Justin Meram did some of the heavy lifting in the attack, the defense held firm, and Columbus Crew SC defeated the San Jose Earthquakes, 2-0, on Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus.
It was a much-needed win -- their second in three matches -- and it came courtesy of a goal and assist from Meram. The veteran midfielder set up Ethan Finlay's first-half winner, and then put the game on ice with a late penalty kick.
The match may have resulted in three points for Columbus, but it also saw Crew SC midfielder Wil Trapp leave the match after just 13 minutes after a collision with Shaun Francis. The Quakes also lost two key players, as goalkeeper David Bingham and Victor Bernardez both subbed off with injuries.
With the win, Columbus improved to 5-9-11 but remain in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. San Jose, meanwhile, fall to 7-8-11 on the year while staying in seventh in the Western Conference.
- 32' – CLB – Ethan Finlay (Justin Meram, Nicolai Naess)
- 84' – CLB – Justin Meram (PK)
- Full Box Score
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- MERAM MAGIC: Meram looked on from the opening whistle, impressing with aggressive dribbling runs and nifty turns in tight spaces to keep possession. With regular string-puller Federico Higuain out, Meram had more freedom to roam. He attacked centrally at times, but then found himself out on the right when he whipped in the low cross that Finlay fired home. It gives head coach Gregg Berhalter something to chew on going forward.
- QUAKES IMPOTENT ATTACK: Credit has to go to Michael Parkhurst and the rest of Columbus' defense for the job they did on Saturday, but the Quakes also deserve blame for failing to do much with the ball. Chris Wondolowski was essentially nonexistent in this one, registering just one shot, and nobody around him stepped up to help create much of a threat in the final third.
- INJURIES PILE UP: Both sides took injury hits in this one. Crew SC lost Wil Trapp early in the game after he collided heads with Shaun Francis, and the Quakes then had to remove goalkeeper David Bingham just before halftime because of what looked to be a no-contact lower back injury. San Jose center back Victor Bernardez joined Bingham for an early shower around the hour mark, leaving the Western Conference club further battered and bruised. Those are all important players to two sides that cannot afford to slip up heading into the final stretch.