Strong start, futile finish as Columbus Crew wilt against Chicago Fire

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Columbus Crew got the lead they wanted thanks to a Federico Higuaín penalty in the seventh minute on Saturday night, but the inability to add another over the next 83 minutes proved to be their downfall.

Chicago rallied for a goal by former Crew midfielder Dilly Duka in the 52nd minute and the winner by Mike Magee in the 54th to nab the 2-1 victory before a crowd of 19,624 at Crew Stadium, leaving the Crew to wonder exactly what went wrong.

"For some reason we took the foot off the pedal and [Chicago] came alive a little bit more," Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum said. "A second goal for us really makes it a different game. That's something we really need to learn from and step on their throat once we get that first goal. We should have had the energy to do that but we didn't."

READ: Duka, Magee spark Fire to second-half surge past Crew

Columbus started strong, with Jairo Arrieta returning from Costa Rican national team duty to combine with Higuaín and Dominic Oduro, whose steal from defender Austin Berry led to the subsequent foul in the penalty area by Johnson.

"For the first 25 minutes we were really good," Crew defender Tyson Wahl said. "We kind of dropped off after we scored and you can’t let that happen. I think at home we have to keep pushing and go for the second goal and I think it came down to a couple plays in the second half and we just weren’t good enough on those plays."


Higuaín was less impressed by the opening 45 minutes but thought the Crew was dominant after halftime, despite the outcome.

"The second half there was only one team on the field but paradoxically we weren't able to win," he said through a team translator. "They made the two goals and that was the game." 

Added Gruenebaum: "Defensively, there's little things we didn’t get done. There's a couple of moments, for whatever reason, we lost focus.”

Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.