NEW YORK – Second-half substitute Justin Meram scored the late winner for Columbus Crew SC in a 2-1 victory over New York City FC in front of 30,018 fans at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Meram, who replaced Cedrick Mabwati in the 57th minute, took a pass from Federico Higuain following a turnover in the NYCFC defensive third, and slotted a low shot that kissed the far post before rolling into the net in the 83rd minute. It was his fourth goal of the season.
The Crew (11-8-8, 41pts) raced in front on 10 minutes after Higuain’s seventh goal of the season. Midfielder Will Trapp played a corner toward the back post, where the Argentine shed NYCFC's Andrea Pirlo and bounced his header in from eight yards out.
Kei Kamara nearly doubled the Crew’s advantage two minutes later when he slipped behind the NYCFC defense and settled the ball in the box. But Kamara skied his attempt from 12 yards away.
The momentary equalizer for NYCFC (7-13-7, 28pts) came in the 29th minute on Andrew Jacobson’s first goal for the expansion club. Forward Patrick Mullins chested the ball to the midfielder and Jacobson took a quick touch before putting his low, swerving shot from distance in off the hand of goalkeeper Steve Clark.
NYCFC nearly took a lead into the break on a left-footed shot by David Villa that just missed the far post in the 41st minute and a bicycle-kick attempt in first-half stoppage time by Mix Diskerud that also went over.
With the score still stuck on 1-1, Yankee Stadium erupted in the 60th minute when Kwadwo Poku replaced Frank Lampard, who was making his second start for NYCFC.
But Poku wasn't able to leave an imprint on the match as Columbus came inches away from scoring the go-ahead goal in the 78th minute when Kamara latched onto a Higuain cross. But the forward hammered the crossbar with his header from eight yards out.
Four minutes later, NYCFC goalkeeper Josh Saunders did well to dive to stop a near-post attempt by Ethan Finlay.
But Saunders wasn’t able to get his hand on Meram’s shot as Columbus claimed all three points, keeping NYCFC below the playoff red line in the Eastern Conference.
Both teams will face FC Dallas next with Crew SC hosting them on Sept. 6 (7 pm ET, FOX Sports 1), while NYCFC heads to Frisco Sept. 12 (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).