COLUMBUS, Ohio – Dominic Oduro scored a goal and assisted on the game-winner by Matias Sanchez as the Crew completed a tiring and trying week with an inspired 2-0 win over Eastern Conference leaders Montreal Impact on Saturday before a season-high crowd of 18,320 at Crew Stadium.
Sanchez scored in the 6th minute on a deflected shot from outside the box and Oduro capitalized on a turnover in the 22nd minute as the Crew (5-5-5, 20 points) ended a three-match winless streak. It was the first time in 30 matches that the Crew beat a team above them in the standings.
Despite the loss, which ended a three-game winning streak, Montreal (8-3-2, 26 points) remains a point ahead of the idle New York Red Bulls.
Columbus got the early break they needed thanks to the first MLS goal by Argentine central midfielder Sanchez, the first tally from the run of play by someone other than Oduro since March 23. After a foul on Oduro near the arc, the referee allowed the advantage as the ball popped out to Sanchez, who fired a low strike which deflected off Montreal defender Jeb Brovsky and into the back of the net.
The Crew made it 2-0 in the 22nd, but not before goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum made a kick save on a 17-yard blast by Impact forward Andrew Wenger to preserve the lead two minutes earlier.
Oduro, who scored against the Impact in the 1-1 tie at Montreal on April 14, stole the ball from Montreal midfielder Collen Warner 40 yards from goal and raced in on goal before slotting the ball past an onrushing goalkeeper Troy Perkins for his team-best 7th goal.
Montreal made three offensive subs in the second half but created few chances on goal. The attacking highlights came in the form of a wayward Wenger curler in the 45th minute from close range and a 70th minute Felipe shot that rolled across the goalmouth.
The Impact, who had not played since June 1, were hoping to take advantage of a physically and mentally tired Crew, who played for the sixth time in 21 days. That stretch featured two Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches, including Thursday's fixture in Chicago which was postponed by a day due to severe weather.
If there were positive signs for the Crew going into the match, it's that centerbacks Josh Williams and Chad Marshall returned from injuries, while midfielder Bernardo Anor made his first league start since suffering a torn ACL 11 months ago.
Meanwhile, the Impact were without centerback Alessandro Nesta and coach Marco Schallibaum because of one-game suspensions. Assistant coach Mauro Biello coached the team, as he did when Schallibum was suspended for the home match vs. the Crew in April.
The Impact next host Houston on Wednesday, while Columbus get a break until Chicago visits on June 22.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Matias Sanchez||The young Argentine had struggled to make an impact in past matches, but Saturday was different. The early goal set the tone for a dynamic performance.|
|2||Dominic Oduro||A one-man wrecking crew up top for Columbus. The Ghanaian gets a goal and assist, but will the manager shift him back to winger for the next match?|
|3||Federico Higuain||During the Crew's first-half blitz, Higuain was feeling it. He was a handful for the Impact to handle and his elusiveness made him tougher to mark.|