped back quickly, finding an 18th-minute equalizer through forward Miguel Berry, who was starting in place of injured US international Gyasi Zardes. It was Berry's sixth goal of the 2021 campaign.
In the 50th minute, Wikelman Carmona was brought down in the box by Marlon Hairston. After a Video Review, the on-field call stood and RBNY were given a chance to go up early in the second half. Klimala approached the spot with a stutter-step run-up, but his shot went wide left – much to the relief of Eloy Room, who dove the other way.
Klimala redeemed himself late when his headed assist led to Nealis' game-winner after a bleak second half from both sides.
- THE BIG PICTURE: This was the Red Bulls' biggest result of the 2021 season – an important three road points with a late goal that moves them above the playoff line. For the reigning MLS Cup champions, it’s a bleak performance at home and they’re now hoping for a miracle to make the postseason.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Sean Nealis’ 87th-minute go-ahead goal. The Long Island native came up big in an important moment.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Sean Nealis. Leadership, drive, passion. You name it and he had it. A big goal and a big defensive presence helped his side above the playoff line.